Simpson Lane property eyed for ferry staging
The Edgartown selectmen are considering an offer from local developers to purchase part of the Shiretown Inn property off Simpson Lane that would provide a staging area for vehicles waiting for the ferry to Chappaquiddick Island during the summer, as well as an additional public parking lot.
Margaret Serpa, the chairman of the selectmen, said the asking price is $3 million for three lots behind the main inn buildings that total 15,000 square feet. Two houses, a garage and other outbuildings currently on the property could be removed before the sale, she said.
"We want to explore public opinion" on the proposal, Ms. Serpa said before a hearing on Monday. The hearing prompted questions and one positive comment from the public.
"Of all the options, this one looks like a gift," Chappaquiddick resident William Geresey said. "It looks like a better alternative." One resident said the lot could be used by employees who work in downtown Edgartown.
The entire inn property from North Water to North Summer streets along Simpson Lane was sold on March 31, 2006, to Kevin P. Kerr, trustee for Seaport Development LLC of Boston for $6,250,000, according to town assessor records. Gerret C. Conover, along with his partner, Tom LeClair, now have the entire Shiretown property under contract to purchase, Mr. Conover confirmed Wednesday. He and Mr. LeClair have put together a group of local people who are interested in cleaning up the property, which he said has been in disarray for many years. The current owner's plans for the property did not work out, he said.
Mr. Conover said if the town is interested, his group would turn over the rear portion of the property for the face value of $3 million, which he paid for it. The plan would help clean up the neighborhood and relieve the summer congestion on the street, he said, as well as provide up to 20 full-time parking spaces.
"We'd like to turn the whole thing into a win-win situation," Mr. Conover said. "We feel it's a really good story. Everybody thinks it's a good opportunity."
Mr. Conover said his partners are going ahead with their plans to clean up the property, whether or not the town buys it. Details about what to do with the buildings still have to be worked out, he said.
Highway superintendent Stuart Fuller said the lot could accommodate five lines of eight cars for the ferry staging.
The selectmen explained that the area would be used for the Chappaquiddick ferry during the day until 2 pm during July and August and then would be open to the general public. "I think there is a need for downtown parking at night," Ms. Serpa said.
The selectmen will hold a second hearing on the proposal during their regular meeting May 7 at 4 pm in the town hall meeting room. If they decide to move forward, the purchase would need the voter approval at a town meeting, perhaps in June, the selectmen said.
In addition to the main inn of two attached buildings facing North Water Street and the other existing buildings, the property had 17 small units and the former La Trattoria Restaurant, which were torn down in the past year.
In other business Monday, 10th Street resident Michael L. Jackson described flooding on his property that has occurred since the town began grading and rebuilding the street. He said his house had to be pumped twice by the town and was ready to be pumped again, and he had to repair damage to his bathroom at his own expense.
Mr. Jackson's septic system also has failed and he said he was not sure where he could move it. He said he had not had water on his property previously.
He asked the selectmen to have someone look at the problem. The selectmen agreed that a town engineer should look at the property to determine the cause of the flooding.
"If the town caused the failure, it's the town's responsibility," selectman Arthur Smadbeck said.
The road is being raised six to eight inches and is to be drained toward the center, rather than the sides of the roadway to alleviate the flooding.
Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall also reported to the selectmen that several aquaculturists whose lots were farther east on Katama Bay were affected by the breach at Norton Point after last week's storm. The bags used for growing the shellfish had to be sorted out, Mr. Bagnall said, and the aquaculturists will be allowed to move them closer to the others on the western side of the bay.
Mr. Bagnall said the new configuration would not take any more space. He will mark the aquaculture sites for boaters and make a new map.