The West Tisbury select board unanimously approved awarding Island Housing Trust (IHT), who were the only bidders for the affordable housing project, the 401 State Road bid.
“The affordable housing committee had a few concerns about the design, but the bid itself is acceptable,” West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand said. “The design submitted will be a work in progress between IHT and their associated folks and the affordable housing committee and the neighbors.”
Rand said despite the design concerns, the committee recommended the board award IHT the bid.
When asked by The Times, Rand did not have details about what design concerns the committee had. IHT CEO Philippe Jordi said there were questions regarding the number and size of the apartments alongside their composition, some also wondering whether this was the best option for the property. What was presented to the committee was “just a preliminary design,” Jordi said. He said IHT will go through an extensive design process that will involve input and perspectives from the committee and the public, as with past projects such as Scott’s Grove in Tisbury. “We look forward to a successful outcome,” Jordi told The Times.
The property was set aside for affordable housing during the 2021 annual town meeting with a two-thirds majority vote, after some debate. A possible use for the property and its available vicinity West Tisbury resident Jefrey Dubard presented to the Up-Island School Committee in May was affordable housing for West Tisbury School staff.
In other business, the board unanimously approved plumbing inspector Ron Ferreira’s request for reimbursements to inspectors for some town inspections. According to Rand, this is related to an increase in inspection fees from $65 to $70 that took effect on July 1. The initial request was made in December, and needed details ironed out. Some inspections were paid for before the new cost was implemented, but were not acted on until after July 1, so these permit applicants paid the old rates. Rand said the reimbursement should not cost more than $1,500, although a reserve fund transfer may be needed if the budget does not take this amount into account.
The board unanimously approved changing the name of the Howes House feasibility study committee to the Howes House building committee, although the membership will not change. Board member Skipper Manter, who is also the chair of this committee, said they have concluded their work on the feasibility study. Now the committee will work with ACG, the Howes House owner’s project manager, to find an architect. Susan Silk, who serves on the committee’s survey subcommittee, brought up input she received from a friend that “a broader, more accurate role for Howes House as a community center” will be necessary to meet the “intergenerational needs of the Up-Island residents and visitors.”
“Before the pandemic, the building was often used by the M.V. Dems, the League of Women Voters, mahjong players, bridge players, lots of people who wanted to exercise, the lunch program,” Silk said. “There’s no need for the entire building to be seen as a facility for seniors.”
The board agreed that while this conversation will be beneficial, proper notice would be appropriate to allow more people to participate. The board decided to table the conversation until another meeting.
The board developed a consensus to send a letter to the state supporting the Field View Lane Road Association’s request for road apron improvements.
The board unanimously rescinded a vote made on July 27 that granted special municipal employee status, which the State Ethics Commission defines as designated to unpaid positions, part-time positions, or positions not paid for more than 800 working hours, to Bruce Stone, Kathy Logue, Maria McFarland, Janice Haynes, Erik Lowe, Russell Hartenstine, and Jesse Oliver. According to Rand, this action had to be taken because the incorrect process was taken during the July 27 vote. The board unanimously reinstated special municipal employee status to the listed individuals through another set of state laws.
The board unanimously approved the Trustees of Reservations’ event permit request for a board of directors dinner on Sept. 22 at Long Point Wildlife Refuge, from 6 to 10 pm.