Chilmark selectmen review town’s Community Development Strategy


Chilmark selectmen reviewed the town’s fiscal 2013 Community Development Strategy in a meeting Tuesday with Christine Flynn, economic development and affordable housing coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

In a memo to selectmen, Ms. Flynn explained that Island towns would be awarded about $2 million under the Department of Housing and Community Development’s fiscal 2012 Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The funds are channeled through the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the lead communities in the CDBG program, to other Vineyard towns, she said.

As part of the CDBG application, each participating town must submit a six-page Community Development Strategy (CDS), outlining its community development goals and objectives, Ms. Flynn said. She presented selectmen with the six-page CDS that among things outlines the town’s open space and recreational plan, which identifies 146 acres of open space.

“The town’s major focus moving forward will be the establishment and protection of buffer zones between developed areas and open space, including public access to waterways and roadside green belts,” she said. “Water quality is a key issue.”

On the topic of water quality, the plan notes that town goals include developing a management plan to address invasive species in Squibnocket Pond and evaluating impacts of private septic systems within the Chilmark Pond watershed.

The CDS also outlines the town’s strategy to address affordable housing, noting the town’s Middle Line Road project and the recent creation of the Chilmark Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The CDS also explains the town’s strategy for economic development and public transportation.

The two selectmen present, Warren Doty and Jonathan Mayhew (Bill Rossi did not attend), said they were pleased overall with the CDS, and Ms. Flynn noted it was a living document that could be changed in the future.

“It’s not a planning document that can’t be updated at any time,” she said. “It doesn’t restrict the town to have to do these projects. But it is really important for the town to demonstrate to the state some of the initiatives it’s been working on.”

In other business, selectmen next met with members of MVTV’s board of directors, who outlined plans for their new television studio about a quarter-mile down the road from their current studio at the regional high school.

Geoffrey Parkhurst, Chilmark representative to the board, said the plan all along was to move to a larger studio, but that timetable was bumped up when the high school said their current space would not be available after 2013.

Mr. Parkhurst said the new studio would be about 4,000 square feet and cost around $800,000. He said earlier plans called for a larger facility, closer to 7,000 square feet, but those plans were scaled back because of financial limitations.

He said the current facility is only about 1,350 square feet and space is at a premium. There is not enough studio space to meet demand, and, among other things, the building does not have a bathroom.

Mr. Parkhurst said the foundation for the new studio has been dug and the slab will be poured Friday. “It is moving very fast, and we are scheduled to be open in a survivable amount of time, so we don’t have to be out in the street,” he said.

Mr. Doty asked about the financials of the project, such as whether there is a contingency fund or if MVTV’s annual operating costs would increase because of the new, larger building.

Mr. Parkhurst said the board paid for the land with capital they already had, and there is a $100,000 rainy day fund in case things cost more than they anticipated. Mr. Pankhurst said the nonprofit’s annual budget is around $400,000, and the annual income is around $500,000. “We’ve been saving up for a while… this horizon we have seen for a long time, we knew we would have to move,” he said.

Board member Richard Knabel, also a West Tisbury selectman, said the new studio would be simple and cost-efficient. “This building will not be luxurious… it will be much more utilitarian,” he said.

Selectmen also discussed a petition circulating in town calling for a ban on amplified music in Menemsha. The petition reads in part: “the unique geography of Menemsha causes the music from the Beach Plum Inn and other outdoor venues to be so loud in is unbearable on most occasions to those of us who live and work here.”

A total of 13 town residents, all of whom live on Basin Road, Larsen Lane, Flanders Lane, and Creek Hill Road, signed the petition. None of the petitioners attended the meeting Tuesday.

Beach Plum Inn general manager Dennis Barquinero said he first learned of the petition this week and suggested a meeting, to be attended by representatives of the Beach Plum Inn, the petitioners, selectmen, and the police chief.

Mr. Barquinero noted the Beach Plum does not schedule events with live music during July and August, when the most people are in Menemsha, and every effort is made to turn off the music at a reasonable hour.

“We have been conscientious of the ordinance in town that says [music goes to] 10 pm only,” he said. “And for most of our events — if not all of our events — we shut down all the music by 9:30 or 9:45 pm, at the latest. We try to be good neighbors.”

Selectmen said they would look further into the matter to see if it was a town-wide issue or an isolated incident that could be handled by talking to the parties involved. They agreed to revisit the matter at a future meeting.