Edgartown selectmen consider Chappy ferry line diplomacy

In other business, work on the Post Office is moving along, and a shellfisherman lost his license for one month.

The Chappy ferry will be out of commission for vehicles on Sunday while repairs are made. — File photo

At the Monday meeting of the Edgartown selectmen, town administrator Pam Dolby outlined a proposal received from Chappaquiddick resident Woody Filley to help find a solution to the nettlesome problem of the Chappy Ferry vehicle line on behalf of his company, Community Supported Solutions.

Seven property owners along Simpson’s Lane have threatened a lawsuit if the town does not adequately resolve their complaints about vehicles staging for the Chappy Ferry.

Ms. Dolby summarized the proposal: “They’ll work with the town and the abutters, and supply them with files about everything done in the past, and work with everyone to come up with a recommendation to the town.”

Ms. Dolby offered her own recommendation for Mr. Filley, who has long been active in town and Island affairs. “He’s very good at this, and very good at bringing people together,” she said. “I think it’s great, and it makes a lot more sense than going to court.”

The proposal consists of three phases: gathering, synthesizing, and making information available to those involved; gathering input from the community through public meetings, and individual and group interviews; and evaluating and prioritizing the results of the previous two phases, focusing on those recommendations most acceptable to the community.

The timeline for phase one is two weeks; phases two and three would each require four weeks to complete. The proposal states that results will be made available electronically, and that there will be a forum so that people can participate in reviewing and responding to suggestions. The final report will then be distributed to the community and town government.

“I’ve lived on Chappaquiddick for 35 years,” Mr. Filley said by phone after the meeting. “I retired from the high school last year, I’ve been involved with nonprofits. I like creative problem-solving, and I enjoy working with people, and I think there’s a way to coax a solution out of this.”

Ms. Dolby said the cost for the proposed services could be shared between the Chappaquiddick Island Association, residents along the streets used for the staging, the town, and the Chappy ferry. Costs are quoted at $10,000 to cover the three phases, which includes labor only. Additional costs incurred for presentation materials, printing, digital reproduction, and other associated costs would be billed separately.

“We ought to try to work it out,” selectman Margaret Serpa said. Selectmen agreed to hire Community Supported Solutions.

No bad news here

At the close of the Edgartown selectmen’s meeting Monday, selectman Michael Donaroma requested an update on the stalled Post Office Square project. Town health agent Matt Poole was notified via his cell phone mere minutes after the request from Mr. Donaroma that construction activity, halted for an inspection, could resume.

The message, “typed in caps, bold, and underlined,” Mr. Poole noted, gave the all-clear on the results of an assessment made after mold experts visited the property last week.

“Bottom line is, this is not bad news here,” Mr. Poole said.

In an email to The Times earlier Monday, property and developer owner Chuck Hajjar said, “The signoffs held us up longer than I hoped for. The good news is we have started to Sheetrock today. We already have the new lights and the floor tile. We should be able to finish up in a few weeks.”

Mr. Hajjar is adding a second floor, and five second-story apartments, to the Post Office Square complex that he owns. The complex is home to 16 business units. A heavy rainstorm last month hit the project as carpenters were working on the roof. The resulting damage forced the move of Post Office operations to the old Carnegie Library building, greatly inconveniencing postal patrons.

Babysitter and police

In other business Monday, following the recommendations of the town shellfish committee, selectmen signed off on a license suspension for shellfisherman Nick Viera following a brief public hearing.

In a letter dated May 10, shellfish constable Paul Bagnall documented four noncriminal citations issued to Mr. Viera for violating town shellfish regulations. These included possessing seed, or juvenile scallops, exceeding his limit, and fishing in a closed area of Cape Pogue.

Selectmen agreed with the shellfish committee’s 5-0 recommendation to suspend Mr. Viera’s shellfish license for one month, to include the first week of the lucrative commercial bay scallop season. Future violations would result in a loss of license.

Mr. Bagnall also asked selectmen to hold a public hearing for Angela Fisher and David Viera, father of Nick Viera, for shellfish violations, set for May 31.

In a follow-up conversation, Mr. Bagnall told The Times that the recommendation for suspension was due to the number of citations, and the shellfish committee wanted to be sure he missed a week of scalloping and not a whole month. “Most of these guys are hard workers, and they want to know what the rules are,” Mr. Bagnall said. “We want them to follow the rules, we don’t want to make them homeless.”

Mr. Bagnall said the town has a good supply of seed. Because it was a lean year for scallops in the other towns and the price was high, there was a “temptation to take the larger seed and open it up — we’re like a cross between the police and a babysitter.”

Selectmen also heard from a group of neighbors who voiced their concerns about a property owned by David Viera of 39 Jernegan Avenue. They submitted letters and photographs of the property to the selectmen, and expressed their concern about abandoned vehicles, boats, and considerable garbage piling up at the site.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck noted that the town had sent a letter to the owner of the property one year ago.

“We want to know why nothing’s been done, and when will it be done,” Gary Williams, one of the neighbors, said. “We’re concerned about rats, oil on the ground. It’s our taxes, and it affects our property values.”

The selectmen discussed putting a lien on the property and consulting with town counsel to determine what legal action the town could take. Leonard Jason, building inspector, reminded them of the cost of removing the garbage and all the boats and unregistered cars. The selectmen said they would like to clean up the property with the cooperation of the owners. They determined that they would send another letter to the owners of the property, giving them an opportunity to cooperate, before the town would take legal action.

Ms. Serpa asked Mr. Jason to report back to the selectmen at the May 23 meeting. “I think we need to see what progress is made,” she said.

“It’s gotten to the point where action has to be taken,” Mr. Donaroma added.

In other business, a one-day liquor license for the MV Wine Fest was granted to Sea Spa. Procurement officer Juliet Mulinare was present for her annual review, and garnered praise from the board of selectmen and Ms. Dolby. An excavation permit was granted for Brian Sylvia at 28 South Summer Street, and Jason Snow was given the go-ahead for the third annual Vineyard Triathlon, set for Sept. 11.