Chappy wireless effort hits a dead end

The On Time provides Chappy residents with a reliable link to the Island. Improved wireless service without a cell tower remains a challenge. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Edgartown selectmen told members of the Chappaquiddick wireless committee Monday that they’ve reached a dead end in their efforts to improve wireless service without a tower.

Asked for a progress report, committee member Fran Clay told selectmen that the committee remains steadfast in its determination to seek a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) system, which relies on a network of small antennas, often placed on utility poles, and provides an alternative to conventional towers.

“The Chappaquiddick wireless committee recommends that selectmen do not issue an RFP for an over height cell tower on Chappy at this time,” Ms. Clay said. “The committee has determined and agrees, that a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is the best system for Chappy and allowing and encouraging a cell tower developer to propose to build an oversize cell tower will undermine the effort to interest a DAS developer to build a less intrusive and superior facility for Chappy.”

“This has been going on for what, three years?” selectman Margaret Serpa asked. “And nothing has happened. I just think we’re at a dead end.”

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck echoed Ms. Serpa’s sentiments. “We’ve sent out an RFP three times, and we haven’t gotten any response, and you guys don’t want anything but this system, so I would say that the wireless committee has done its job and, like Margaret said, we’re at the end of the road,” he said. “And it’s too bad it didn’t work out.”

Chappaquiddick Island Association president and wireless committee member Roger Becker was undeterred. “We feel that we can get it, eventually DAS will come to Chappaquiddick,  assuming you don’t undermine it with some secondary proposal for something less,” he said.

Town administrator Pamela Dolby proposed that selectmen hold a public hearing to solicit more views. “I’d suggest that you want to give them more time,” Ms. Dolby said. “And I think we should have a public hearing in July, when everybody’s here from Chappaquiddick. We’ll have a big public hearing and hear from the entire community.”

Selectmen agreed to schedule a meeting.

Books, wine and lighthouses

In other action Monday, selectmen approved a liquor licence request from Edgartown Books.

“The purpose of seeking an alcohol licence is just to enhance the experience,” said Sean Murphy, an Edgartown lawyer representing Edgartown Books. “They’re not looking to open a bar, they’re not looking to have any time issues, they’ll be closed when the book store closes at 10 o’clock.”

Selectmen also signed the lease agreement for the Edgartown Lighthouse.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum will continue to act as stewards of the lighthouse.

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue this work, and we hope everybody has a chance to go down there this summer,” museum finance director Betsey Mayhew said.