Edgartown shellfish constable requests more hours to tend Sengekontacket oysters

Edgartown paid nearly $30,000 more into the high school budget than it was supposed to. - MVTimes File Photo

Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall asked Edgartown selectmen to expand the hours of one of his assistants from 19 to 30 hours per week, time he said would be used to bolster the town’s oyster growing project in Sengekontacket Pond. Mr. Bagnall said family shellfish permit holders began harvesting oysters this fall. He said the oysters also remove nitrogen from the pond, and the town may be able to get credit toward state set targets for nitrogen reduction.

“It’s been a wildly successful program,” Mr. Bagnall told the board at their regular Monday meeting.

Selectman Margaret Serpa was skeptical of the final costs, and noted that the additional hours would make the employee eligible for town-funded job benefits. “It was $20,000 we added for that position,” Ms. Serpa said. “We were told it would be adequate. It almost sounds like you’re creating a position for a person that’s doing this. If he becomes an employee there are many associated costs that will double the cost.”

Selectmen Art Smadbeck and Michael Donaroma were more supportive. Mr. Smadbeck said the removal of nitrogen had altered his initial view. “When I was first looking at this, I was looking at the cold numbers and cold facts,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “I was thinking, no. The issue of nitrogen mitigation is going to become more and more important.”

The board took no action, but advised Mr. Bagnall to consult with the town personnel board, and consider a town meeting article to fund the extra hours.

Also Monday, selectmen unanimously voted to appoint Chappaquiddick resident Geoff Kontje, a building contractor, to the Edgartown conservation commission to fill the vacancy created when commission member Edith “Edo” Potter resigned.

In other action, selectmen approved a plan to replace seven trees of varying species, sizes, and health, with five new shade trees at 96 South Summer Street, where a new home is under construction. A week earlier, the board declined to approve a plan calling for two or three new trees.

“I think the five trees help the streetscape,” Mr. Donaroma said.

The property is valued at 1.8 million. It is owned by the Jeffrey S. Nolan Trust, which lists an address in Cohasset, according to assessors records.