COUNTY OF DUKES COUNTY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, September 25, 2002 at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.
Commissioners Present: Leslie H. Leland, Chairman
E. B. Collins
Leonard Jason, Jr.
Absent: Daniel Flynn
Also Present: Carol Borer, County Manager Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant
Noreen Flanders, County Treasurer
Sheriff McCormack David O’Sullivan, Special Sheriff
Dianne Powers, Register
Joshua Sabatini, Vineyard Gazette
Stephen Berlucchi, County Engineer
TJ Hegarty, Rodent Control Officer
Sandra Lothrop, Associate Commissioner
Mary Lee McCormack, Deputy Superintendent
Beth Toomey, Chief of Police, West Tisbury
Manuel Estrella III, Fire Chief, West Tisbury
Paul Condlin, Chief of Police, Edgartown
Doug Fortes, Chief of Police, Aquinnah
Dennis Alley, Fire Chief, Oak Bluffs
Richard Clark, Retired Fire Chief, Tisbury
John F. Schilling, Fire Chief, Tisbury
Timothy S. Rich, Chief of Police, Chilmark
John Early, Assistant Fire Chief, West Tisbury; Representative of
Dukes County Fire Chiefs Association
Eric A Perry Woodrow Williams
Kelli Stewart James D. Neville
David Murphy Anson W. Krickl Jr.
Durwood Araujo John Hanavan
Chairman Leland opened the meeting at 7:30 PM.
Commissioner Sawyer Moved that the Minutes of the Meeting of September 11, 2002 be approved as written. Commissioner Collins Seconded the Motion.
The Minutes were approved by a Unanimous vote.
Mrs. Borer welcomed the Police and Fire Chiefs and Public Safety Officials. Chairman Leland read letters of support for the Sheriff’s plans for a new Jail and a Public Safety Building, sent by Police Chief Joseph C. Carter of Oak Bluffs and Sergeant Robert W. Moore, Station Commander, Massachusetts State Police, D-5 Oak Bluffs (attached.) The Sheriff was introduced.
The Sheriff thanked the Chairman for putting him on the Agenda and thanked the Public Safety individuals who came to support the dual proposal. The Sheriff began:
Back in 1999 when I first took Office, the first thing that I wanted to bring to the attention of the County Commissioners was the condition of the facility that we operate down on Main Street, the Jail and House of Corrections. To that end, I asked the Commissioners to form a citizens’ Task Force that would look into the Jail and tell the Commissioners, recommend to the Commissioners, whether that Jail should be replaced, remodeled, and if in fact it should be replaced, where it should be replaced, at its present site or at the Airport site, or any other site that was within the County and to give other recommendations as they saw fit. I think it’s important at this point in time just to review what their findings were, because it has been a while since we issued those findings.
The findings of the Task Force:
1. Voted unanimously, agreed that the existing facility is a dangerous building that is
not adequate to meet the basic needs of the inmates or the staff and should be
replaced. So, number one, they said, yes, this building should be replaced.
2. The Task Force unanimously agreed that due to the current state of the existing
facility, the size limitations at the existing site, and the high cost of upgrade, that the
proper course of action would be to focus on building a new building.
3. The Task Force unanimously agreed that a County owned site near the Martha’s
Vineyard Airport known as the Northeast Quadrant, should be pursued as the logical
site for a new facility.
4. It gave some recommendations as to the size of that facility.
What I want to focus on tonight is recommendation number 3, because I think the first two everybody agrees on that has seen the present facility. Number 4 certainly is open to discussion, further discussion, but number 3 is where I want to focus on tonight, the site. Let me tell you why the site is important. In 1999, we started this thing. We issued the findings in February of 2000. After we issued the findings and the County Commissioners accepted those findings, I was told that they agreed that the site at the Airport should be pursued. However, it depended on a study that was being conducted by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. That study, I was originally told would be about 12 to 18 months in length. It is now over in excess of 2 ½ years. Time is becoming critical.
The conditions at the Jail aren’t getting any better. In fact they’re getting worse over the last 2 ½ years and in my opinion will continue to deteriorate. So, the site is paramount. Why is it paramount? Again, there’s funding. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has issued a 30 million dollar Bond Bill specifically for renovations or replacements of Jails and Houses of Correction at the County level. So, the money’s available. It’s not going to be available forever, so the time to act is now. It’s been 2 ½ years. I haven’t heard a word from the Airport Commissioners and just so we know what the site is that we’re talking about…this diamond shaped area (Sheriff pointing to map) is the square mile at the Airport. It contains 640 acres. This blue area here off the Airport or Barnes Road, along the bike path, is the site that we would like to use jointly, as a
Jail site and as a site for a Public Safety Training Facility. The Jail, hopefully, on this end. The Training Facility hopefully on this end…is what we had in mind. This (another map) is sort of a conception of what the Jail would look like on that half of that outlined area.
So, to this end, I would like the County Commissioners to once again, perhaps, no longer wait for some other body to give us an answer as to the site and instead, do whatever is possible or take whatever action is necessary to pursue and actively pursue the site. I’d like to ask the County Commissioners to give me a timetable as to when that may take place, hopefully over the course of the next few months. Timing is a little bit critical. Money is available now. Time is critical as far as the condition of the old facility. I think it needs to be replaced. I think everyone who’s seen it agrees to that and to that end I’ve asked some of the other Public Safety officials to come here tonight, to be recognized and to give their opinions as to both the Jail and/or a Public Safety
Facility, both located at the Airport site.
First, I’d like to ask, if I could, Mr. Chairman, John Early to stand, be recognized and talk about the Public Safety building. John.
Thanks Sheriff. I’m John Early, West Tisbury Assistant Fire Chief. I was asked by the Dukes County Fire Chiefs’ Association to speak before the Airport Advisory Committee when they had a Hearing. That was back in December of last year. And the Chiefs’ Association’s been interested in an on-Island training facility for a number of years. And it seems they’ve had discussions with the Airport Commission over the years regarding the dedication of a parcel of land at the Airport. Currently, some fire training is held on the Island but there’s no training site as such. And firefighters have to travel to off-Island sites for certain courses. A local training center would allow more comprehensive programs with broader participation. The
Chiefs felt that a multi-use and inter-department complex would be a more efficient use of public resources. It would have a higher degree of eligibility for State and Federal grants that might be available. Similarly, local and regional funding sources would be more amenable to a multi-purpose facility. The Fire Chiefs have not discussed this concept with any other Island Public Safety agencies nor have they identified funding mechanisms. We don’t have a site plan. This could only be developed after a site is identified, but the general requirements for such a facility would be a land area of about 4 to 6 acres, access to Barnes Road and the West Tisbury – Edgartown Road, both of which are available at this proposed site. It should be outside the clear zone so that elevation of structures is not an issue and that’s also acceptable here. Water supply would be required, connection to the Airport and Oak Bluffs’
system. We need underground electrical service and then some sort of structure with a meeting room and storage area, parking for about 100 vehicles. This is an ideal site for this and I’m sure that all the Dukes County Fire Chiefs will be very supportive of this. Personally, I’d like to express my support for the Sheriff’s proposal for a Jail facility. This has not been a subject of discussion at my Board of Selectmen but I will take it to that Board. Thank you.
Chairman Leland – Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you. (He indicated he would go right around the room introducing speakers.)
Sheriff – Chief Toomey, do you mind standing and saying a few words?
Chief Toomey - Sure. I’ve been in support of the Sheriff in his quest for a new Jail facility and also for the Public Safety building, the Jail particularly. I’ve worked for three other Police Departments, experienced all the different ways that the booking part of the Jail operates. We’re very lucky to have that feature here. And I don’t know if I get this across correctly, but understand, off-Island, most towns, individually, each town books their people they arrest and bring in. And we have the luxury…and then they have to babysit them or watch them all night and that requires a lot of manpower, or people power…officer power. So we’re very lucky here to have this facility and this system. That we have a regional lockup system, ‘cause
understand, each town would have to build in their individual Police Department, individual cells that pass State mandates of what has to be in there. And it’s quite extensive. I was part of the Northboro Police Station’s Building Committee and what went into building the Jail cells downstairs and when it was all said and done and we did it and they came out with a 15 minute check. We have to check people every certain amount of minutes and the Chief said, ‘I regret ever doing this and I wish instead I’d pushed for a regional system.’ So, we’re very lucky to have a regional system, but now it’s time to support the Sheriff and his need for a new adequate building for the safety of the deputy sheriffs, for the safety of the prisoners themselves, for everyone involved, for my officers going to that Facility to bring people in. We’re depending on them when we leave people there to have adequate resources there to take
care of them. They do the very best they can. How old is that building, Sheriff?
Sheriff - That building was constructed in 1873. So.
Chief Toomey - So, I’m not going to say anything more.
Sheriff – Thank you. Chief Condlin.
Chief Condlin – I am Chief Paul Condlin from Edgartown Police. …I was on a Task
Force in 1995, Dukes County Jail Study Committee and it’s the same findings that we hear today. 1999…in the minutes of the meeting, it’s the same findings. A few things…why it was unacceptable in 1995, it’s not centrally located. It’s great to be in Edgartown, but a bad location. But we need a central facility. Another time…it was sited that at a gateway to the historic district in Edgartown, densely populated residential area, close proximity to a local elementary school, inadequate site security, … park or even outside recreation area. I mean they have one acre of land. And there’s not much they can do with that. They really need to look for a larger area for future growth and/or development. And I think the building
Sheriff – 1873
Chief Condlin – It’s time to move on. And not just go through these committees, committee after committee after committee and you go to different Boards and try to push this through. The time is now, to act. Look at liability concerns with fire safety. It’s not a safe environment for the staff, or the people we’re helping. And that to me would be a glaring concern. If safety violations are documented, you’re leaving yourself wide open. And it would be sad if somebody got hurt at this time, after so many hearings and so many committee meetings and nothing was done. The time is now. You just have to commit to a site. Nobody wants this in your backyard and the Airport seems like a logical place for it.
Sheriff – Thank you Chief and that’s a good point, about nobody’s backyard. I think that this site which would be bordered over here by the State Forest and over here by the Airport, the Business Park is all the way over here on the other side of the runway, so it’s separated by both runways, and then it’s separated by the State Forest. It IS in nobody’s backyard. That’s a real key issue when people go to site Jails…it’s where’s it’s going to be. Is it going to be in my backyard or your backyard?
Condlin - We went through that with this committee and it was the option back then.
Sheriff – It’s the most logical option certainly in my opinion and in the Task Force’s opinion, and anybody else who takes an unbiased look at it. Chief Rich.
Chief Rich – I’m Tim Rich from Chilmark. I’ve got one better than that, I think, Paul. I’ve been the Chief for 23 years. In the early ‘80s, which makes me feel old ‘cause I’m the last one that was part of that original group of Sheriff Look and the other Chiefs…we had a very similar meeting. The exact same issues were identified then. The only thing that’s changed is the risk and exposure to liability, the volume of prisoners that’re going in and out of there and the dynamics of what’s going on in downtown Edgartown. And I know 2 ½ years ago…I’ve been monitoring this kind of from afar because it looked like positive progress was being made. And it was on a front burner and now it seems to have slipped to a back
burner until this unfortunate escape this summer and we put it back into the forefront. And I can’t more strongly endorse and support that we move forward as quickly as possible and now it seems like the funding’s available with regard to the new Jail. And also in regards to the Public Safety Training Facility…since post 9/11, a lot more demands are being put on the local Police and Fire with the different types of threats that weren’t even on the radar screen a year ago. And we’re being put under a lot of pressure and we have to go off-Island. It’s being required by the State and the Federal people…that we have to take it. And it’s creating a burden to the local departments to have to send all of our people to these different seminars that they have in regions spread about the State. If we had an adequate facility on the Vineyard, we’d all be able to bring everyone together under one roof. We already have a really good working relationship. This would help foster a better
working relationship. I would also urge the Commissioners to try to move forward as quickly as possible and I also think the funding right now on all the Homeland Security and all the other programs being discussed…plus I think there’s going to be a lot of funding available. We are an Island, a County. We have 6 entities along with the State Police and the Sheriff’s Department. We have a lot of notable people that come here. We have Presidential visits, we have kings and queens and everyone else. This Island is a real threat for something to happen. And I think any of the support that you folks could help us…apparent to that would be appreciated. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you Chief. Chief Fortes.
Chief Fortes – I’m Doug Fortes, from Aquinnah. A lot of the points that I was going to be making have already been made, but I’d like to echo some of the points that are particularly strong to me. In particular, Chief Toomey’s points about the fact that the Sheriff’s Department does do the booking for all Departments and so forth. These things…and we get questionnaires on a monthly basis…regarding owning facilities and so on and so forth. These are things that individual towns find incredible cumbersome. Police Departments would be weighed down in the need for individual Departments such as mine which is a really small Department, to have the staff that would be required to book in-house prisoners is really something that we just could not afford. The
fact that the Sheriff’s Department does this for the Island is incredible and they really deserve an adequate facility in which to do this. In terms of the Public Safety Building, Island officers commute to training. It’s as simple as that. We get blocks…..anything else requires a SSA trip to a training facility. These are overtime costs. These are costs that…there’s SSA issues, etc. I just really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this issue. It’s long past due and I will cut my comments off at that point. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you very much Chief. Chief Estrella.
Chief Estrella – I’m West Tisbury Fire Chief, Manny Estrella. John Early represents the Dukes County Fire Chiefs and I’ll just let it go at that. He’s said everything that I agree with.
Sheriff – Thank you Chief. Chief Alley.
Chief Alley – Chief Alley, Oak Bluffs. I’m only going to say a couple of words. It seems that this has been going on and on and on and on. And I just think that everyone here in this room must see how bad we really need this. I gotta couple of fire trucks in Oak Bluffs that are over 41 years old. And I thought that was old. But the Jail being built in 1873 would top that one! I think it’s definitely the time. Again, I defer to any other comments back to John Early who’s spoken for us.
Sheriff – Thank you Chief. Retired Chief Clark. Would you like to give some of the history of perhaps the lack of training facility?
Retired Chief Clark – I’m the oldest!
Carol Borer – Would you like your plan from May, ’87?
Chief Clark – No. I became Fire Chief in 1979 and at that time, Chiefs were already talking about a Training Facility. Arnie Fischer was Chief. At one point we were given a spot on a map that we could have (holding up the Airport map.) Two years later it sort of shrunk and then two years later we were given another piece. I’ve been on here so long I’ve retired already and we don’t have it! We need a place. The Island needs a Training Facility. There’s no question. There’s no question. And it’s been going on for almost 30 years. It’s time.
Sheriff – Thank you Chief. Chief Schilling.
Chief Schilling – I don’t have the history that Chief Clark has. By the way, I’m Chief Schilling of Tisbury, Dick’s replacement. But I would like to echo some of the points that were brought up by Chief Rich, that since 9/11, the responsibilities of First Responders and Fire and EMS have greatly changed and our mission has changed to things that we never even thought we ever had to plan for on Martha’s Vineyard. To adequately train for these missions, the place to do that is not in your neighborhood. That’s where, as Fire and EMS, we have been conducting our training, at the end of dead end roads, vacant lots. We can’t continue to do that with the development we’ve had on Martha’s Vineyard. In Tisbury, most of the places we used to go out
and just test the Fire hoses, we can’t do that anymore. We don’t have long enough tracts of undeveloped land to do that. But to be going out and preparing for hazardous materials response, or biohazard, it’s not to be doing that in somebody’s backyard. We need a place where we can do this securely where we’d not be interrupting the lives of people. Do it in an adequate environment that’s safe for the people that are training, and the best place to do it is in this area here. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you very much Chief. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I’ve also invited some of the people that actually work at the Jail facility. And I think it’s important that the Commissioners hear firsthand from the people that actually have to work inside that facility. And some of their comments that they might have. I’ll start with Special Sheriff O’Sullivan.
Special Sheriff O’Sullivan – Thank you Sheriff, Commissioners. My name is Dave O’Sullivan. I’m a 24 year employee of the Sheriff’s Office. I’ve seen it all in there. I don’t know of anybody that’s seen any more than I. You hear a lot of the stories and a lot of conditions. I’d just like to give you one little situation on a daily basis and that’s the locking system for the cells. As the Sheriff said, the building was built in 1873. The locks, large heavy duty locks that are built right into the granite, 1872, Boston, MA. To open these locks, to open the cells, you need both hands. You have to hold the bolt, insert the key, and turn them both to then open. Some of those locks are very difficult. You
have to sort of jiggle. Experience tells you…ah…got it, turn. To open, it’s very difficult to do. Through our policies and practices, we run scenarios and one of which is an emergency situation. Smoke out. The Fire Department would understand that. Where we cloud the cell or blindfold the officers to try to go in there and do that, get a hold of the lock, put the key in, and turn and open that while the people in there are screaming yelling at you to ‘get me outa here,’ because of those situations. So that’s just one simple thing that’s done every day, opening these locks. It becomes very difficult. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you David. Deputy Superintendent McCormack.
Deputy Superintendent McCormack – My name is Mary Lee McCormack. And I’ve worked at the Jail for well over 20 years. And I’d just like to bring a little personal note into it. We had an escape last summer and that’s tragic, but it’s not a tragedy. If we have a fire in that building it is. I happened to have live there with my family and we had a small fire and my children and the Sheriff and I always remember the sound of the screaming men. And the place filling with smoke. Conditions were horrible then and they haven’t changed. So we’re just….at least do the responsible thing now before there’s a real tragedy. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you. Assistant Deputy Superintendent Araujo.
Assistant Deputy Superintendent Araujo – How’re ya doin? I’m Durwood Araujo, Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Operations. I’ve been with the Department for about 11 years. I’m just going to agree with what everybody said here. This all was started when I started 11 years ago…that we would receive a new facility. Again, I’ve been here for 11 years and nothing has happened. It’s well needed. Everybody said, if there is a fire there, not only are our officers going to be hurt, also inmates and everybody else. So I would greatly appreciate if everybody would come together to move this project along. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you, Woody. Assistant Deputy Superintendent Sheehan.
Assistant Deputy Superintendent Sheehan – Hi. I’m in charge of Human Services in the Jail. Right now we have no space to offer any programs to the inmates who are there. While they are with us, we do try to provide some services. To do that we do it in our dining hall, which serves as the eating place for inmates for 3 meals a day. It serves as our visit room. It serves for our religious services, AA group substance abuse and education. And when it’s not serving all of those, it’s the recreation area. So, that’s what we’re working with.
Sheriff – Thank you. Captain Neville.
Captain Neville – I’m Jim Neville. I’ve been with the Sheriff’s Office for 9 years. In the past I was in the position of Fire Safety Officer. And I’d just like to make the point that currently tonight, over half of the Jail population, are in cell blocks that don’t have secondary egresses. So this is something that’s on-going. You know, it’s a daily battle that we go through, and we all realize this, but there’s really nothing we can do about it. But I think this is the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s going to help us get there…build a proper facility. Thanks.
Sheriff – Thank you Captain. And there are other individuals who work for the Sheriff’s Office here and I’m sure that they would echo what’s been said already. I just don’t want to drag this out too long. There are also other members in the community, people who, like the County Engineer, who has to come down and help me sort of rearrange areas, add areas, and take a look at locks and fencing and everything else. I’m sure he can testify as to the conditions there. We even have our Rodent Control Officer here who we have called down on numerous occasions to go into the cellar and he probably has a real birds eye view of what the bowels of the place looks like and maybe he’d like to just give you a view of that. T. J.
T. J. Hegarty – I’m T. J. Hegarty. I’d not only like to talk as a Rodent Control Officer, but I was a member of the Jail Task Force for a year, that came out with the latest report. And also just as a private citizen here on Martha’s Vineyard. What people don’t know is I also have a contract and supervisory license and also 35 years experience in construction fields. Not one person in this room would live in the Jail, would tolerate the conditions that exist at the Jail. You would not bring your mother, your children, wife, you would not live in it. There are campsites, tents that are safer to live in. There is no way to secure the facility from rodent infestation. Stone foundations are notorious. Short of trenching down 3 feet on the outside,
stuccoing up the walls with concrete, and they’d still find a way in. There’s still light when you go down there and shut the lights off. It’s an accident waiting to happen. We found this out as a member of the Task Force. It’s an accident waiting to happen. We also were given the option of rebuilding, filling the entire area with a Jail facility at Pine Street. You talk about ‘not in my backyard.’ Or not at the front of Main Street on the way into Edgartown. It is a totally inappropriate place to build or have a Jail facility such as exists or needs to exist on this Island. Every person in this room knows that a new Jail facility is needed and it’s needed desperately. This acreage at the Airport that the Commissioners have control of is the most perfect and optimum location for such a facility. As well as the Training Facility for all our support services and all the things that
were echoed here this evening. It is time to move on. We talk about fragmented towns and self rule, this County effort unites everyone in a common goal. It doesn’t threaten any individual town’s autonomy, and yet it provides services that are so desperately needed to bring this Island and this community really into the Twenty-first Century. Thank you.
Sheriff – Thank you T. J. So, Mr. Chairman, I would ask you please and the rest of the Commissioners to unite, to take some action, to come up with a plan, to come up with a timetable, and do so please as soon as you possibly can. Conditions there, as everyone has testified, aren’t getting better. The money is available. This is County property. I think it’s appropriate to move forward. And I ask you to do so, please. Thank you.
Chairman Leland – Thank you Mike. I’d like to mention that I also served on that Task Force along with T. J. and a lot of other individuals for 9 or 10 months, whatever it was. It was certainly enlightening and everything that’s been said here is the truth that we need a new facility. And certainly where it’s located now is not the best place. We can’t build on that. And I think it is time for the Commissioners to be more proactive and to step up to the plate and to take control. We have been waiting patiently for the Airport Commissioners and their Phase III and to designate that part of Northeast Quadrant as non-aviation use. I think it’s time now that we should instruct our County Manager to contact the powers that be, whether they be Senators,
Representatives, whomever can assist us in making this Northeast Quadrant as a non-aviation area so that we could then proceed with the Jail Facility and for other purposes such as Training Facilities. I think it’s just absolutely essential that we do it and you know, it’s necessary, needed, and now’s the time to do it. We certainly have a lot of support here. I think we can gather more support from the community. They read and hear about the situation…. And I’d like to ask my fellow Commissioners to comment. Bob.
Commissioner Sawyer – Just on the comment side, there’s something I’d like to point out that hasn’t been said here. It’s my sense, and I think it’s quite true. You mentioned the community, Mr. Chairman. There are people in our community who have some opposition to this facility. And in that regard we haven’t perhaps done as good an education process because the issue is not whether this is a good idea or not, the issue is really very simple. We need a new facility. That’s not open for discussion. The issue is do we build a new facility at the present site? Or do we go this infinitely more desirable site? That’s the question. And the answer to that question has to be obvious to anybody who considers it. Mr.
Chairman, I’d like to make a Motion for discussion. I suspect there may be amendments but it’s a good place to start.
Commissioner Sawyer - I Move that the County Commissioners endorse and support the concept of development of a joint new Jail and County Public Safety and Training Facility to be located in the Northeast Quadrant of the Dukes County Airport. Further, that the County Commissioners proceed to attempt to make this project viable within the shortest possible timetable.
Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.
Chairman Leland noted the Motion was made and Seconded, and called for discussion.
Commissioner Collins – Didn’t we pass the Vote for this facility 2 years ago?
Commissioner Sawyer – We never embraced endorsing this concept as presented to us. That’s my memory.
Commissioner Collins – I thought we endorsed the thing at the time it was presented a long time ago.
County Manager Borer – You endorsed the findings of the Task Force.
Commissioner Collins – Yes.
County Manager Borer – And I believe the County Commissioners agreed to then wait until the Master Plan was done to see when this land might be available.
Commissioner Collins – That’s if it would be available.
County Manager Borer – Correct.
Commissioner Collins – And the Master Plan still hasn’t been completed.
County Manager Borer – That’s correct.
Commissioner Collins – It’s supposed to be completed when?
Chairman Leland – About 2 years ago.
Commissioner Collins – The last I heard it was due some time this month or next.
County Manager Borer – But I heard…If you don’t mind…. I heard that last month…. This has been going on for a while I think, E. B.
Commissioner Collins – I know that.
County Manager Borer – Yes.
Commissioner Collins – But my only point about the Motion is that I thought we had endorsed this proposal a long time ago. I have no problem with endorsing it. I’ve been in favor of it since the presentation.
County Manager Borer – Right.
Commissioner Collins – And the only question I have is what power do we, as the County Commissioners have to move this forward? We do not have control of that property. I don’t think. Do we?
County Manager Borer – I’ll wait ‘til the Commissioners finish with their discussion.
Commissioner Jason – We may not have control of the property, but we have a Statutory obligation to make sure we have a safe facility. And Bob’s second part of his Motion was to get this thing off the dime and I think that’s what we’re trying to do. Whatever it takes, something has to be done. We talk about a facility that was built in 1873. To get a clearer picture of that, that was when General Grant was President. That was the first President after the Civil War! I mean that’s….(laughter) Many people said the time is now. I agree. The time was actually in 1995!
Commissioner Collins – The time was…it’s long since past time.
Commissioner Jason – Yes!
Commissioner Collins – I’m not disagreeing with the Motion, I’m just trying…how do we move it forward? …comment on one thing…we’re all in favor of it. The question is how do we get it done?
County Manager Borer – E. B. I think that the County Commissioners certainly have talked for quite a while about how to take a stand on that this is County property. And Bob’s Motion was to attempt to do basically whatever is necessary to get this site designated as a Non-aeronautical facility. If it means talking with our Legislators at the Federal and State level, if it means having meetings, negotiations with FAA, if it means the County Commissioners say, this is our property and this is what we want to happen, then we need to take that stand and do whatever we need to do to get that done.
Commissioner Collins – We’re late.
Chairman Leland – Well we’ve been patiently waiting for the Airport Commission to do their Phase studies and…as Chief Clark mentioned…and I’ve been on subcommittees way back when the Airport Commission…and heard it 20 years ago. It keeps going on, say yes, that’s going to be your piece of property, but we’ve gotta do this and that.
County Manager Borer – If I could just add one more thing also. I’ve met with the Police Chiefs. I’ve met with the Fire Chiefs. We’ve had many discussions about this and based on conversations with our Congressman, the money is there for a Public Safety Facility, for instance, but we don’t have a site. Why are we going to lose an opportunity and lose the money? So let’s push ahead.
Commissioner Wey – Carol, can we override the Airport Commissioners in this issue of the Plan?
County Manager Borer – I believe, yes.
Commissioner Wey - Can we take hold of that and force the plan ourselves?
County Manager Borer – I believe that now is the time to do that.
Commissioner Wey – ‘ Cause if we don’t, this could be another 2 years.
County Manager Borer – Yes.
Commissioner Wey – And you know, we lost 2 years already waiting for this. I think it’s about time that the County Commissioners step forward on this issue. On the two plans, the new Jail and the Public Safety Building. Two very very important issues facing this Island.
County Manager Borer – Yes. And the County Commissioners have been very patient. The Airport Commissioners have been here often. The Airport Manager’s been here often. And they’ve always said, just wait, they’re working on the Airport Master Plan. But we’ve heard that for a pretty long time. I’ve had discussions with FAA, please move forward in designating the property. They’re waiting for the Airport to finish the Master Plan. We can no longer wait.
Chairman Leland – Commissioner Collins?
Commissioner Collins – I call for a Vote on the Motion.
Chairman Leland – Call for a Vote. All those in favor?
All said Aye.
The Motion was Passed by a Unanimous Vote.
Commissioner Collins – Anyone have any positive approaches on how we move this forward? I’m tired of hearing about it. I’d like to see something done. I don’t know what to do, but I’m ready to do whatever can be done. Any ideas?
Chairman Leland – Carol?
County Manager Borer – My recommendation would be to ask perhaps one County Commissioner, and myself, and perhaps the Sheriff, if someone from the Fire Chiefs or Police Chiefs would like to join us, let’s have a meeting and let’s start putting letters together…to our Senators, our Congressmen, our Representatives, to FAA. Have meetings with them, have these plans, and be serious about it and I ask the County Commissioners to put their Motion tonight in writing, ask that the Minutes be in detail to bring with us and start from there. If you do have any other suggestions, ideas, we just need to be…Les is right, we need to be proactive. We can no longer just sit around.
Commissioner Wey – We’ve got to have some kind of timetable on this, you know? To project when all this is going to get done, which should be the shortest possible timetable. And we should have this on our Agenda every meeting to see where we stand on this issue, how far we’ve come.
County Manager Borer – We can certainly.
Commissioner Wey – I think that’s important, to keep it right on track. At County Commissioners meetings, to see where we stand on this and report back where we are.
Commissioner Collins – Suggest also we ask the Airport Manager or somebody to be at the next meeting to give us an update on their Master Plan.
Chairman Leland – We can put that on the Agenda, certainly. Okay. I think one of our issues too is we do have to talk to the FAA, MAC, more specifically probably MAC and put the pressure on to them because of their Grant Assurances that created havoc with us.
County Manager Borer – And we will seek our Aviation Counsel.
Commissioner Collins – I think the FAA is waiting for the Master Plan.
County Manager Borer – And we will seek our Aviation Counsel to assist us in pushing this along.
Commissioner Wey – And I’d like to have the Airport Commissioners at our next meeting also. With the Airport Manager. Get everybody in the same room for a conversation.
Commissioner Jason – Empty of all guns?
Commissioner Wey – We’ve got the Chief here!
Commissioner Sawyer – Mr. Chairman, may I just add, I think it’s implicit in all the comments but I guess I’d like to say it, that is, I think the County Manager should take from this to be directed to crystal clear and in the strongest possible terms communicate with the Airport Commission how strongly we unanimously feel and the County Commissioners expect the Airport Commissioners to take due notice and function accordingly in a very timely fashion.
Commissioner Wey – We’ve told them.
County Manager Borer – And move forward. We’ve already told them, Bob.
Commissioner Sawyer – I understand, but say it again.
Chairman Leland – Any other comments?
Commissioner Jason – I just hope we explore all options, including talking to our Federal Representatives. I mean, if we lose this opportunity, this will be the second money opportunity we’ve lost since 1995. We had a 5 million dollar project go down the chute because our Representative didn’t like it. So we shouldn’t go in this with our eyes half open.
Commissioner Sawyer – Lenny Jason brings up a point that Michael, you may or might now want to elaborate on and that is this window of opportunity includes funding is available. And in these strange times…who knows what the future holds. That’s a window we want to step through.
Sheriff – If I can just elaborate a little, Mr. Chairman. On July 1st, $30 million became available to County Sheriffs to replace, renovate, or rebuild their Jail Facilities. I have personally talked to all the other County Sheriffs and except for a couple of $3 million projects here or $5 million projects there, amounting to less than half of the total of $30 million, nobody else has an interest. Now it doesn’t mean that in 6 months from now some Sheriff’s not going to get a bright idea and have an interest in that money. But I think, if we act quickly, that we can then sort of secure our piece of that $30 million. Enough certainly to complete the project that we wanna do. So I think that has to be considered when we start setting up timetables. The
Legislative year ends next June 30th.
Chairman – Thank you.
With no further comments, there was a 10 minute recess. 8:19 PM.
8:25 PM meeting resumed.
Chairman Leland thanked Sheriff McCormack for his presentation and voiced appreciation for the supportive turnout.
Commissioner Jason said the Sheriff has been more than patient. He stressed this was the County Commissioners’ responsibility. The Chairman agreed action was long overdue.
Commissioner Sawyer noted the Health Council would be meeting the next day and should have the responses of a survey that it sent out asking about the future of that Council. Commissioner Collins mentioned the recent Health Plan meeting and said the Health Council was starting to do something. To split could cause ‘turf wars.’ Commissioner Sawyer said he believed many Health Council members who had been opposed to the split with the Island Health Plan, now see the merit in it. Commissioner Collins said there was much work to be done. Commissioner Jason asked if Commissioner Sawyer meant he wasn’t going to file special Legislation with Representative Turkington. Commissioner Sawyer said he was not sure, that he needed to see if the Health Council wanted him to. Chairman
Leland asked who had proposed the Legislation and who Commissioner Sawyer was representing? Commissioner Sawyer reported that after Ropes and Gray’s opinion about the two Boards being separate was made known, he phoned Rick Manley. Commissioner Sawyer said Rick Manley told him one ‘ideal way’ to deal with the two Boards, those of the Health Council and Island Health Plan, would be by special Legislation. He added that Mr. Manley said that would eliminate liability factors. Commissioner Jason said that since it had been mentioned, he thought it should be ‘on the table.’ Commissioner Sawyer said, yes, this was a possibility.
Commissioner Collins asked for an update about the draft RFP for part of the New York Avenue property. He suggested adding a clause about a penalty for failure to use the land for agricultural purposes as outlined, since that was what the Commissioners had previously approved. That would clarify that that piece of the property had to be used for agricultural purposes and nothing else. Further discussion was postponed as Commissioner Sawyer needed another copy of the draft.
Commissioner Jason said he was disturbed to read in the Cape Cod Times that SSA member Galen Robbins was suing the Selectmen and that taxpayer money was being used to pay his attorney. He asked that the Commissioners ask Mr. Raskin how that happened.’ Commissioner Sawyer said it was discussed at the last SSA meeting and that Sayres had determined it was appropriate since SSA members were not paid. Commissioner Jason asked that the Commissioners get the Minutes of the meeting to see the vote. Commissioner Sawyer said there was no vote. Commissioner Jason added that it had already been decided. Commissioner Sawyer said Fred Raskin and three voting members made it seem unanimous. Commissioner Jason asked that they find out more. Also, Commissioner Jason noted that he had seen the
plan for the new Islander and that it held 100 cars. He said he thought the idea was to lower the number of cars coming to the Island and keep the 1997 level. He added this was counter to what the Island wanted. Chairman Leland agreed, adding, it was hard to unload even 50 cars.
Commissioner Collins Moved to Adjourn. Commissioner Sawyer
Seconded the Motion. The meeting Adjourned at 8:38 PM.
Complete text of meeting is available on tape at the County Commissioners’ office.
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO, JR.
CLERK OF THE COURTS