Town Column : Aquinnah
We had a quorum. Then we had a weekend of lovely, spring-like weather, and then we got to move the clocks forward so we get more daylight. What a good week it's been.
Fifty-five people showed up at the special town meeting last Tuesday - not bad for a frigid, icy night. The mood in the Old Town Hall - the temporary library - was very cheerful. People seemed happy to be together after the isolation of the snowstorm. We got down to business a little bit past 7 pm and moved swiftly until Article 10 at around 8 pm.
Article 10 was about the proposal to lease a portion of the circle to build a stage for concerts and other artistic performances to Ted Cammann and Jim Glavin, the men who brought us the Aquinnah Music Festival last summer. The stage would be standing through the summer months and then be taken down once the season was over. The debate, for the most part, was civil, and people asked a lot of great, thoughtful questions. Would this endeavor bring the town any additional income? Hard to say at this point. Would the stage be nice looking? Where exactly would it be? What would the term of the lease be? Up to 10 years. Do we really want more people coming into Aquinnah in the summer? Depends who you're talking to. Where would people park? The events would happen at night so they would not interfere with beach traffic and might bring some extra revenue to the beach parking lot. Would the promoters work with the vendors already at the cliffs, so that it would bring more business to them? One of the vendors expressed disappointment that during the Aquinnah Music Festival, no outreach had been extended to the vendors.
Someone spoke very passionately about the sacredness of the circle and danger of marring its beauty. Jeffrey Madison pointed out that there had been many things built and taken down over the years at the circle, including outhouses.
I think it's important to note that the proposed stage would not interfere with the views from the cliffs. We are talking about a structure within the circle that is encompassed by the road up to and around the cliffs. Having said that I must admit even after looking at the proposal and hearing all the debate I'm a little vague as to where exactly it will be, somewhere on the lighthouse side, I think.
Some people seemed very gung-ho and others very wary. June Manning would love to see Kenny Chesney perform at the circle, but there was a lot of concern that we were signing away a valuable piece of land to two men indefinitely. By the end of the debate a couple of things seemed clear. One: If this plan is to work, the supporters of the proposal really need to work with the community so that we all benefit from it. Two: This is an experiment and the only way to see if it will work is to try. The article passed and the meeting ended at about 9:20 pm. There will be a Special Town Meeting to approve or not approve the lease on Tuesday, May 12, at 6:45 pm. I can't wait.
I loved the spring weather this weekend; it was just what we needed. I was ready to take all my winter clothes and burn them in the backyard because I'm so tired of wearing them, so it was nice to be able to put them aside.
Don't forget the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival, starting tomorrow night at the Chilmark Community Center. The full schedule is available at tmvff.org. See you at the movies and, well, probably at the library at some point too.