Chappy summer folk share gripes
Edgartown selectmen and town department heads fielded a variety of familiar complaints at their annual session for summer residents. Chairman Michael Donaroma headed off the hottest topic, a simmering battle over a bicycle path on Chappaquiddick, right from the start.
"I know people are concerned," Mr. Donaroma said. "I'd rather not tie this meeting up with concerns and presentations about that bike path. That will be at other meetings."
He noted that selectmen aired the issue at their August 3 meeting, and have scheduled another session at their August 17 meeting. Nearly all of the approximately 40 people who packed into the selectmen's meeting room were from Chappaquiddick, and many are active in the bike path dispute. They snuck in a comment or two on the controversial matter, but for the most part, they stuck to other issues, including road conditions, abandoned boats, speed limits, and mobile phone service.
Speed limits caused the biggest buzz. One resident asked Police Chief Paul Condlin what he intended to do to improve enforcement of the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on Chappaquiddick.
Chief Condlin, much to the surprise of many in the room, said speed limits on Chappaquiddick, as in the rest of Edgartown, are not 25 miles per hour. State law governs speed limits, and on Chappy, state law dictates the limit is either 30 or 40 miles per hour, depending on the density of housing along the roadway, according to the chief. He said the 25-mile per hour signs on Chappy roads are an advisory only, and not enforceable. He said the town has no authority to set speed limits.
"It confuses everyone," Chief Condlin said. "But it's the right thing to do."
Resident Paul Majane asked about the status of an effort to bring better mobile telephone service to Chappy, a topic that was raised at the summer residents meeting last year. Town administrator Pam Dolby said the town meeting had appropriated $5,000 for a study, and that an appointed committee has completed some of its work, and is expected to meet with mobile telephone carriers next week.
"It took us a year to get to the point where we're appointing a committee?" asked Mr. Majane. Selectman Margaret Serpa took exception to the comment. She pointed out that appropriation of money needed the approval of town meeting voters, and the committee was working through the process of licensing a mobile telephone carrier carefully.
"I offered to pay for it," said Mr. Majane. "I offered land to put it on."
Mr. Donaroma pointed out that acceptance of any donation to fund the study would also have required approval by town meeting voters.
Other residents complained about an abandoned boat taking up parking spaces in the ferry parking lot. Harbormaster Charlie Blair promised to get the boat out of the parking lot quickly, but he said taking possession and disposing of an abandoned boat is a growing problem, which costs money. "We can't find the owner, the trailer doesn't have any plates," said Mr. Blair. "I have zero money in the budget for abandoned boats." He noted that in the previous year, the town spent $3,800 disposing of abandoned boats.
There was strong disagreement about the condition of Litchfield Road, and any improvements to it.
Some objected to any improvement in the road, concerned that it would induce drivers to drive faster.
Resident Tom Tilghman asked about an analysis of Chappy ferry rates, an issue raised at last year's meeting. Ms. Dolby said there have been some delays, but a consultant is ready to begin work on the analysis in September, and funds are set aside to pay for the work.