Chilmark selectmen wrestle with library parking shortage

— File photo by Tim Johnson

Chilmark selectmen Tuesday gave the green light to a Hollywood film crew to film in Menemsha this weekend, sank a proposal to purchase a new pump-out boat, and discussed ongoing parking problems at the town library.

Selectmen met with Ebba Hierta, the director of the town library, about the acute lack of parking at the library and by extension the Chilmark Community Center during the summer months.

“It is seriously infringing on our ability to serve our taxpayers. They are not able to get to the building during certain times of the week,” Ms. Hierta said.

A letter to selectmen signed by members of the library board of trustees expressed concerns about parking problems for library patrons during the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Wednesday film series and morning adult classes.

“We field complaints every week from residents and taxpayers who tell us they are frequently unable to get to the library on Wednesdays because every available parking space in town — at the library, Chilmark Community Center, post office, the school and the bank — is taken,” the letter said.

Selectman chairman Jonathan Mayhew suggested that either the Community Center change the day of the film festival or the library change its hours.

Ms. Hierta said the library trustees were reluctant to change the hours of operation. “We have been asked to change the library hours. We talked about it, and we don’t think it’s appropriate for [the film festival] to ask the library to change.”

Police Chief Brian Cioffi said he was working on the problem.”I have talked to all parties involved and hopefully we can work out a scheduling solution so everybody is happy,” he said.

Selectman Bill Rossi volunteered to talk to the various parties and hash out a workable solution.

“I think we can solve it if we all get together and talk about it. From my preliminary discussions with involved parties there seems to be a willingness to make this work,” he said.

Selectmen then met with Mark Fitzgerald, representing HBO films, who was seeking permission to film in Menemsha this Saturday for four of five hours in the morning.

The film will star Larry David, seasonal Chilmark resident and star of HBO hit ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and will be about “green cars and trying to get off fossil fuels,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

The filming will not involve a large crew, with no actors other than Mr. David, and all the equipment will be staged in the Home Port parking lot. Mr. Fitzgerald said he already met with business owners to give them a heads-up about the filming.

Selectmen approved the request, but not before reminiscing about the town’s previous brushes with Hollywood.

“[The Kevin Costner film] Message in a Bottle wanted to build a house on Vincent beach,” selectman Warren Doty recalled. “And they had to go North Carolina to do that.”

Selectmen then discussed a request from the board of health asking selectmen to consider buying a pump-out boat.

In a letter dated September 10, administrator Marina Lent states the board of health discussed available options to replace and upgrade the sewage pump-out facility at the town harbor.

“We welcome the opportunity to ensure the more consistent use of boat sewage holding tank pump-outs in the Chilmark harbor, rather than the continued direct dumping of fecal waste at sea, as this will clearly improve the quality of Chilmark coastal waters,” the letter said, adding:

“The board of health is interested in exploring the option of a pump-out vessel. Please advise as to whether the Board of Selectmen would be amenable to this option.”

In no uncertain terms, selectmen said they did not support purchasing a pump-out boat, and instead preferred to focus on improving a land-based or pier-based pump-out system.

“The one in Vineyard Haven services 150 boats,” Mr. Doty said. “We have only 16 transient slips, we are not at the scale to have a pump-out boat. We should have a good pump-out facility – a land-based facility.”

Mr. Mayhew agreed the town should focus efforts on improving the pier-based pump-out station already in place.

In other business, selectmen agreed to sign a letter drafted by the town of Tisbury to Gregory Bialecki, state secretary of Housing and Economic Development, in support of an application to the state to build a new connector road from State Road to Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

“This project will supply a vital alternative route to the use of the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road intersection, which is desperately needed to reduce traffic congestion…in reducing this traffic congestion, the entire Island benefits,” the letter said.

Finally selectmen met with John Ketcham, a seasonal resident of Aquinnah, who asked if the town would consider building a basic exercise center at the Chilmark Community Center.

Mr. Ketcham said it would alleviate the need for Chilmark and Aquinnah residents to travel large distances to down-Island workout centers. He said he drives nearly 40 miles round-trip to get to the YMCA in the summer.

Selectmen said they liked the idea, but wondered if the Chilmark Community Center was the best location. Selectmen half-jokingly suggested that a workout center be built off the back of the police station.

Chief Cioffi said that could actually work.

“I would 110 percent support that…. It would literally have to have a totally separate entrance to the police station,” the chief said. “I would welcome that…. There are grants out there.”

The police chief said he would work with Mr. Ketcham on developing the idea further.