Edgartown Public Library to ask voters for $4 million
Having fallen short in their fundraising efforts, the Edgartown Public Library board of trustees will turn to town taxpayers to help save a $4.6-million matching grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and keep a library expansion project on track.
Library officials asked selectmen on Monday to place an article on the annual town meeting warrant that would provide up to $4 million in order to meet the requirements of the state grant.
Private fund raising has fallen far short of its goal, according to library officials. The expansion project recently received a second extension of time to try to match the grant.
"If we don't ask the town to vote for this money, we let this grant die," Pat Rose, chairman of the library board of trustees, said. "There is so much at stake."
According to Janet Aldeborgh, treasure of the library foundation, fundraising efforts have yielded $748,491 to date. The foundation has $645,794 in pledges promised, some stretching over the next five years. The library needs to raise $4.6 million to match the state grant. The entire amount must be raised by June 15, the date of the latest time extension, or the entire grant is forfeited.
The expansion project involves a 17,000-square-foot addition to connect the old Carnegie library building on North Water Street to the neighboring Captain Warren house.
In 2004 voters agreed to support the expansion project and spend $3.5 million to purchase the Captain Warren house.
The transition from a private to a publically funded project raised legal questions. Town administrator Pam Dolby said she would check with the town auditor and town counsel over the next few days on issues, including whether town bidding laws were met, whether public meetings and public hearings have been held, and the way the grant money is distributed.
"I think the principle of letting the town decide, I support that," selectman Art Smadbeck said. "You need to very carefully listen to what the town administrator is talking about. I have a feeling this is going to be a much more complicated article before this is all said and done. We have to find out exactly how to thread this needle."
Chappy bike path
Also at Monday's meeting, Chappaquiddick residents clashed once again over the prospect of a bicycle path on Chappy. Dick Knight, representing a group that favors a path from the ferry landing to Dike Bridge, told selectmen a group of graduate students from Northeastern University has offered to travel to the Island and create several designs for a bike path.
"They would give us three or four alternatives in March, then go back and work on one of those designs," Mr. Knight said. "There would be no cost to the town, there would be no obligation to the town. Once we have something specific in front of us, then we can talk about what exactly it's going to look like. I know we're not going to make everybody happy."
A group that opposes a bike path on Chappaquiddick spoke against the student project. "I'm concerned what the design parameters might be," Geoff Kontje said. "Before we even get to the need, we need to step back and establish need." The bitterness and division the issue has caused among Chappy neighbors was evident in the packed selectmen's meeting room. Selectmen reminded the group that they were instructed last fall to come to some compromise before bringing the issue to town boards or a town meeting. But there appeared little room for compromise, as the opposition group again aired grievances over design, which group will not cooperate with which other group, and the accuracy of informal polls of Chappaquiddick residents.
"You come back here and have another showdown in front of the selectmen," Mr. Smadbeck said. "I don't see any advantage to trying to move forward on a project as large as a bike path on Chappaquiddick, unless we have everybody on board." While Mr. Smadbeck opposed the design project, selectman Margaret Serpa and Chairman Michael Donaroma saw no harm in it. "If he can come up with a plan for free, I'm not going to bury my head in the sand," Mr. Donaroma said. "We might learn one thing from it. After that you can shred it."
Several Edgartown fishermen also attended the selectmen's meeting, to air complaints about a recent change in the commercial scallop limit. Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall, clearly frustrated with the infighting among local fishermen, said the limit was increased after a public meeting and fishermen had adequate chance to comment."
Acting on a phone poll of the five-member shellfish committee, Mr. Bagnall increased the limit from three level-struck 10-gallon baskets, to four level-struck 10-gallon baskets. He equated the action with designating shellfishing areas, an action selectmen have authorized him to make. Mr. Bagnall said weather and price were behind the decision as the most productive part of the scallop season is coming to a close. Selectman questioned the process and said they hold the authority to set limits.
As a result, the shellfish committee has scheduled a public meeting for 4 pm, Tuesday to discuss raising the commercial limit from four rounded baskets. Their recommendation will then be forwarded to the selectmen for action at a special meeting.