Edgartown selectmen license two new package stores

— File photo by Ralph Stewart

Edgartown selectmen approved two new seasonal package store licenses at their Monday meeting.The board granted Sarah Elizabeth Webber a license to open a seasonal package store at 29 Winter Street in the Nevin Square shopping and office complex.

“I think it will be a nice addition, a little diversity” selectman Art Smadbeck said. “I hope it would bring some (foot) traffic.”

Gary Look, manager of Al’s Package Store, questioned whether the town already has an adequate number of package stores.

“In theory, the town is willing to put out the gravy for the seasonals,” Mr. Look said.

Mr. Smadbeck and selectman Margaret Serpa voted to approve the license. Selectman Michael Donaroma was absent.

Selectmen also approved a license for Barbara Courtney, to open a seasonal package store at 65 Main Street, the building that houses the Edgartown Cinema.

Selectmen approved the license by a vote of 2-0.

The board also authorized the town accountant to consult with other towns and seek legal counsel to assess whether they can recover Community Preservation Act Funds from the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Fund, formerly named the Island Affordable Housing Fund.

According to West Tisbury town accountant Bruce Stone, four towns appropriated $139,000 for a second mortgage program for qualified homebuyers. Mr. Stone said the Housing Fund, which is no longer operating, applied most of that money to loans made prior to the appropriation, under the tenure of former executive director Pat Manning. Edgartown appropriated $64,000 for the program.

“My suggestion is to go along with West Tisbury and the four towns work together, and get legal counsel to see if we have a case,” town accountant Kimberly Kane said.

She noted that Housing Fund officials are cooperating fully in addressing the town’s concerns.

Complicating the issue is the foreclosure of the Bradley Square property in Oak Bluffs, which was owned by the Housing Fund, and intended for an affordable housing project. At the time of the foreclosure, the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank froze approximately $80,000 left in the Housing Fund’s accounts.

In other action, selectmen approved a request from Martha’s Vineyard tactical response team leader and Edgartown police officer James Craig to use the vacant Warren House for a training exercise on Wednesday, February 13.

Mr. Craig said the team’s current training venues are too well known by team members, and an unfamiliar building would provide valuable training. He said the tactical response team will post large caution signs, so people will not mistake the exercise for a real police operation.

On the recommendation of the town shellfish committee, selectmen voted to increase the daily bay scallop limit from three 10-gallon baskets to five 10-gallon baskets per day.

“We have just begun to put a dent in the scallops in Cape Poge,” shellfish warden Paul Bagnall said. “It really is an amazing thing when you have good news for bay scallops in February.”

In a phone conversation Tuesday, Mr. Bagnall said scallops were far more plentiful than he estimated at the beginning of the season. He estimated a harvest of 4,000 to 5,000 bushels by December 31, but local fisherman had caught 8,000 bushels by that date.

Selectmen voted to renew a contract with the Pied Piper ferry, which operates summer passenger service from Falmouth to Memorial Wharf. The company will pay Edgartown a fee of $12,000.

“They’ve given us excellent service, even in the economic climate we’ve been enduring on the waterfront the past four years,” harbor master Charlie Blair said.

Finally, selectmen voted to allow the highway department to overdraw the snow removal account, to pay for cleanup of the weekend snowstorm.