Edgartown selectmen stand by shellfish penalties

Tensions ran high Tuesday when selectmen took up a full agenda.

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Cars waited in line for the Chappy Ferry last June. – MV Times

Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall came under fire Tuesday after recommending to selectmen that David Viera lose his shellfishing license for one month for violations during scalloping season.

Mr. Viera said that he was being “singled out” by the longtime constable. “I’ve been scalloping since 1988,” Mr. Viera said. “Yes, there was more seed this year, yes it should be protected, but I feel like I’m being singled out.”

Mr. Bagnall told selectmen that Mr. Viera received a citation in March 2013 for being over the legal limit, and two citations during the 2015-2016 bay scallop season for possession of seed scallops and for getting to the dock late. Mr. Viera said that he had an “elderly gentleman” who wasn’t familiar with scalloping with him when it was determined that he was in possession of seed scallops.

“I dumped them back into the water,” Mr. Viera said. “There’s no proof there was seed on my boat.”

Mr. Bagnall said that Mr. Viera had 21 days to appeal, and “that time has long since passed.”

The selectmen unanimously approved the committee’s recommendation to suspend Mr. Viera’s license for one month, with the time period of suspension to be determined after the 2016-2017 commercial bay scallop season is set.

In another shellfishing matter, Angela Fisher made no comment as the selectmen approved the Shellfish Committee’s recommendation that her shellfishing license be suspended for one week. Ms. Fisher received two citations during the 2015-2016 season; one for being late into the dock, and another for possession of seed scallops.

In what proved to be another heated discussion, architect Dudley Cannada, who owns property at 50 and 44 North Water Street in Edgartown, approached the selectmen with a suggested solution to the ongoing conundrum over the Chappy ferry traffic lines. The selectmen allowed Mr. Cannada to speak prior to the start of the shellfishing hearings as they waited for Mr. Viera and Ms. Fisher to arrive at the meeting.

Mr. Cannada shared photos with selectmen that highlighted ferry lines and sign postings in the area.

“Ferry lines are more often and much longer compared to the past,” he said. “The fact is that the size of the vehicles is much bigger, and there are many, many more vehicles going to Chappaquiddick.”

Mr. Cannada said he was only representing himself at the meeting, not the other half-dozen complainants represented in a threatened lawsuit against the town in attorney Ellen Kaplan’s letter to the selectmen dated Nov. 12, 2015.

His suggested solution was to put someone in place at the end of Dagget Street to pass out a ticket with a come-back time printed on it. “Something they could place in their front window,” Mr. Cannada said. “This is their ticket to get in line in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. I think this is the best way to solve the problem.” He admitted it was a short-term solution to a long-term problem, and suggested that the real solution is a reservation system.

Mr. Donaroma asked Mr. Cannada if he was aware of the proposal to help resolve the issue that was approved by the selectmen in mid-May on behalf of Chappy resident Woody Filley’s company, Community Supported Solutions. Mr. Cannada said town administrator Pam Dolby had sent him a copy of the proposal, but that he had not been “asked to participate.”

“It’s almost exactly what we brought to the planning board, and nothing happened,” Mr. Cannada said. “I’ve talked to Woody, and I told him I’d give him everything I’ve got … but I wouldn’t want to go through a public hearing again, not after the abuse we took from the Chappy people … nothing made it better last year. It’s very frustrating and very dangerous.”

Selectman Margaret Serpa told Mr. Cannada that the selectmen are committed to seeing Mr. Filley’s proposal through. “I think at this point we’re committed to go through the process we approved,” she said.

Following a break for the shellfish hearings and other business, Mr. Cannada picked up where he left off.

“To put us through another round of the process as a delay in the process is frustrating. We’d like to see something positive happen now as a sign of good faith. It looks like you’re doing nothing … I think we’ve been ignored, and we need something done for us.”

Selectman Art Smadbeck explained that the selectmen have long wrestled with the problem. “It’s not something we don’t recognize,” he said. “There is a process we have to go through, as frustrating as that might be.”

“That’s another year,” Mr. Cannada responded. “We believe it’s the same process you’ve been through.”

“The police chief is sitting right there and the highway department superintendent Stuart Fuller is sitting right there,” Ms. Serpa said in a particularly heated moment; “to say we’re not trying anything is not right.”

Edgartown Police Chief David Rossi said he had spent a great deal of time grappling with the issue. “I spent so much of my time on that last summer,” Chief Rossi said. “We do care, and we are doing things about it.”

He explained that lines were painted and officers were put on detail to help with the problem. Mr. Cannada had mentioned earlier that it took 20 minutes for an ambulance to get through the ferry line. In response, the chief said, “The ambulance came over from Oak Bluffs because our ambulance was in use. They’re not used to coming down that way.”

Following the meeting, Chief Rossi said that he’s coming up on 28 years with the Edgartown Police Department. “And for 28 years we’ve dealt with it,” he said. He said new lines have been painted, signs were put up, and there is a live camera feed so the police department can monitor the situation.

“I can only do so much,” Chief Rossi said. “If there’s a bigger solution out there, it’s beyond me.”