Chilmark special includes $80,000 in spending requests

An anonymous donor has offered up to $100,000 to help find a way out of the Menemsha summer traffic snarl.

A sign on the corner of North Road and Tabor House Road directs vehicle drivers to the Menemsha shuttle lot. — Photo courtesy of Tim Carroll

Chilmark voters will be asked to take action on 10 spending requests, five of which relate to Menemsha issues, when they gather for a special town meeting in the Chilmark Community Center at 7:30 pm Monday, Nov. 9.

Menemsha projects account for more than half of the warrant articles, with the comfort station, traffic, and parking plans leading the way.

These include a request to spend $10,000 for a needs assessment and design services to address whether there should be a renovation or replacement of the Menemsha comfort station; $10,000 to develop a traffic and parking plan for vehicles and pedestrians in Menemsha; $16,000 to replace seven power pedestals on the west yacht dock floats and three power packs on the Dutcher Dock commercial bulkhead; $6,000 for the harbor department for a new boat, and a $2,000 request to replace the Incinolet toilet at the satellite parking lot off Tabor House Road, used for Menemsha visitors.

“We need to do a feasibility study and talk to an architect to determine if it’s more cost-effective to do a major renovation or just build a new comfort station,” selectman Bill Rossi told The Times. “It gets a lot of use every day, and it’s pretty worn out right now. It has been advised by our maintenance person in Menemsha that we do something, so we want to take a look at it.”

Mr. Rossi said if voters approve, he is hopeful there would be a plan ready to present at annual town meeting this spring, following a series of public hearings. Even if a plan is approved at annual town meeting, Mr. Rossi is doubtful that it would be completed for next summer.

The traffic and parking plan in Menemsha is of major concern. “We need to get a traffic engineer to look at Menemsha in a comprehensive fashion,” Mr. Rossi told The Times. “We felt the successful remedy to have a small walkway from the bathrooms to the beach was pretty effective; we saw a lot of people using it.”

An anonymous donor has come forward to help implement the results of a Menemsha traffic study, which will explore ways to alleviate the danger created by people walking in the road with traffic. “We’ve been offered an anonymous donation of up to $100,000, which is a pretty significant amount, but we have to have someone study it first,” Mr. Rossi told The Times.

“I’m sure it’s going to be complicated and I’m sure there are going to be many different ideas, but we need to have someone look at it,” he said. “We need to address what is an obvious problem in Menemsha.”

Mr. Rossi explained the power pedestal work “is just to keep up with maintenance,” and is expected to be completed by this summer. The small boat requested by the harbor department is in response to the anticipation of more traffic into the pond after the dredging of the channel is completed in January, allowing more vessels to enter the area. Mr. Rossi thinks more supervision is needed, and possibly another employee will be added to the 2017 budget.

Town leaders will also request a total of $10,000 for two issues at Tea Lane, at $5,000 each. One is to make repairs to Clambelly Lane and one is to make improvements for watershed protection of the Tiasquam River, as requested by the Conservation Commission.

“It’s about road work to divert water from heavy rain so it’s not damaging areas of the road,” Mr. Rossi told The Times about the proposed Tea Lane work. “The conservation has requested it, so I am in support of it.”

Regarding Clambelly Lane, he said, it is a problematic area that experiences some washout during heavy storms. Deca Construction has proposed a plan to regrade the road in that area to divert the water. “We need to address it so it doesn’t have to be fixed every time it rains,” Mr. Rossi said.

Voters will also be asked to spend $20,000 to increase the hours worked by the assistant shellfish constable. This is to cover the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30, as the assistant position was not budgeted in the shellfish department this budget cycle.

Last, a variety of bills totaling just over $6,000 are listed for payment. “Gotta pay those bills,” Mr. Rossi said.