A veterans housing project in Oak Bluffs received select board approval Tuesday and is set to welcome bids from contractors.

The project is planned to house up to 12 Island veterans and will be built at a 3.4-acre lot on 50 Bellevue avenue, just off County Road. It is being spearheaded by the affordable housing committee, the Island Housing Trust (IHT) and the Cape and Island Veterans Outreach Center.

After a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting by affordable housing committee chair Mark Leonard, the select board unanimously endorsed the project’s request for proposal (RFP), allowing IHT to solicit construction pitches.

Mr. Leonard explained that 12 single-bedroom apartments will be divided among three separate buildings on the lot. Apartments will be 650 square feet and open to low- to middle-income veterans year round. Construction is predicted to cost $5.3 million and will be largely funded by the state.

“Building three will, in the basement, have a resource center,” said Mr. Leonard. “One of the requirements in the RFP is to have a resource center where veterans can go for education, computer access, group activities.”

If built, the project would be a first for the Island. There is no dedicated housing for veterans on Martha's Vineyard.

Examining the project’s design, town administrator Deborah Potter expressed concerns about the building’s parking layout and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s a lovely design and I think it’s beautiful, but if I’m a handicapped veteran that seems like an awfully long way for me to be walking in the rain and snow to [my apartment] from the lot,” she said. “Maybe there could be, you know, a couple of parking spots right up there closer.”

The board approved the RFP under the condition that the committee and IHT would reconsider the design to address the concerns.
In other business, the Oak Bluffs police department welcomed two new full-time officers to its force after authorization from the select board.

Officers Jared Stobie and Jared Andrews previously served as temporary special officers on the Island and have several years of experience in law enforcement, explained chief Jonathan Searle.

“We’ve been operating short-staffed at the police department for a while now,” said chief Searle. “We’ve been blessed with these two applicants that come to us fully trained... and they both have housing.”