Edgartown weighs in on cruise ships and catboats

American Cruise Lines plans to anchor in Edgartown this summer. — Photo courtesy of American Cruse Lines

Edgartown selectmen at their meeting Tuesday endorsed a plan from the town shellfish committee to create a new oyster cultivation project in Sengekontacket Pond to benefit recreational shellfish permit holders.

Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall reported that a test cage of oysters placed in Major’s Cove this year provided reason for optimism. “Growth and survival rates were good,” Mr. Bagnall said. “We are optimistic that the larger project will be successful.”

The town intends to start with 250,000 “seed” oysters which will begin growth in an upweller, and continue growth in oyster cages, maturing in two or three years.

“At 80 percent survival rate, this will produce 500 bushels of oysters available to our family permit holders,” Mr. Bagnall said.

Budget for the project is estimated at $24,000. Town officials will meet this week to discuss funding the project through some combination of money in this year’s shellfish budget, and a new appropriation on the annual town meeting in April.

Cruise destination

Also Tuesday, harbor master Charlie Blair asked selectmen to consider a request from American Cruise Lines, to stop in Edgartown’s outer Harbor 20 times between the end of May and September. The company owns three ships, the largest with a capacity of 100 passengers. In past years, the cruise ships have docked in Vineyard Haven.

“They would come in Tuesday night at 8 pm and anchor,” Mr. Blair said. “They would like to spend Wednesday here, then depart at 2 am Thursday morning. It doesn’t put any strain on me because they have their own launches.”

Mr. Blair said the launches would stop briefly at the town’s finger piers at the foot of Dock Street for unloading and loading several times each day.

“It sounded like a good deal for May and June and September,” he said. “July and August might be a little tight, but I think we can do it.”

Selectmen Art Smadbeck and Margaret Serpa voted to endorse the idea. Chairman Michael Donaroma did not attend the meeting.

“I think it’s terrific,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “Great for Edgartown, great for Edgartown businesses.”

Mr. Blair also told selectmen that the New England Catboat Association plans a regatta June 7-9 in Edgartown Harbor. He said he expects up to 50 of the historic vessels to rendezvous in Edgartown for a weekend of racing and sailing festivities.

Other cats

In other action, animal control officer Barbara Prada told selectmen she is responding to more calls involving feral cats, and she cautioned that the town will have to absorb added costs.

“We are probably going to have to euthanize more feral cats,” she said. “It’s probably going to fall to the town.”

Shelters will not accept feral cats, she said, and because of the economy, several private groups that once trapped and spayed the animals are no longer operating.