Tisbury approves waterworks housing

Further utility pole work is coming on Beach Road.

Town administrator Jay Grande recommended workforce housing at the old waterworks office building. -Rich Saltzberg

Tisbury’s select board voted 2-0 on Wednesday, July 13, to approve a housing amendment to its agreement with W.T. Rich, construction manager at risk for the Tisbury School renovation and addition project. The deal would allow W.T. Rich employees to lodge at the old waterworks office building near the Tashmoo Spring. 

“It has been vacant for a considerable amount of time,” town administrator Jay Grande told the board. Grande said there are other places on the Island where workforce housing solutions have occurred using government real estate. 

“I don’t know what the future holds, but at this time the construction team wants to house six people there,” Grande said. “There’s a list of items they would have to do to the house in order to bring it up to code … I don’t know what the value of that work is.’

Grande said he hasn’t begun discussion on payments.

“I see this as a temporary arrangement,” Grande said. “Nothing is precedent-setting, in terms that the select board, following this experience, may decide you want to go back and use it for other purposes …” Grande said he supports the concept.

KP Law attorney David Doneski, who serves as Tisbury town counsel, reiterated that a number of improvements would be required for the property to be inhabited. “Those would all be undertaken by W.T. Rich,” Doneski said. “We would do this in the form of an amendment to the construction manager agreement between the town and W.T. Rich. They would undertake the improvements, which I think would take a matter of weeks, as I understand it. And then, for record purposes really, have a nominal monthly payment to the town.”

Doneski added W.T. Rich would be expected to adhere to typical landlord-tenant rules like maintaining insurance, keeping the premises clean, and refraining from illegal activity. 

Doneski said the building could hold up to six people, but it was “fairly unlikely” there would be six people there at any one time.

Lorraine Wells, a member of the Tashmoo Spring Building management committee, expressed her support for the idea so long as the occupation is temporary 

In other business, the board, in its capacity as road commissioners, voted 2-0 to approve nighttime utility work on Beach Road. 

Grande said Comcast desired to do work on July 20 and 21 from 10 pm to 6 am. “There’s no jackhammering or trenching,” Grande said. The work will be aerial. 

Grande noted Eversource had completed major parts of its Beach Road project work, but still there are vestigial, half-sawn utility poles. These hold Comcast and Verizon wires. Grande said Verizon and Comcast still need to relocate their wires to new utility poles where Eversource has already hung its electrical lines. Once this is done, the half-poles can be removed. Citing intense demand for utility crews, Grande said, “I would not want to miss this opportunity to get this work done.”

Select board member John Cahill asked if there would be Comcast service interruptions. 

“I do not know the answer to that, John; they did not bring that up,” Grande said. 

Grande went on to say Comcast would have to notify property owners of a service disruption.

Cahill also asked if there would be added equipment or wires. 

Grande said he would ask if changes or modifications have been made to the Beach Road project plans. 

Cahill reiterated his concern about service disruptions. “We have business along that route, that’s all I’m concerned about,” he said. 

On the recommendation of Police Chief Chris Habekost, the board voted 2-0 to appoint Cory Medeiros as a full-time patrol officer. 

Chair Larry Gomez was absent from the meeting. 


  1. More positive news on the affordable housing front. And done without the creation of a housing bureaucracy administering a new tax on Vineyard homeowners.

    • The Tisbury bureaucracy will be administering the new “affordable” housing.
      Tax dollars will be used to make the building suitable for human habitation.
      It may well get a pass on some building code and occupancy permit requirements.

  2. The approval for housing up to 6 construction company employees at the the pristine Tashmoo Springs building office is preposterous.The area is one of the few places in our town that is a unique and rare natural setting with public access. We all have learned the hard way that a temporary arrangement often becomes permanent in a another way. This property ,with its fresh and saltwater contiguity is precious and to let some multi million dollar corporate entity house its employees there with their vehicles, intrusive social life and impact on the beautiful tranquility this area gives us is a travesty. They can afford a hotel !!

    • And despoil one of nicest spots on the Island.
      How many big pickup trucks?
      How is the paving?
      Last time I was there there wasn’t any.

  3. Mr. Zoll is correct, will the public still have access to the picnic tables which we use on a weekly basis? With all the hurdles that are in place for Tisbury tax payers to rent the Water Works for events why the heck does a multimillion-dollar company get one of the most unique properties locate in Tisbury and residents are spurned by multiple layers of bonding, affidavits and swearing a blood oath to use not live in the same facility. I want more information from you two king makers.

  4. Hello, Mr Zoll
    I dont think we are talking about the same building… this is the building located up on the hill overlooking the Tashmoo Spring Building (TBS). The TBS and adjacent grounds will not be impacted by this remo/rental… You are correct this is an amazing spot (gem).
    This was a great opportunity for the town, we get a building repaired without raising taxes, not to mention the future use of a newly renovated building on this island is endless .

  5. Beware of those offering gifts.
    Having the W T Rich Co. doing the work is a nice idea. As with any construction or renovations on MV will there be a signed contract? Will there be a cost analysis? What will the materials be? Will the materials be just off the shelf from a big box store or will they be long lasting quality? Will they guarantee workmanship for a year or two. Who will be responsible when the Tisbury School has been completed and the workers are gone? These are just a few things not pointed out in the article. Will there be any relief to the town, money wise for them not having to rent a year round rental or pay for the workers transportation etc.
    Yes its nice that WTR is offering to do the renovations yet as a taxpayer of VH I would like to know more specifics before they sign on the dotted line.

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