Edgartown votes extra rental subsidy for affordable housing

— File photo by Ralph Stewart

Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to authorize an additional $3,000 to subsidize rents at the Morgan Woods affordable housing development in the current fiscal year. The money will come from the town’s Affordable Housing Trust, in addition to the Community Preservation Act funds approved by town meeting last April, to help residents pay their rents for the final few months of the fiscal year.

“What the rental assistance program frequently does is take a market rate apartment, and makes it affordable,” Alan Gowell, chairman of the community preservation committee, told selectmen.

Over the past two years, Morgan Woods management has not been able to fill some units, because the price of open market rentals has fallen well below the contractually set price of market rate apartments in the development.

“We wish we had priced all the units as affordable,” Mr. Gowell said. “The market has changed.”

The affordable housing committee and the trustees approved the additional subsidy earlier, but they needed selectmen’s approval to release the funds.

Selectman Margaret Serpa raised questions about the additional subsidy.

“I am leery of setting a precedent, but I’ve heard the need,” Ms. Serpa said. “The money is not going to be around forever. I think we have to be really prudent. If you keep hacking away at that money, it’s going to be gone.”

Also Monday, selectmen agreed to begin improvements to the Chappaquiddick Point lot where people wait for the ferry. The improvements requested by the newly formed Chappaquiddick Island Association transportation committee included grading of the dirt parking lot, moving handicapped spaces closer to the ferry landing, moving some parking spaces, and moving the ferry line back 40 feet. The last two improvements should allow more room for vehicles dropping off passengers to turn around and exit the area.

Selectmen also agreed to support the transportation committee’s request to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank to create a new pathway to the beach that will encourage beach-goers to stay clear of the heavier traffic areas.

The board set a hearing for April 9 to consider revoking a liquor license for Il Tesoro, a South Summer Street restaurant. Last week, selectmen set a Saturday, March 31, deadline for the restaurant to open as required by the license.

“They haven’t responded to anything, they were not open Saturday,” town administrator Pam Dolby said.