Oak Bluffs selectmen on Tuesday threatened to kick an off-Island contractor out of a staging area on School street after dozens of residents complained about excessive noise and light from the site that was keeping them up at night and generally causing problems in their neighborhood.
The contractor, J. Fletcher Creamer and Son, was hired by the Oak Bluffs water district to replace the water mains along several downtown streets, including Circuit and South Circuit avenues. Last month, the company received permission from selectmen to use a staging area behind the Good Shepherd parish hall on School street to store construction materials and equipment.
The vote to allow use of the site restricted crews and trucks from using the lot from between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. At the time, water district officials told selectmen that work crews would not cause a disturbance to the neighborhood.
But after work began last week, both individual selectmen and town hall were flooded with complaints about noisy trucks and bright lights from the site in the middle of the night, and at least two people said they had to miss work because of lack of sleep.
Although selectmen ultimately came up with what seemed to be a peaceful resolution Tuesday — further limiting the company’s use of the site to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. — it was not without harsh words for the contractor and some rancor between one selectman and the town water superintendent.
Discussion began when water administrator Lois Norton apologized to neighbors and selectmen for the disruption caused at the site.
“It was our understanding that the contractor would enter the site around 9 p.m. and not return until the next morning. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened . . . I understand the neighbors concerns because if this happened to me I would be right there next to you to complain,” Ms. Norton said.
Although Ms. Norton said schedules have been shifted to curb noise and disturbance, some selectmen still criticized the contractor for failing to keep previous promises.
“Too often during these presentations we’ve heard what they will try to do — when in reality it shouldn’t be what they will try — it should simply be what they will or won’t do,” selectman Ron DiOrio said. “This comes down to credibility, and as far as I’m concerned they haven’t held up their end of the bargain . . . I am prepared tonight to tell [the contractor] to pack their things and get out of that site.”
Oak Bluffs water superintendent Deacon Perrotta said the water district had properly reacted to the problem and took exception to being lumped together with the contractor.
“To paint this as we are not doing our job is just wrong,” Mr. Perrotta said. “We just heard about this Friday and here we are today to address it. We are doing what we are supposed to do . . . if you don’t want us to do the project then I have no problem not doing this project.”
Chairman Kerry Scott tried to bring some levity to what had quickly become a tense moment.
“We are not painting anything one way or the other, we are simply describing what happened. What was approved is not what’s happening . . . these people here have described lights brighter than daylight invading their homes at 3 a.m. and the interminable beep, beep, beep of a truck backing up,” she said.
In the middle of the argument was Bob Gowen, a consulting engineer overseeing the project for the water district. Mr. Gowen said the contractor’s superintendent has been cooperative and has started doing more work during the day. He stressed the staging area was vital for completing the project by December as planned.
“That area is essential,” Mr. Gowen said. “My hope is that you could work with us to find an agreeable solution.”
Several selectman and town officials said they were reluctant to shut down the site, noting that the project needs to be done on time.
“I think it’s a little out of hand to be talking about shutting down a site because this project will bring what we need and what we need is water,” selectman Greg Coogan said.