The clock is ticking for bidders interested in buying the Captain Warren House on North Water Street in Edgartown. Town administrator Pam Dolby told selectmen Monday that the town has distributed 37 copies of its request for proposals (RFP).
The deadline to submit bids is 3 pm, Friday, September 13. The town has set a reserve of $2.35 million on any sale.
“We’ve shown it umpteen times, and many people have looked at it more than once,” Ms. Dolby told selectmen. “I feel pretty confident that the Warren House will go for the minimum bid.”
The town bought the historic structure for $3.5 million in 2004, as part of a plan to expand the Edgartown Library, which abuts the Warren House property. As of Wednesday morning, the town had received only one bid, town administrator Kristy Rose said.
Ms. Dolby said the bids are stamped and dated as they come in. In the event that there are two competing and qualifying bids for the same amount, the nod will go to the earliest bid.
An aging population
In other business, Dukes County Health Council (DCHC) member Patricia “Paddy” Moore told selectmen Monday that the increase elderly population in the U.S. may prove to be troublesome on the Island in the near future.
“We think it’s going to put an enormous pressure on all of our towns,” Ms. Moore told selectmen. “The Vineyard is a very attractive place for people to age and it’s a place where people want to come retire.”
Ms. Moore listed the sorts of challenges the Vineyard community will face should an increase in the elderly population continue to go unheeded. They include transportation issues, affordable housing, and the need for an expansion in healthcare and social services.
Ms. Moore told selectmen that the DCHC is forming an advisory board and will meet on November 8 to discuss the results of their research.
Dock Street grant
David Thompson, facilities manager for the Edgartown Wastewater Department, told the selectmen that work plans are in place to protect the Dock Street pumping station from water damage in the event of a storm. The underground installation serves the entire downtown area. The pump station sits across for the Dock Street coffee shop, 16 feet underground.
“It’s highly susceptible to damage during a major hurricane, to say the least,” Mr. Thompson said.
A $393,570 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant will pay 75 percent of the cost of improvements.
Mr. Thompson explained that it would be prudent to get rid of the pumps that are currently at the Dock Street station. “The more pressing concern,” he added, “is the actual control system. When everything subsides and we turn it back on, hopefully it will run, that’s the goal. The concept is simple, but the engineering is a little tricky. It’s going to require some imagination. I would love to get it done before the next hurricane season, but it’s not going to happen.”
Madeline Fisher, Edgartown’s elected representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), asked selectmen Monday if they had received any response from NSTAR about the cost to put power cables underground.
“The commission requested costs, as you did, and I’m wondering if you’ve heard back from them?” Ms. Fisher asked selectmen.
Town administrator Pam Dolby told Ms. Fisher and selectmen that NSTAR has responded. “We heard from them just a few moments ago, right before we came into the meeting,” she said.
In later comments, Ms. Dolby said NSTAR had asked selectmen for four hard copies of the town site plan.
Representatives of NSTAR appeared before Edgartown selectmen on July 8, to explain why the utility is installing new, taller, and heavier replacement utility poles along the town’s two main roads. During the July meeting, selectman Art Smadbeck asked NSTAR about burying the wires underground as an alternative solution. NSTAR representative Jerry McDermott estimated the cost per mile at between $1 and $1.5 million.
“I think the important part of this communication is that it’s possible to do,” Mr. Smadbeck said Monday about burying wires. “Knowing that we have the possibility to do this, we might want to to look at some type of Island-wide initiative to take the temperature of the public, before we would go and spend a lot of money.”
One member of the public, Edgartown artist Margot Datz, was quick to put her two cents in. “I’m confused,” she said. “So, what we’re saying is, for burying these wires we have to have them all put up, and then they all have to be taken down and buried?”
“NSTAR is going to do what they’ve always done, whatever they want,” selectmen Michael Donaroma said. “I think the first big step is to make some noise. They’re doing a good job, we all have electricity, we’re all warm. But there are other ways to do it.”
Oysters and parking
In other business, selectmen learned of the state Department of Public Health order closing oyster farms in Katama Bay for the next four weeks, due to bacterial contamination that has caused at least three confirmed cases of illness.
The bacteria is Vibrio parahaemolyticus, known by scientists by its initials Vp. It is a naturally occurring bacteria that thrives when water temperatures get warmer than 81 degrees, but can live and reproduce in temperatures as low as 60 degrees, either in the ocean, or in the shells of harvested oysters.
Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said he expects oyster production from 12 active farms in the bay to be curtailed for at least four weeks.
Selectmen also accepted a $100,888 bid from Bailey Boyd Associates of Harwich to administer a childcare subsidy Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“They’ve been the only company to place a bid, they’ve been doing it now for five or six years, so we’re very comfortable having them continue to do it,” Ms. Dolby said.
Selectmen also approved two additional handicap parking spots, one on Cooke St., one on South Summer Street.