After nearly four years of negotiations between attorneys representing the town of Tisbury and Ernest Boch Jr. about the so-called Boch Park, no progress has been made, Tisbury selectman Tristan R. Israel announced last week.
Mr. Israel said at last Tuesday’s meeting of the board that the town is closing the door on the saga surrounding the waterfront land and building near the Five Corners intersection that have been vacant for most of the last two decades.
“We all hope that something good will happen with that property,” Mr. Israel said. The town is no longer willing to spend the time and resources on snail’s pace negotiations with Mr. Boch’s lawyer, he added.
Soon after Mr. Boch’s father, Ernest Boch, bought the property in 1987, he announced plans to turn it into a pay parking lot. The controversy began in 1993 when the Tisbury planning board denied the elder Mr. Boch’s application for a special permit to operate a valet parking lot. Appeals went in and out of courts for the next several years until the town landed a definitive victory, banning the valet parking lot in 2000.
Following the death of Ernie Boch Sr. in 2003, the town renewed discussions of the property with his son. The majority of communication took place between attorneys. The selectmen’s discussions on the matter were confined to closed-door sessions, the minutes of which have not been released.
According to Mr. Israel, one proposed plan involved the town renting the property from Mr. Boch and then subleasing the Entwhistle building to a local nonprofit — preferably one that was marine-related. The town could then use the rest of the property for outdoor activities and parking, Mr. Israel said. But with the slow rate of responses from Mr. Boch’s lawyer, a deal was never put together, he said.
In other board business last week, Tisbury selectmen voted to contribute $2,500 toward an Islandwide waste study to determine the best economic and environmental way of handling the Island’s trash. The study is expected to point toward a regional plan as the most efficient means of handling waste, and will draw opinions on facility needs and best practices.
In 1993, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs withdrew from the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District because they found they could manage their own trash more cheaply. A committee is currently working toward getting the two towns back in the district.
Oak Bluffs also approved contributing $2,500 toward the study, which is projected to cost $10,000. The regional refuse district will fund the remaining $5,000 if the board votes in favor of the study at its meeting on Sept. 20. The study would be performed by Environmental Partners Group, which also performed an Islandwide waste study in 1989.
“Don [Hatch, regional refuse district manager] sees that as a major step toward the possibility of doing something together,” public works director Fred LaPiana told Tisbury selectmen last week. “Both from an economic stand point and an environmental stand point, I think we’re at a point where we have to do something,” he added.
Mr. LaPiana said he supports a regional venture and noted that the study would also look into composting — which the Island does not presently accommodate — and the potential of generating energy from the gasses released by composting.
“The problems we face in the future are pretty significant,” Mr. LaPiana said. “We’re going to have to do something to address those volumes.”
Board chairman Thomas W. Pachico said he would not support contributing any additional funds to the regional refuse district as long as Tisbury is not a member. Mr. Israel noted that the district is being run differently now than it was when Tisbury withdrew in 1993.
Mr. LaPiana then raised another matter — how best to use the limited number of work hours offered by county engineer Stephen Berlucchi, whose services are shared among all the towns. Each town receives a certain number of engineering hours at a rate lower than a private engineer would charge. The hours were free up until last year.
Mr. LaPiana suggested that the town devote Mr. Berlucchi’s 150 hours to devising a case to present in Boston to requalify some of Tisbury’s roads to make them eligible for federal money.
“There are doors that are opening, but we have to be consistent and make a case to gain the $150,000 and $400,000 projects that are out there,” Mr. LaPiana said. “We’re trying to get them to realize Martha’s Vineyard is a different place. Franklin street may not compare to a highway, but it is an important thoroughfare on the Island,” he added.
Currently, Tisbury gets about $435,000 in federal money annually for roads, Mr. LaPiana said.
The board questioned whether Mr. Berlucchi’s services would be needed elsewhere in town, and Mr. Israel wondered whether such an undertaking could be pursued regionally under the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. But in the end, the board approved dedicating Mr. Berlucchi to that task for the rest of the year.
In other business, selectmen discussed what to set as the new parking fines for the purpose of discussion at next week’s public hearing on Sept. 18. Mr. Israel suggested replacing the $10 and $15 tickets with $20 and $25 ones. Mr. Pachico said he preferred setting the tickets at $50 to attract people to the hearing. Selectman Denys Wortman said he worried that such a high fine would deter people from coming to downtown.