The Oak Bluffs selectmen will seek damages in small claims court against a Northborough man who cut down a tree in Ocean Park on New Year’s Day without permission.

At their meeting Tuesday selectmen voted to take action against Thomas Hjerpe. Although selectmen did not name Mr. Hjerpe, Oak Bluffs police confirmed in an email to the Gazette Wednesday that he is the person responsible for the unauthorized tree cutting. Mr. Hjerpe, who is 54 according to police, owns two condominiums on Ocean Park.

The 35-foot catalpa tree was cut down some time on New Year’s Day. A Facebook post by Crossland Landscaping, which contracts with the town for maintenance of the park, reported the incident. Police subsequently were called to investigate.

In the email Wednesday, Oak Bluffs police Sgt. Daniel Cassidy said that Mr. Hjerpe had contacted police and town parks and recreation chairman Amy Billings after the incident. “The incident was deemed to be civil and did not appear to be criminal in nature. The parks department and Mr. Hjerpe attempted to come to a resolution on their own,” Sergeant Cassidy wrote.

But at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, board members said after talks between the town and the tree cutter, no resolution could reached. The board voted to authorize town counsel to seek a remedy in small claims court.

Selectman Brian Packish said he would like to see the strongest possible recourse.

“If it’s one tree, two trees, three trees, whatever. It needs to go back and they should be as big as possible,” Mr. Packish said.

In other business Tuesday, selectmen signed off on a complicated internal plan for restructuring the chain of command at the fire department, just as they prepare to interview candidates for a new fire chief.

The town has been without a permanent fire chief since John Rose resigned under pressure in January 2020.

After a lengthy period of interim leadership, selectmen advertised the position last month.

Assistant town administrator Wendy Brough said the town had received 14 applications.

A preliminary review of the candidates is set for Monday in executive session. Once finalists are chosen, the search process will become public.

Town administrator Robert Whritenour announced that his last day on the job will be March 26, when he leaves to take a new job as Yarmouth town administrator.

Selectmen also reappointed Deborah Potter to another three-year term as town accountant, and approved a new seasonal all alcohol license for Flavors MV. Abhisshek Chhibber and his business partner Ralston Francis are taking over the Circuit Avenue business, formerly the Island House.

Mr. Whritenour said the annual town election is set for April 15. The last day to submit nomination papers is Feb. 25 at 5 p.m.