Chilmark selectmen will withdraw Tea Lane farmhouse article


Chilmark selectmen agreed to withdraw an article from Monday’s annual town meeting warrant that would have asked for $150,000 in community preservation act funds (CPA) to renovate the historic Tea Lane farmhouse, on the corner of Middle Road and Tea Lane.

During a meeting between the community preservation committee (CPC) and selectmen Wednesday, town officials agreed to ask voters to postpone the article indefinitely. Selectman Frank Fenner is expected to make the motion on the floor of town meeting.

Plans to renovate the Tea Lane farmhouse are still advancing, but CPC members and selectmen agreed to take the funding article for $150,000 off the table and wait until an article that covers the entire cost of the project is ready for voters.

This week, the Tea Lane farmhouse committee, appointed by selectmen last year, submitted plans to renovate the farmhouse, at an estimated cost of $500,000. The plans call for the first floor to be expanded slightly to expand the first-floor bedroom and a mudroom off the kitchen.

The plans also call for large dormer to be added to create two new bedrooms and a bathroom, as well as a new heating system, wiring and insulation.

On Wednesday, CPC members suggested selectmen postpone the article because it asked for only a portion of the funding needed for the project. Since voters will have to approve another article asking for more money, CPC members suggested the article might confuse the issue.

“It was the feeling of this committee that the better part of valor might be to take it off the agenda altogether,” said CPC member Andrew Goldman, acting as chairman in the absence of Jane Weidner, who could not attend the meeting.

“I think a lot of people who support this might prefer to do this whole at once, instead of piecemeal. I don’t think much is gained by doing this. If anything it might go backward,” he added.

Mr. Goldman explained the $150,000 wasn’t going anywhere. He said the CPC was not going to spend the money and would put the funding back on the warrant of a future town meeting.

Mr. Fenner, who also serves of the Tea Lane farmhouse committee, asked if the CPC would be willing to take a vote to reaffirm their commitment to give the money to the project. “There seems to be a lot of hands out for this money. If we don’t do this now, will the committee at least earmark the $150,000 until next fall?” he said.

Mr. Goldman assured Mr. Fenner he had little worry about it.

“You don’t have to worry about the committee putting this forward. We see our role here greatly as traffic cops, and it is our job to these decisions to the people who matter, the voters . . . I don’t think it will be a problem,” Mr. Goldman said.

The CPC committee did take a vote confirming their intention to allocate the money for the Tea Lane farmhouse project in the future.