Future location of the Gay Head Light tops Aquinnah special town meeting

The town of Aquinnah will take ownership of Gay Head Light. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Aquinnah voters are scheduled to take action on a short special town meeting warrant on Thursday, November 6, that includes a measure authorizing selectmen to purchase two parcels of land that abut the future site of the Gay Head Light, and a measure to fund improvements at the regional refuse disposal facility in Edgartown. The meeting is set to begin at 7 pm at the old town hall.

The land purchase article asks voters to appropriate $590,000 to purchase two lots totaling .37 acres with three buildings at 9 and 13 Aquinnah Circle that abut the new location of the Gay Head Lighthouse. The properties are owned by Joseph Murray of San Antonio, Texas, according to assessors records. The parcels will be less than 100 feet from the spot where the town plans to move the light. The town recently took ownership of the historic lighthouse, and plans to begin moving it away from the quickly eroding Gay Head Cliffs to its new location beginning next spring.

“If the town votes to approve the sale, we’ll probably establish a committee for community feedback, as to how the buildings might be used,” town administrator Adam Wilson said.

Among the possible future use of the properties could be community housing, a site for a new police station, or open space that could become part of the planned park space surrounding the lighthouse.

Voters will also be asked to approve a Martha’s Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District request to borrow $2.5 million. This money would be used to restructure the traffic flow and residential drop-off at the Edgartown transfer station.

Aquinnah is assessed 3 percent of the costs, or $75,000 over the life of the bond. Any vote to borrow money requires approval by two thirds of voters at the town meeting.

Last week, Chilmark was the first of four towns in the district to vote in favor on the project. Edgartown and West Tisbury will vote in the spring. All four towns must vote in favor of this project at their respective special town meetings. (Oak Bluffs and Tisbury use a separate refuse transfer station.)

The community preservation committee submitted an article recommending that voters approve $5,000 for repair of a stone wall behind town hall, and $20,000 for emergency repairs to the old parsonage building at 3 Church Street, in order to preserve existing affordable housing opportunities. Community Preservation Act projects are funded by a 3 percent surcharge on property tax bills.

Also on the warrant are questions asking voters to approve prior year bills for repair of public restrooms, wiring inspections, refuse disposal, and fuel. Payment of prior year bills requires approval of nine tenths of voters present.