MV Gazette, on August 19th, 2011

Taxi rates and regulations set, ride from Aquinnah not cheap

Aquinnah selectmen on Tuesday approved the town’s first taxi regulations, adopted a maintenance plan for Old South Road and appointed a new assistant harbor master.

The taxi regulations passed with little discussion. Aquinnah Taxi is the only licensed cab company but selectmen said the new regulations could potentially pave the way for more cab companies in town. All new taxi company licenses must first be approved by the selectmen.

Rates for taxi travel between Aquinnah and different Vineyard destinations were also approved. Prices vary widely; a ride from Aquinnah to Katama, Chappaquiddick, West Chop or East Chop is $70, while in-town travel fares are set at $15.

Town administrator and former cab company owner Adam Wilson drafted the regulations. He said a taxi stand at the Aquinnah Cliffs could be considered in the future, but for now there is not enough demand to warrant a designated cab stand.

Selectmen also approved a maintenance plan for a portion of Old South Road which will soon be paved. The town zoning board of appeals granted the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and Dukes County a variance for the project last week, which includes paving a portion of road by Occooch Pond, installing catch basins for sediment runoff and creating vegetative swales on either side.

The county owns the road but the tribe will oversee and pay for the project.

The maintenance plan calls for the majority of work to be handled by the tribe with the town continuing to plow it during winter months. After three years, maintenance duties will be turned over to the town.

Selectman Jim Newman said the town is committed to the upkeep.

“That’s an important thoroughfare for emergency vehicles,” he said. “I have through the years encouraged it to be plowed regardless, so I think it’s important we maintain that road.”

Project leader and natural resources director for the tribe Bret Stearns said both the tribe and town would check the swales and catch basins four times a year; selectman Beverly Wright suggested the maintenance plan include that in writing.

The plan was approved unanimously with the condition that it also be approved by the tribal council. The council is expected to review the plan this week.

Selectmen also appointed Mr. Stearns assistant harbor master.

“If there’s a rescue or something that calls for Bret and his rangers to participate in and help [harbor master Brian (Chip) Vanderhoop] they’re always there,” Mr. Newman said. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea, for liability reasons it would make sense.”

Mr. Stearns will step in when Mr. Vanderhoop is off duty. The position expires June 30, 2012; Mr. Stearns will not receive a stipend.

In other business, resident Geoffrey Craig (Spa) Tharpe is one step closer to reclaiming his excess tax payments. At the annual town meeting in May, Mr. Tharpe petitioned the town to return $5,000 in overpaid taxes, but the article was killed when town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport advised Mr. Tharpe voters could not approve a transfer of funds to i ndividuals.

Mr. Wilson told Mr. Tharpe on Tuesday the town must petition the legislature under the home rule remedy for the town to refund the excess tax payment, and he was in the process of doing that.

by Remy Thumin

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