Oak Bluffs voters next month will decide whether the town should fund an engineering survey of the town beach, expand the membership of its personnel board and start work to improve the road layout, sidewalks and railings along Seaview avenue.
Selectmen on Tuesday approved 17 articles for a Dec. 11 special town meeting. Selectmen approved all the articles unanimously and with little discussion, including a request for $65,000 for an engineering study of the beach, bank and seawall from the North Bluff to Farm Pond.
The conservation commission is requesting the survey to examine erosion and structural decay at the town beach. Among other things, the commission wants to learn more about the jetty at Inkwell Beach and whether it is slowly starving the beach of sand.
A related article proposed by the community development committee (CDC) seeks $46,000 for an engineering study for making land side improvements along town beach from North Bluff to Farm Pond that would include new railings, signs, plantings, bike racks, lifeguard stands, swim floats and wheelchair access.
The survey would be the first step in an ambitious plan to overhaul and restore the town waterfront at an estimated cost of $2.73 million. The improvements were outlined in a 35-page report released last month by a subcommittee of the CDC charged with developing a plan to revitalize the town beach.
If voters approve the funding for the engineering survey, the CDC plans to seek state and federal funding to offset the overall cost. The conservation commission will also seek state and federal funds if their own funding request for an engineering study is approved by voters.
Selectman and board chairman Kerry Scott said revitalizing the town beach is crucial for the town.
“That beach helps drive our economy and define who we are as a town . . . it is our most valuable asset. For years it has been deteriorated by budget cuts and neglect. We must act quickly to restore it; nothing is more important,” she said.
Other articles that will appear on the special town meeting warrant include:
• A request by the town personnel board to expand membership from three members to five. Several years ago, the former town administrator reduced the personnel board to three members and took over much of the board’s powers and responsibilities. The expanded board is expected to play a larger role in personnel decisions and crafting employee policies.
• A request to transfer $44,000 from free cash for improvements to the Sailing Camp main building. The money would be used to renovate and expand the kitchen to accommodate large functions like weddings and dinners.
• A request to transfer $34,700 from the ambulance reserve fund to purchase a new four-wheel-drive police vehicle.
• A request to transfer $20,000 from free cash to install heat and insulation to the public bathrooms on Kennebec avenue so they can remain open during the winter season.