Chilmark selectmen okay road race with comfort station caveat

— Jonathan Bell

During a busy but fast-moving meeting Tuesday, Chilmark selectmen approved a new storage facility for the Cross Road fire station, reviewed a list of repairs for the piers at Hariph’s Creek and Menemsha harbor, and discussed whether businesses can use flags as signage or advertisement.

Selectmen first reviewed an application for the annual Chilmark Road Race, scheduled to take place at 10:30 am on Aug. 13. Wally Epstein, representing the Chilmark Community, which sponsors the event, said this year’s road race will essentially be the same as last year.

“All the specs will be the same. We are committed to a max of 1,500 participants, with the same number of Port-a-Potties placed in the same places, and we will supervise it the way we did it last summer. We didn’t hear any complaints,” he said.

Chilmark Police chief Brian Cioffi raised concerns about the placement of the portable bathrooms. He said he asked race organizers last year to spread out the porta-potties along the length of the race course, instead of clustering them up near the starting point of the race.

Mr. Cioffi said placing the toilets in the same spot, creates long lines and prompts some people to look for other places to relieve themselves.

“The reality is that people see a line and they go off on to people’s property. There were some people who stood at the end of their driveways to prevent this from happening, and we put extra staff down there to try to prevent that from happening. But it still happens,” the chief said. “In one case the person went right beside my cruiser.”

Mr. Cioffi asked that potties be placed at the start of the race, at the drop-off area near Tea Lane, and also between the bus drop-off area and starting line. He suggested race staff be stationed near the potties to tell people the location of the other bathroom facilities.

Selectmen unanimously approved the application for the road race, with the provision that the chief and race organizers meet to agree on a better bathroom plan.

“We will make it a requirement, and come up with a better system,” Chairman Frank Fenner said.

Selectmen then reviewed a request by Josh Aronie, owner of the Menemsha Café, to place a flag in front of his business indicating he was open. Although Mr. Aronie could not attend the meeting, selectmen noted that zoning bylaws prohibit a business from using a flag as signage or advertisement.

“At this point we just aren’t allowing that, right?” Mr. Fenner, owner of the Galley Restaurant, said. “We are trying to have a nice fishing village down there and the last two years I have seen much more sandwich boards going on the street; I have seen signs, flags . . . we don’t need to put 100 flags saying: we are here.”

“I have never understood why they fly the flags saying they are open, they don’t fly it when they are closed,” added building and zoning inspector Lenny Jason.

Mr. Fenner said selectmen would meet with Mr. Aronie in the future, but also said the bylaw is pretty clear on the issue. “It seems to be the less flags the better. It seems pretty clear when I read the bylaw … that a flag is a sign,” he said.

Selectmen also scheduled a public hearing on a proposed change to a town ordinance that prohibits any type of street peddlers from selling merchandise from a cart or truck at Squibnocket, Menemsha, or Lucy Vincent beaches.

The current ordinance only prevents peddlers from selling food, but the town Parks and Recreation committee has recommended it be changed so that all vendors are prohibited from selling their wares at the town beaches.

The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12, at 3 p.m. at town hall.

Selectmen also agreed to appoint Ian Bardwell as assistant harbormaster, and met with harbormaster Dennis Jason to review plans to replace the floats and docks at Hariph’s Creek and also make repairs to the town pier in Menemsha Harbor.

Mr. Fenner read a list of needed repairs that included the filling of holes and the removal of lobster pots in the parking lot, the removal of debris in Menemsha Harbor left over from construction of the new town dock, and the replacement of loose decking and planks to the town piers.

Other work included the replacement of lights, the reattachment of end-floats, clean-up around the harbor shack, the repair of leaking water splices, the installation of new ladders at the town bulkhead, the reattachment of floats at the charter dock, and the repair of access steps.

Mr. Jason said most of the repairs are already completed or will be soon.

“We’ll add the rest to our already busy schedule,” he said.

Mr. Fenner said time was of the essence and the work list dated to June 9 and should have been completed. “The season has started,” he said.

Selectman Warren Doty urged the work to be done by next Tuesday, when a celebration will take place to commemorate the rebuilding of the town pier that was destroyed by a fire last July that also completely destroyed the U.S. Coast Guard boathouse.

“We spent $1.5 million, so let’s get the last details right so it looks sharp,” Mr. Doty said.