Chilmark beach permits will be more expensive
The Chilmark selectmen Tuesday night approved a compromise on beach sticker rates for Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket beaches.
Beach committee chairman Leslie Weiss had recommended an increase of the rates this year from $75 to $100 at Lucy Vincent Beach and from $35 to $45 at Squibnocket Beach. After much discussion with beach committee representatives, the selectmen approved an $85 rate for Lucy Vincent Beach and $50 for Squibnocket.
In a letter, Ms. Weiss said the reason for the increases was to allow the town to hire an extra lifeguard and a parking attendant to cover extended hours at Squibnocket.
Ian Fein, beach committee member and Vineyard Gazette reporter, said at Tuesday's meeting that the committee did not necessarily agree with the proposed rate hike. "It is more justifiable to increase Squibnocket's rate because of the popularity of that beach," he said. "Fifty dollars is reasonable since Squibnocket is driving the increase."
Selectman Warren Doty called the proposed $31,000 increase in the beach budget significant, noting that salaries were up 11.5 percent, with lifeguards costing almost $20,000. Mr. Doty said that hiring a parking attendant would help improve the parking congestion at Squibnocket Beach. He acknowledged that Squibnocket is a very popular family beach. "It's the place to go," he said.
Martina Mastromonaco, beach superintendent, said the cost of living increases for salaries were driving some of the budget increase. The extra lifeguard also would add $8,600 to the budget.
The town sold about 1,100 stickers for Squibnocket Beach last year and about 1,500 for Lucy Vincent Beach. Based on those figures and the amount that various rate increases would generate, Mr. Fein suggested the $15 increase for Squibnocket and $10 increase for Lucy Vincent. Together those increases would cover the beach budget increase, he said.
The selectmen approved those rates for the coming fiscal year. Ms. Mastromonaco said she would be mailing pre-registration stickers to residents soon.
In other business, Mr. Doty gave an update on the shellfish restoration committee. The committee has three current recommendations: to establish a permanent shellfish steering committee of five people; to establish a propagation agent to run the shellfish growing program; and to buy a new piece of equipment for the program, called a floating upweller or "flupsy."
The upweller, like one that Oak Bluffs is currently using to grow soft shell clams, would allow Chilmark to develop a shellfish program, Mr. Doty said. The system could be used for growing oysters and perhaps clams, as well. "The town shellfish program hasn't grown oysters here before," he said. The cost of an upweller is $10,000.
The propagation agent would be a full-time employee who would monitor the upweller. The committee recommended placing the equipment in Hariph's Creek or the Menemsha Harbor channel, Mr. Doty said.
Mr. Doty also expressed some frustration with the progress at the Middle Line Road affordable housing project. He said he was surprised that four percolation tests were necessary to determine the septic system design. He said he hopes that a design will be ready in two weeks.
Work is also being done on defining the lot lines. Once that work is done, the project implementation committee will bring a plan before the town's planning board, Mr. Doty said. He added that he was not sure when the public hearings will be held on the project. "It will happen before Easter," he said.
The selectmen also approved an amendment to the personnel bylaws that would require an annual reappointment by the selectmen, which would include an annual evaluation. The recommendation of the personnel board will be sent to the finance committee.
The board also approved a recommendation to extend the fire chief's hours to 22 per week, which will allow him to qualify for health insurance.
The board approved a recommendation by harbormaster Dennis Jason to eliminate boat slip No. 5 on the charter dock because of problems maneuvering boats in that area. Mr. Jason will assign Charles Finnerty, whose boat has been in that slip, to another slip on the dock.