Oak Bluffs selectmen clashed with their town hall building committee Tuesday over lines of authority as they try to move forward with a revamped town hall construction project.

When bids were opened last month, the lone qualified bid came in $1.7 million over the $7.8 million appropriated for the project.

On Tuesday building committee chairman Bill McGrath told the selectmen that architects and the project manager had gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

“We have identified about $1.7 million in cuts that would allow the town hall to go forward,” Mr. McGrath said. “It brings us down to within budget.”

He said cost savings were achieved by eliminating a basement and a roof dormer and using less expensive materials for finish work inside the building.

“From all appearances, it’s going to be the same building we have been planning and talking about,” Mr. McGrath said.

He said the building committee had voted to move ahead with the project by advertising and preparing bid specifications.

But selectmen Gail Barmakian and Brian Packish questioned whether the building committee had the authority to take the next step.

“The selectmen decide whether to go forward,” Ms. Barmakian said. “The decision, I believe, would rest with this board.”

Selectman Brian Packish said the board would need written documentation of the cost-saving changes. “I’m personally not willing to accept $1.7 million was found, and just trust me,” he told Mr. McGrath. “I know you cannot delete $1.7 million from the project and expect to be providing the exact same shiny apple that was promised.”

Selectman Greg Coogan had another view.

“This board needs to remember that we have not injected ourselves into [the building committee’s] decisions day to day with this process,” he said. “They’re the ones spending all the time on this, and I do feel that they are the ones ultimately made the decision in the beginning and will make a decision on this. Staying with their timeline is pretty important.”

With the town project manager estimating that the cost of the project goes up $40,000 for each month of delay, Mr. McGrath said time is of the essence.

“Each two-week delay is going to push us out into never-never land for building it,” he said. “We are struggling with inflation that’s going on. It’s a tough market out there. If we’re going to have a town hall we need to move.”

Mr. Packish disagreed, pointing for example to the temporary trailers on site which were supposed to be occupied by now by town hall workers while construction got underway.

“Haste concerns me,” he said. “We’ve got empty trailers out there all summer that we’ve got to pay for because we got way out in front of a process.”

Mr. McGrath said he would provide documentation by Wednesday morning, and selectmen set a special meeting with the building committee for Friday afternoon for further discussion.

In other business Tuesday, the selectmen got an earful from residents who are unhappy over the fence under construction at the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank’s Trade Wind Fields Preserve.

“What we’re seeing happening at Trade Winds represents a failure,” said Mark Jenkins. “It represents a failure to some extent of the people that used it. It represents a failure on the part of the land bank. There was an opportunity to stop that and come up with a solution. The land bank said we are not doing to do that, we are not going to work with you. They just bulldozed ahead.”

There was a call for the selectmen to take action.

“You are the highest elected officials in Oak Bluffs,” said Phil Cordella. “This is happening in Oak Bluffs. You could pass a motion to direct the land bank to take the fence down. This is an organization that’s way out of control.”

Selectmen said they have no authority over the land bank.

“It’s a legislative body, and it would appear it’s out of our purview,” said selectman Michael Santoro. “It’s unfortunate that they’re not listening. We’re neighbors; they’re not acting neighborly.”

Last week the board had invited land bank executive director James Lengyel to attend the meeting, but instead he sent a two-page letter outlining the land bank’s reasons for the fence, which aims to protect the fragile sandplain grassland that has become trampled from overuse.

“As a last resort, the land bank has accepted that the only way to achieve its conservation goals is the separate the grassland from the recreational trails with a fence,” Mr. Lengyel wrote.

Some selectmen expressed dismay that Mr. Lengyel did not attend the meeting after having been invited.

“I think it’s healthy, responsible and respectful to appear at a meeting of the highest board in the town to have an open dialogue,” Mr. Packish said. “The land bank had a responsibility to appear here. I will leave that invitation open. If they choose to, that’s great, if they choose not to, that’s unfortunate.”

Selectmen took no other action but agreed to seek a meeting with land bank commissioners and the town’s land bank advisory board in the near future.

The board also denied permission to a photographer to post private signs on Town Beach, popularly known as the Inkwell.

Photographer Michael Johnson had posted the signs that included his photograph of the Polar Bears, an iconic group that meets for swimming and breakfast at the Inkwell in the summer months. Mr. Johnson makes the picture available for sale.

“It is the best commercial for Oak Bluffs that Oak Bluffs could have,” he told the selectmen.

But the selectmen declined to make an exception to town policy.

“The town does not allow private permanent signs on public property,” Ms. Barmakian said.