Editors, Vineyard Gazette

On May 15, 2021 the citizens of Oak Bluffs gave the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association $315,000 to help fix the roof on the Tabernacle. A mere 422 days later, MVCMA sued Oak Bluffs, and they‘re asking the court, if they win, to have Oak Bluffs pay their attorney fees.

This means citizens are effectively paying the MVCMA to sue us, win or lose; the $315,000 can be used to pay attorney fees if they lose the suit. If MVCMA wins, Oak Bluffs will have to pay both attorneys’ fees. When MVCMA asked Oak Bluffs to give them $315,000, they had more than $5 million in cash in their accounts .

So why are they suing the planning board? It must be something major, right? Well, no. The planning board approved their project but had the audacity to require MVCMA to fulfill two conditions.

First, the planning board required “a letter of intent from the wastewater department with forecasted flow” — the project includes an addition to the Tabernacle that has 10 toilets in it. Shouldn’t our wastewater department know something about the amount of waste that will flow from those toilets?

The second condition addresses storm water management. MVCMA must hire a third party “to look at other environmental techniques beyond bioretention” (aka rain gardens) “including the possibility of reducing the amount of impermeable surfaces and storm water management.” The new building sits on the flood plain overlay district and bioretention isn’t recommended for storm water management in flood plains. Shouldn’t we make sure that the best system for managing storm water be implemented?

So what should Oak Bluffs do? If I were making the decision, I’d rescind the $315,000 grant, tell our lawyers to go for it and be grateful that I had an extra $315,000 to pay them.

Brian Hughes

Oak Bluffs