Progress reported on Edgartown solar project annoyances

The contractor installed inverters, which emit a constant hum, close to several homes. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Edgartown has made progress, but much work remains to complete maintenance, landscaping, and reduce noise at the town solar installation near the Smith Hollow neighborhood, town administrator Pam Dolby told selectmen at their weekly meeting, which was held Tuesday rather than Monday due to the holiday.

Neighbors of the project complained that the contractor, American Capital Energy (ACE), has not lived up to its obligation to grade, landscape, and clean the site.

Ms. Dolby has been negotiating with ACE executives to craft a plan for continued maintenance. The contractor has also committed to reducing the level of the low-pitched hum emanating from three large inverters.

“I think we made a lot of progress this week,” Ms. Dolby told the board and several Smith Hollow residents who attended the meeting. “Hopefully, we’ll continue from there. We have to be very careful about including everything in the maintenance agreement.”

Ms. Dolby said she would continue to work with the contractor, and push for a definite timetable to complete the work.

Also Tuesday, selectmen authorized town counsel to research legal issues associated with building a bike path along Meshacket Road.

“The current situation is hazardous, especially to pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Jeff Agnoli, who represented area residents. Mr. Agnoli said research by the town counsel is the first step in a long process.

A bike path could involve amending agricultural preservation restrictions on land administered by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, from West Tisbury Road to the old town landfill. It may also involve negotiation with private homeowners.

On the recommendation of the Dukes County Retirement Board, selectmen voted to reclassify full-time paramedics to the same classification as police officers and firefighters.

“What that means,” said chairman Art Smadbeck, “is acknowledgement that a paramedic has a very stressful job, and should be treated more as some of the other public safety employees are treated.”

The reclassification has implications for mandatory retirement requirements, and it allows those employees, in certain circumstances, to retire earlier with full pension benefits, than most state and municipal employees.