Martha’s Vineyard salt pond will be closed to shellfishing again

Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall notified selectmen that state officials intend to close Sengekontacket Pond to shellfishing during the summer months. The popular pond is shared by Edgartown and Oak Bluffs and is connected to Nantucket Sound by two narrow channels.

This makes 2011 the fifth consecutive summer that sub-standard water quality has forced closures.

In a letter to the board, Mr. Bagnall said the state Division of Marine Fisheries needs to collect more water quality data before deciding whether to lift the “conditionally approved area” designation.

Last spring, state officials notified local shellfish constables the pond would be reopened for the summer of 2010, but then reversed their verbal approval.

State officials are expected to close the popular salt pond to shellfishing beginning June 1.

Mr. Bagnall said he feels the winter dredging project improved circulation in the area around big bridge, and strongly urged state officials to open that area to shellfishing this summer. He said the state denied that request.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, delayed a day because of the Patriot’s Day state holiday, highway director Stuart Fuller told selectmen he is on schedule to begin paving five downtown streets, beginning the first week of May.

The streets scheduled for work are Church Street, Winter Street, Morse Street, Simpson’s Lane, and a section of North Summer Street.

“It’s about a $95,000 project,” Mr. Fuller said. “We’re requesting $65,000 in state funds, we’ll be using about $30,000 from our account.”

Town administrator Pam Dolby raised the possibility of a new policy to charge contractors an additional fee when a construction project involves cutting into a town street, as it has on several of the streets scheduled for repaving.

“They’re the ones building the house, they’re the ones tearing up the roads, why should the other taxpayers foot the bill?” Ms. Dolby asked. “It’s worth considering.”

In other action, selectmen agreed to send a letter to state library commissioners certifying the unanimous town meeting vote on April 12 to accept any state grants awarded to build a new library at the site of the old Edgartown School, the first step in voter approval of the project.

The letter also said renewed community interest underscores the role of the Edgartown library board of trustees.

“At our recent town election, voters elected three new trustees, all with deep community ties, who have the vision, energy, and enthusiasm to move Edgartown’s library into the future,” selectmen wrote.

Selectmen also rejected a request from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to take part in a study considering tighter regulation of large private homes.

“We’re not interested,” selectman and former MVC chairman Michael Donaroma said. “It’s a residential issue. The town has its own regulations and restrictions. We certainly don’t need to spend a whole lot of money on something the town can do itself.”

Also Tuesday, local businessman John Reveruzzi withdrew his application for an alcohol license. Mr. Reveruzzi, the owner of the North Water Street restaurant and bar David Ryan’s, is in bankruptcy proceedings, and was seeking a new alcohol license as part of a plan to reorganize his business, according to town administrator Pam Dolby.

Ms. Dolby said, however, the current liquor license is still valid, and under the control of the bankruptcy court. She said the town cannot issue a second license for the same premises.

The first order of business Tuesday was to elect a new chairman. Mr. Donaroma nominated Art Smadbeck, after thanking Margaret Serpa for her year with the gavel. Mr. Smadbeck was elected without dissent.