Boaters boost donations for Edgartown fire and rescue vessel

Generous benefactors have donated $116,674 to outfit a rescue and response boat for Edgartown. — File photo by Steve Myrick

The Edgartown police and fire departments asked selectmen Monday to accept a gift of $116,764 from local benefactors to equip a new rescue and response boat. Under the town’s bylaws, selectmen must vote to accept any gifts to comply with state procurement laws.

“Both departments sincerely appreciate the consideration of this request and have been overwhelmed with the support that this program has received from both the selectmen and the town’s people,” wrote police chief Tony Bettencourt and fire chief Peter Shemeth in a letter to the board.

The town secured the boat, partially equipped, at no cost from the federal government, which disposed of the boat as surplus property. It is a 25-foot vessel with an aluminum hull and a rigid foam flotation collar, built for speed, strength, and safety. The cabin is a water-tight fortress. The boat is capable of speeds of 50 knots or better. The crew will be able to respond to an emergency in any town waters within minutes, if necessary.

Most of the donated funds came from Ernie Boch Jr., an Edgartown summer resident who donated $70,000 to help outfit the boat with motors and electronics. Mr. Boch is president and CEO of Boch Enterprises, which operates automobile dealerships.

When Tony Chianese, former owner of Edgartown Marine, read about Mr. Boch’s donation in the Martha’s Vineyard Times, he reached out to his friends and they responded generously.

“They’re all Edgartown seasonal residents, and they’re all avid boaters,” Mr. Chianese said. “Most want anonymity. This is a win-win for Edgartown Harbor. It makes Edgartown Harbor better and safer. Our firemen and police are going to be the best trained, on one of the best boats, for very little money to the taxpayers.”

Chief Bettencourt said the donations will allow the town to equip the boat with state-of-the-art equipment, including night search capabilities, and cover ongoing maintenance and fuel costs.

Box shock

Also Monday, selectmen began a discussion about moving a large electrical equipment box from the library lawn to a more shielded location. The box was installed when residents of North Water Street funded a $3 million project to relocate utility lines underground, and remove utility poles from the picturesque street.”We got left with this awful looking box in front of the library,” town administrator Pam Dolby said. “We’re trying to figure out how to move it because it’s so ugly. It’s going to cost around $50,000 to move it. It’s one of our more important streets. It will be up to the townspeople whether they want to spend the money to move it.”

She said that NSTAR is researching the cost and feasibility of moving the equipment.

Ms. Dolby said preliminary plans include moving it farther away from the street, so it can be shielded with shrubs or a fence. She said the box cannot be buried underground.

Selectmen authorized her to move forward with preliminary planning.