Sprucing up for summer

In Chilmark, it’s pathways, pier cleanup, green burials, and summer prep.


In what could be his last meeting as chairman before passing the gavel to fellow selectman and vice chairman Bill Rossi, Chilmark selectman Warren Doty began Tuesday’s by acknowledging the transition: “On a parenthetical note, this could be the last meeting that I’m chairman after town meeting, and I look forward to passing the gavel. In the interest of this being my last meeting, I hope we can accomplish it in one hour.” He and his colleagues came very close.

The selectmen applauded a parking agreement reached between the Chilmark library and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) for those evenings when the MVFF holds events at the Chilmark Community Center, which is next to the library.

Library director Ebba Hierta sent a letter to the selectmen outlining the agreement. The library agreed to begin its Wednesday lectures at 5 pm to reduce the congestion and jockeying for parking that happen when two events begin at the same time. Whenever the MVFF hosts events that coincide with library hours, the festival will supply an attendant at the lot entrance 30 minutes before their event begins, and the attendant will remain until the library closes. On days when the MVFF holds the children’s circus, it will make arrangements to provide overflow parking exclusively for library patrons someplace near the library.

“In previous years they made an agreement to use the Conroy lot for this purpose, and this would suffice again,” the letter explains. The library trustees agreed that MVFF customers are welcome to park in the library lot after the library closes.

Selectman James Malkin suggested that library trustee Jane Kaplan, who presented the letter at the meeting, keep the agreement in hand as the season progresses.

“I was going to suggest you keep this close by,” Mr. Malkin said. “What happened this year and in prior years, we are not party to this agreement, and it’s come to us for enforcement.”

“Chief Klaren is very interested in making this work,” Mr. Doty said, referring to Chilmark’s new police chief, Jonathan Klaren. “He’s coming into his first summer at work, and he’s approaching this summer as a time when he’s going to work on parking issues.”

Mr. Malkin reported that the committee charged with creating better footpaths through the center of town came to the conclusion that they will take some small steps by this summer to improve the town’s pathways.

“In looking at what needed to be done, we decided to approach property owners to get them to make it a little more pedestrian-friendly,” Mr. Malkin said. He noted that Stanley Larsen had made improvements on his property, and that a crosswalk barrel would be placed near Conroy’s during summer, along with creating a “meandering path and marking it with small signage, directing flow in a way that’s safe,” Mr. Malkin reported.

The town’s parks and recreation committee reported that the fishing shack donated to the town by Everett Poole, now under a one-year lease by Donald Poole, has been determined to have faulty electrical wiring, and asked for $2,095 for repairs. Mr. Doty noted that he hoped the fishing shack would qualify for Community Preservation Act funds.

“Those really are historical buildings, and preserving them in some way so they continue to have the same appearance is something that the CPC should do,” Mr. Doty said.

Mr. Malkin argued that he believed that Donald Poole should be responsible for any repairs.

Chuck Hodgkinson, administrative assistant to the parks and recreation committee, said that the committee had considered that option.

“The parks and recreation committee discussed the lease, and decided it would be hard for a tenant with a 12-month lease to put capital improvements into a building, not knowing if they’ll get the lease for the next year,” Mr. Hodgkinson told the selectmen. “The wiring in this shack was installed in 1939, after the hurricane, and it sits between the two fish markets.”

The CPC will take the fishing shack under consideration, and then the selectmen could put the question of using CPA funds to restore the fishing shack on the agenda.

The selectmen agreed to do a walk around Menemsha Harbor to check on the docks, pier, and town buildings, making sure they are ready for the summer influx. They set May 1 at 9 am for the walkabout.

Cemetery commissioner John Flender reported on the ongoing discussion of requiring green burials. He said burial without a cement casket liner would lead to more settlement of gravesites, making mowing and maintenance of the cemetery more difficult.

“Cost of a funeral grows and grows,” he said. “The idea that some family member can build a pine box locally, and the body can be put in it and buried, and fill in the dirt … That doesn’t involve buying a $5,000 casket and a $2,000 cement liner, and we can have families do what is in keeping with their personal lives. I think it’s something we should consider.”

The selectmen voted to agree with the cemetery commissioner’s recommendation, which required a concrete liner for green burials.

“We may plan to revisit it next year,” Mr. Rossi told the Times.

In a move echoed by neighboring West Tisbury, the Chilmark selectmen agreed to say thanks but no thanks to the proposal by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) regarding the transfer of routine maintenance responsibilities for state-owned roads to Island towns. Executive secretary Timothy Carroll agreed to draft a letter to send to MassDOT saying as much.