West Tisbury selectmen say fence tab is too high

The West Tisbury State Road cemetery fence is in need of repair. — Photo by Michael Cummo

West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand told selectmen at their Wednesday meeting last week that she has received only one bid to replace the State Road cemetery fence with a new and longer enclosure. Ms. Rand said the bid, from an off-Island company, was just under $100,000. Voters approved $75,000 for the work in a close vote at town meeting in April.

Selectman Richard Knabel raised the question of whether the front fence could be rebuilt for a portion of the $75,000. Ms. Rand said she thought the front fence work would cost about $60,000 but that they were limited by the town vote and could not change the conditions of the town meeting warrant article to do the entire job.

Chairman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said that he considered maintaining the fence to be part of the perpetual care agreement made when lots are sold. He suggested, and the other selectmen agreed, that the town should search for more bids.

In other business, selectmen were brought up to speed on a dispute between a Coffins Field residents’ group and Animal Health Care Associates (AHC). Neighbors have complained that dogs boarded by veterinarian Stephen Atwood make too much noise. The issue was brought before the selectmen last August and both sides agreed to work together to find a solution.

The Coffins Field spokesperson, Elaine Friedman, said proposals from Animal Health Care to either install a soundproof curtain and or other sound dampening panels and a four-foot high wall around the kennel would not reduce the noise to acceptable levels. She proposed a 12-foot wall near the edge of the AHC property made of sound dampening material. AHC attorney Rosemary Haigazian said that the wall would be too expensive. Selectmen asked that more detailed proposals be presented at the next meeting.

Also Wednesday, selectmen voted to renew the lease for the West Tisbury School for $1 per year after discussion sparked by the retirement of the school construction bond. The Up-Island Regional School District paid rent equal to the bond payments. Mr. Manter, chairman of the committee, suggested that if the town were to rent the building back to the school district for a substantial sum the town would make money from the towns of Chilmark and Aquinnah, pointing out that the West Tisbury payment would be a wash, essentially a payment of town money back to the town.

Neither selectmen Cynthia Mitchell nor Mr. Knabel supported Mr. Manter’s proposal. Selectmen voted for the $1 lease.