Tisbury’s select board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Feb. 16, to appoint aquaculturist Greg Martino to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for a one-year term.
Martino was selected over a slate of four other contenders, three of whom were present at the meeting for the decision. The select board previously suspended the MVC appointment process, and temporarily installed town administrator Jay Grande on the MVC following lament from the initial two candidates for the post, David Ferraguzi and Elaine Miller, that more young people weren’t coming forth to be considered.
Select board member Roy Cutrer described Martino, librarian Ruth Koninsberg, insurance professional Issac Macy, planning board member Miller, and former elected member of the MVC Ferraguzi as “five really good candidates.”
The board made its decision after posing questions to the candidates, notably about affordable housing and wastewater.
Ahead of announcing his choice, select board chair Jeff Kristal emphasized that there are other town opportunities available to the candidates, including contributing to the town’s master plan.
Kristal showed particular enthusiasm toward Macy, who told the board he’d previously been involved in the liquor business, and had seen Cape Cod suffer from poor restraints on development. “Issac is extremely impressive, and boy, do I have plans for Issac,” Kristal said.
Kristal said Martino has a long list of qualifications for the MVC appointment, including support of smart growth, his work in aquaculture, and “a lot of water knowledge.” Kristal said from what he saw, he believed Martino was a “a fighter” but also a strong communicator.
Overall, Kristal said, he felt the other candidates needed more experience before ascending to the MVC.
Ahead of the appointment, Kristal also opined on the challenges the MVC faces, and expressed support of the regional planning body despite criticism that’s been leveled at it. “The commission right now is struggling to preserve the past, keeping an eye to the larger picture in the community, specifically Tisbury,” Kristal said. “I think they’re doing a fine job of it. I’m not one that agrees with the calls to dismantle the commission or have Tisbury pull out of the commission at all. But I also think they’re fighting calls against overreach, which I think we’ve all heard about over the last year or two. The checklist, et cetera, et cetera.”
Select board member Larry Gomez expressed distaste in having to pick any individual out of a group. “It’s never one of my favorite things to select one person out of three or four or five applicants,” Gomez said. “It’s really hard to do that.” Gomez echoed Kristal in noting there are other roles to fill in town, and said he hopes the other applicants will seek them out.
“I think he would be a great addition,” Cutrer said of Martino.
Cutrer also appeared enthusiastic about possibilities for Macy. “I want to talk to Issac,” he said. “We need people to run for seats right now. Please check with the clerk. Find out what positions were available. I’m sure there are positions that are running unopposed. Please take a look and put your name in. Pull papers and run for a position.”
Kristal told Macy to “call any three of us,” to see if they could offer suggestions for him. “One thing that Tristan always used to tell people is the finance committee is an excellent place to start,” Kristal said.
Kristal told Koninsberg her role as a research librarian at the Vineyard Haven library put her in a position to be well-informed about the goings-on in town. “And with Ruth, I don’t think you can get any better experience than being at the library, to be honest with you, dealing with everybody that’s coming in there and hearing all the stuff that goes on there,” Kristal said. “So I think what Roy is saying is we encourage you as well.”
Kroninsberg told the board she saw an imbalance in the way the candidates were evaluated. “With all due respect, though, I was the only candidate who actively mentioned which committees on the commission I was interested in,” Kroninsberg said. “I was the only candidate who actually mentioned having the town of Tisbury’s interest in mind — unprompted.”
Kroninsberg also said she thought Martino was given softball questions based on comments and answers she gave the board.
Kristal didn’t give Kroninsberg any more of a reply than, “Thank you.” However, Cutrer apologized for posing some questions to other candidates and not to her. “I would just like to say I asked everyone the affordable housing question except for you, and I apologize for that … I thought about it afterward,” he said.
Given the number of commitments he already has from being a firefighter to running an audiovisual company to farming oysters, Martino told the board he had seriously mulled over the idea of seeking the appointment. However, his final analysis was that he could make the time and wanted to serve.
Miller told the board she saw value in the creation of a website that might facilitate greater municipal involvement in younger people.
Town meeting on hold
Grande reported that several town items that require approval of the state legislature haven’t made much headway on Beacon Hill. Permission to hold the annual town meeting outside the geographic boundary of the town topped the list. Tisbury has reserved April 30 at the Performing Arts Center in Oak Bluffs for town meeting. This was done with the knowledge the town’s traditional town meeting venue, the Tisbury School, may be under heavy renovation in the spring per a $55 million addition and rebuild project.
Despite the desire for an April 30 meeting in Oak Bluffs, April 12 in Tisbury remains on the books for the annual town meeting, town clerk Hilary Conklin told The Times Thursday morning. “We all agree it’s too cold to be held in a tent in April,” Conklin said. She suspects if the permission for Oak Bluffs falls through, the town will hold the meeting under tents in June. However, she stressed, that’s not her call to make.
Conklin said the holdup appears to be the end of meeting latitude municipalities got earlier in the pandemic. She said basically most towns don’t have a situation like the Tisbury School project presents, as their meeting venues were problematic only because of pandemic restrictions and safety measures.
Grande told the board Wednesday the state Senate held a hearing on Tisbury’s special legislation, and he is now awaiting “a favorable report from the committee” so Tisbury’s bill “can move into first, second, and third readings and get engrossed.”
More progress was made on the request to serve liquor in Tisbury without a food accompaniment, Grande said. “As of Jan. 26, 2022, the Senate has ordered a third reading.” The bill already went through its readings and was engrossed at the House, he added.
In other business, Grande told the board Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) roadwork on Beach Road may end sooner than was previously expected.
“They’re going to continue to work through the winter, doing utility work and whatever can be done, weather permitting, and they’ve made progress,” Grande said. “They’re going to continue, obviously, that work into the spring, then begin on the other side of Beach Road in terms of sidewalks and other work. Then I anticipate in the fall they’re going to wrap up the project. Fall of 2022, I believe this is almost a year ahead of schedule in terms of its completion date. And that is because we’ve worked closely with them on the construction work, and I think the project now is on a good pace for completion [by] fall 2022, which I’m sure you’re pleased with.”
According to a MassDOT spokesperson, the roadwork will wrap up by the end of 2022, but some work items may carry over into 2023.