Bylaw violations pause Howes House talks

Howes House renovation talks are on hold. —MV Times

Discussions on Howes House renovations will be halted until a conundrum surrounding the Up-Island Council on Aging membership is settled. 

Two West Tisbury representatives of the Up-Island Council on Aging, Nancy Cabot and Skipper Manter, who also chairs the West Tisbury Select Board, were found to be in violation of a bylaw stating members can serve only two consecutive terms. This forced a reconfiguration of the council’s makeup. 

The issue also forced a holding pattern on the ongoing discussions surrounding renovations to Howes House, which houses the Up-Island Council on Aging, until the matter was resolved. 

These bylaw violations have been discussed during previous West Tisbury Select Board meetings.

According to West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand, the other up-Island towns’ Council on Aging members are not in violation of this bylaw. Aquinnah has only two members on the council, and the possibility of having one of the town’s select board members fill in will be discussed during a meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Chilmark would also consider having one of its select board members step in as a councilor if one of its Council on Aging members stepped down. 

The West Tisbury Select Board considered their options during a Wednesday, Sept. 13, meeting. “Our plan would be to appoint one of us as interim member, and solicit candidates for the open seat,” West Tisbury Select Board member Cynthia Mitchell said. 

The West Tisbury officials decided to rescind the appointments of the violating members after hearing more information from the other up-Island towns. The vote to rescind will take place during the Wednesday, Sept. 20, meeting.

West Tisbury Select Board member Jessica Miller suggested Mitchell fill in on the council, but Rand said some time should be given to advertise the positions. 

Mitchell said she would be willing to be on the council.

Meanwhile, West Tisbury Fire Chief Gregory Pachico expressed he was comfortable with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation’s tree-cutting plan in Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, after consulting with state staff. West Tisbury officials had initially questioned the state’s plan to cut and leave the infested trees because of concerns over the possibility of increased fire risk, leading them to wait for word from the fire chief.