Chilmark selectmen discuss Menemsha rents
The Chilmark selectmen - same members sitting in different seats Tuesday night - thought they were going to be dealing with the big issue of raising rents for Menemsha Harbor lots. Instead, they took care of more mundane matters such as diaper changing stations, toilet paper dispensers, fence posts and netting, choosing a copier for town hall, trash barrels, and seeding the landfill. They also got a lesson and lots of literature on mosquito control.
Warren Doty, newly elected chairman of the reconfigured board, told the press after the toilet paper discussion, "Perhaps that should be the headline this week."
Frank Fenner was named the board's new vice chairman. Former chairman Riggs Parker, who was re-elected to the board in last week's town election, moved out of the center seat.
The next item on the agenda was to be a joint meeting with the park and recreation commission to discuss the rent structure for town-owned commercial lots along Menemsha Harbor. However, the committee did not have a three-member quorum after commission member Tim Carroll, the selectmen's executive secretary, recused himself from the issue because his brother is one of the leaseholders.
The town has leased the lots at very little cost to individuals and businesses involved with commercial fishing. Nine lots range from $50 to $800 a year. It also leases seven smaller lots on the east side of the spit of land that divides Menemsha Basin from Menemsha Creek for $10 a year.
Since four leaseholders were present Tuesday night, Mr. Doty gave them an opportunity to ask questions. Betsy Larsen of Larsen's Fish Market asked if the selectmen had an idea of what possible rent increases would be.
Mr. Doty said the issue was discussed last year, but since no action was taken, the selectmen wanted to reconsider it. He said they had no figure in mind, and when he asked how long it had been since the rents were adjusted, no one knew except Stanley Larsen of Menemsha Fish Market, who said his rent was raised last year. The joint meeting was postponed to the next selectmen's meeting, May 15.
On the mosquito issue, T.J. Hegarty, Dukes County rodent control officer, said he was not there to talk about rats, which he called "a growth industry on Martha's Vineyard," but about mosquito control. He said the threat of Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus this year is real, and the state is taking it seriously.
Mr. Hegarty discussed a growth inhibitor product that prevents the nymph mosquitoes from growing into adults. The product, which comes in the form of pellets, briquets, or liquid, has been used in many eastern and southern states, and has been deemed safe to add to farm animal watering troughs, ponds, and even to drinking water, he said. The product stands in the water and dissolves.
Since it is a controlled product, the county can buy it, but has no money to pay for it, so Mr. Hegarty is going to all the Island town selectmen to see if they want to use it. It is expensive, at $24.09 per pound for the pellets.
Mr. Doty said he opposed aerial spraying, but he and the other selectmen took the information packet Mr. Hegarty gave them to study. He hopes to bring a representative from the company that sells the product to the Vineyard later this month.
He said Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a growing threat "and something we should all be cognizant of." EEE is a mosquito-borne viral disease. EEE virus occurs in the eastern half of the United States where it causes disease in humans, horses, and some bird species. Because of the high mortality rate, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
In shellfish business, the selectmen agreed to appoint a newly established shellfish advisory committee on May 15. Letters of interest are now being taken at town hall. They also agreed to have applications for the new shellfish propagation officer position be returned by May 29.
The advisory committee will screen the officer applicants and recommend finalists to the selectmen. The selectmen agreed to take over supervision of the new shellfish officer as well as the shellfish constable position.
They also gave shellfish constable Stanley Larsen permission to extend the oyster season for two weeks, since the water is still cold enough.
Mr. Carroll reported on cleanup and repair work at Squibnocket Beach as a result of the recent nor'easter. The Squibnocket Farm Association paid $4,000 to repair a retaining wall and the town highway crew did some additional cleanup. Mr. Carroll said the retaining wall work might be eligible for 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said he is still waiting for reports on whether more repairs will be needed for the Squibnocket parking lot.
Most of the selectmen's more mundane matters involved improvements to the comfort station and the dock area at Menemsha. They agreed to buy baby changing units for both the men's and women's restrooms after Mr. Doty related a personal experience having to change a grandchild in a men's restroom in New York that had no changing station.
The selectmen decided to leave some of the other decisions to the harbor advisory committee.