The Aquinnah selectmen expect a swift and easy special and annual town meeting on Tuesday, citing a noncontroversial warrant despite a long list of articles, and plenty of free cash to cover all the spending.
“I don’t see a single thing that’s controversial,” said selectman Camille Rose at Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting.
Money for lighthouse repairs is on Aquinnah warrant.
The night will begin with a special town meeting at 6:45 p.m., followed by the annual town meeting at 7 p.m., at the old town hall. Moderator Walter Delaney will preside over what will be his last town meeting in 36 years. Mr. Delaney is not seeking re-election.[streetview width=”100%” height=”250px” lat=”41.343073″ lng=”-70.813497″ heading=”35.23222748815166″ pitch=”-2.644549763033174″ zoom=”1″][/streetview]
Town coordinator Jeffrey J. Burgoyne said that between the two meetings, articles are mostly “yawners,” except for a handful relating to the sale of a town-owned, landlocked parcel of land.
“It essentially is a situation where if the town were to approve selling it, the proceeds could ultimately, down the road, benefit efforts to create an Aquinnah rental housing program,” said Mr. Burgoyne.
If passed, the articles would give preference to abutters in the purchase of the land parcel, located off of Lighthouse Road. Voters will be asked to set a minimum bid requirement for the property at either $600,000 or the assessed property value, whichever is lower. Mr. Burgoyne said a current assessment would be completed by the end of the summer.
Once sold, the proceeds will be deposited into the general fund, and the equivalent of 50 per cent of the sale price could be made available for the establishment of a rental housing program for income-qualified town employees or residents, pending another town meeting vote.
“It could potentially be a very, very wonderful program. This would be the means by which we could get it off the ground, and up and running,” said Mr. Burgoyne.
Selectman Camille Rose said the board would very much like to see the town establish an affordable rental housing program, in addition to the current town affordable housing program, which focuses mainly on property ownership. “We’d like to be able to encourage people like police, or teachers, to be living in town,” said Ms. Rose. “[And] to have the people who work with us be able to live in town on a rental basis.”
Mr. Burgoyne said he did not think the town would have a problem getting voter approval for all four articles attached to the program. For starters, the land is essentially useless to anyone but abutters because of access issues. “To a landowner other than an existing abutter, it would have no intrinsic value whatsoever because they would not have legal access,” Mr. Burgoyne said.
And while he said Aquinnah plans to continue participating in other all-Island housing initiatives, “this would give the town its place by creating rental housing for town employees and other residents who might not otherwise qualify.”
Also next week voters will be asked to transfer some $20,000 in unspent funds to be used for a financial audit of fiscal year 2009, for the purchase of a new ride-on lawn mower, and to cover the cost of a software system in town hall.
Another article asks for just under $1,000 to cover unpaid wages to town library employees. Three full-time library employees brought the issue before selectmen at a meeting in March, asking that they receive the same holiday benefits as other full-time town employees, which would mean being paid for holidays on which they were not scheduled to work. They claimed that the language in a town bylaw indicated that they should receive the compensation, regardless of work schedule.
In a series of articles voters will be asked to appropriate Community Preservation Act funds totaling roughly $95,000 to be used for projects including the restoration and repair of the Gay Head Lighthouse, restoration and mortgage carrying costs for the Edwin Vanderhoop Homestead, borrowing costs for the library restoration project, the restoration of the Gay Head Community Baptist Church, the extension of a brick walkway at the Cliffs, and the town’s share for an Islandwide project for window replacements at the Dukes County Courthouse.
Voters will be asked to spend $6,000 in CPA money to extend the boardwalk at Philbin Beach, which Ms. Rose said would allow movement to and from the beach with the least impact to the dunes. She said she expects voters to enthusiastically approve the spending. “We’ve never really had enough constructed boardwalk to go the whole distance. People were slipping and sliding in the dunes,” she said.
Other spending requests include:
• $4,000 for plumbing and electrical repairs at the rest rooms facility at the Cliffs;
• $8,000 for maintenance at Menemsha and Squibnocket Great Ponds;
• $7,500 for a gas monitoring system at the Aquinnah landfill;
• $28,000 for highway construction and improvements;
• $900 for floor repairs in the old town hall;
• $5,000 to repair the Moshup Trail culvert;
• $38,000 for triennial property revaluations;
• $35,000 for a new hybrid police vehicle;
• $15,000 to pay for roof and window repairs at the West Tisbury School;
• $500 to pay for a reverse 911 service.
Voters will also be asked to pay Aquinnah’s share of the Vineyard Health Care Access Program, totaling roughly $4,100, and the town’s portion of the county pest management program at some $1,200.
The annual town election will be held Wednesday in the town offices; polling hours are noon to 7 p.m. There are no contests in the election. Selectman Spencer Booker is up for reelection. Michael Hebert, a former selectman, is running for Mr. Delaney’s vacated seat as moderator.
by Megan Dooley