The Working Waterfront

Busy town agenda coincides with busy island life

New Vinalhaven town manager resigns as short-handed board face full plate

Phil Crossman
Posted 2015-07-20
Last Modified 2015-07-20

By Phil Crossman

Vinalhaven is usually governed by a five-member board of selectmen, but this year—this month, anyway—we only have four.  There were no candidates for the two vacancies in the May election and so the top two write-ins were invited to take office.

I had 20-something write-in votes because, at the last minute, I asked a couple of dozen friends to write my name on the ballot—I had issues I felt were not being dealt with and I just couldn’t do otherwise.

The next highest vote-getter had a handful of votes but no interest in accepting the position. By law, that means that a new election has to be organized and folks invited, encouraged, to put their names in nomination.  It’s quite a process, and we hope to generate some interest among our constituency so we can govern for the next year with a full board because we’ve got a lot going on.

The town is involved in some very costly litigation involving land use violations. As a result, we are continually meeting with attorneys or otherwise considering the appropriate course of action. As I said, we’ve got a lot going on.

Meanwhile, the four of us are an interesting and diverse bunch, a couple of guys in their 20s, lobstermen and a couple of business folk, a man and a woman in their 60s and 70s, each very much with his or her own mind, and each with a full plate—notwithstanding the town’s business.

This is a very busy time of year and we have a lot going on. This week we are faced with transferring title to our only on-island lighthouse, a treasured architectural and nautical landmark that, in the minds of some, we can’t afford to maintain anymore—a lot going on.

Our cemeteries have been inadequately maintained for the last year or so, leaving the families of many deceased veterans understandably upset. We are negotiating with someone we hope will do a better job. We have a lot going on.

Repair of or construction of new sidewalks, where, when, how much is an issue that divides our members but one we hope to resolve in the very near future. We have a lot going on.

A warrant article was addressed improperly at our last town meeting and now we need to arrange another to re-visit that one article and cement its intent—lots going on. A major paving project is being arranged, as is the re-surfacing of many miles of our gravel roads. There are many things going on.

One of our treasured old granite bridges has been weakened and we need to strengthen it quickly. We’re in negotiations to accomplish that. The $4 million school budget, after attracting only 12 people to the hearing that preceded the vote, was soundly defeated and its consideration must be rescheduled before we begin another school year.

We’ve got a lot going on and it all needs attention right away, now, in July, when we’ve got nearly all we can handle in our own individual enterprises.  What more can possibly need our attention? Well, at our regular bi-weekly board meeting the other night our new town manager resigned—gave us 30 days notice. Within 24 hours we were in preliminary discussions with likely replacement and are hopeful that we can pull things together, that in a month or so we’ll have a new manager, someone with a greater sense of commitment, and a fifth member of the board to help us deal with things.

We have a lot going on.

Phil Crossman owns and operates the Tidewater Motel on Vinalhaven.