Chilmark selectmen give up on Carroll property for firehouse

Chilmark firefighters quickly put out a small brush fire Tuesday. – MV Times file photo

The Chilmark public safety building committee met Monday and decided not to pursue the Carroll property off Middle Road for the site of a new public safety building. The primary reason was that Chilmark Fire Chief David Norton was not behind the project.

Chilmark selectmen met Tuesday and agreed to back off the pending deal. “At the end of Monday’s meeting, it was decided to not recommend that property for the public safety building,” selectman Bill Rossi told The Times Wednesday morning. “It all came down to the chief’s support; he was not behind the purchase of that property to accommodate a fire station, and we were looking at the property at his request. If he is not behind it, we all felt it was silly to recommend it.”

Selectmen signed a purchase and sale agreement in November for $975,000 with Sam Carroll, the executor of the estate of Bette Carroll. The sale is contingent upon approval at a special town meeting scheduled for Feb. 29 just for that purpose.

Options for the property included a fire department building alone, or a fire department and EMS combined in one building. Chief Norton has expressed concerns about the size of the parcel, the need to share a parking lot with town hall, and emergency trucks entering and exiting Beetlebung Corner from Middle Road.

Mr. Rossi said that the need remains for a building to house the Tri-Town Ambulance service that is permanently located in Chilmark, to service West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah. “That was the only hesitation,” said Mr. Rossi, about giving up on the property.

An extension request on the purchase and sale agreement of the property will be made in case any hope remains, but it is unclear if the extension will be granted.

“Chief Norton has a couple of properties he wanted to look into that were possibilities that people may be willing to sell, so our final decision will likely be put off for three weeks to a month,” Mr. Rossi told The Times.

A special town meeting scheduled for Feb. 29 to take action on the purchase will be canceled.

“There is still some hope, but it doesn’t look good right now,” Mr. Rossi said.

In other business Tuesday, selectmen reviewed near-term plans for Menemsha comfort station upgrades. They include some basic cosmetic upgrades in time for summer such as painting and new shower heads. Fall projects will likely include plumbing upgrades, an extra stall in the women’s room, two urinals in the men’s room, and the addition of a couple of outdoor showers.

“We’re looking to renovate the current building,” said Mr. Rossi. “I don’t think we’ll be looking into a major rebuild. We’re going to work the footprint.”