Lt. Bettencourt made acting chief in Edgartown

Edgartown selectmen, at their regular meeting Monday, promoted police lieutenant Tony Bettencourt to acting chief and set a date for his permanent appointment as chief. The promotion is effective immediately.

Chief Bettencourt succeeds Paul Condlin, who served with the Edgartown police department for 33 years, the last 15 as chief. Selectmen voted to approve the retirement of Mr. Condlin.

In an agreement between Mr. Condlin and the town, selectmen placed him on paid administrative leave until August 7. The two month leave is intended to compensate for his accrued vacation time and sick time, according to town administrator Pam Dolby.

“I think this town is very fortunate to have such dedicated and competent people working for us that we have this kind of transition,” selectman Art Smadbeck said.

Chief Bettencourt will officially assume the title of chief on August 8.

The 2-0 vote on the motions illustrated the conflicts inherent in a close knit Island community. Chairman Margaret Serpa recused herself from the votes and left the meeting before the discussion, because Mr. Bettencourt is her nephew. Mr. Smadbeck filed a document with the town clerk, disclosing that he rents business space from Mr. Bettencourt’s mother. Mr. Smadbeck did not recuse himself, because two selectmen are needed for a quorum to conduct any official business.

Also at Monday’s meeting, selectmen expressed support for a proposal from the Atlantic restaurant and the Boathouse Club to begin a valet parking service for patrons.

Attorney Sean Murphy represented the restaurant and private club. “What we propose is give them a chance to work it out this summer,” Mr. Murphy said. “If it does work, it could be a great thing for the town, get some of the parking congestion out of town.”

The cars would be parked at a commercial lot on South Summer Street while patrons are at the restaurant or the club.

Chief Bettencourt said he supported the proposal, if the loading zone in front of the building at the foot of Main Street is extended. “That loading zone gets clustered,” Chief Bettencourt said. “I think if we extend the loading zone, I think it’s a good thing. The only concern I had was the return. I don’t want to see two, three, four cars sitting there waiting for people inside finishing their meals.”

Mr. Murphy said if the concept proves workable, it might be extended to other downtown businesses.

“I think it presents a lot of possibilities,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

The valet parking proposal did not need the approval of selectmen, but they did vote 3-0 to extend the loading zone.

Selectman also approved a plan from Chappaquiddick ferry owner Peter Wells, to place some strategic signs around town. “It will just say ‘ferry’, it won’t say ‘Chappy ferry,’ because people steal those,” Mr. Wells said.

In part, an errant quirk of technology prompted the request for new signs. “We’ve found that people trying to get to the Chappy ferry end up on Dock Street,” Mr. Wells said. “That’s where their GPS sends them.” The new signs may help prevent Mr. Wells from explaining the two-block route back through congested downtown streets to get into the ferry line. Mr. Wells said he began noticing the phenomenon last summer and discovered the electronic direction gizmos were steering people the wrong way.