Edgartown appoints new fire chief

Alex Schaeffer to take over for Peter Shemeth.

Brittany Bowker

The Edgartown board of selectmen appointed Alex Schaeffer as new fire chief to succeed Peter Shemeth.

Mr. Shemeth has served as fire chief for 12 years, and will reach the mandatory retirement age of 65 early next year. Selectmen unanimously entertained the motion to be effective Jan. 9.

“We’re very excited about this,” selectmen chairman Arthur Smadbeck said. “It’s hard to believe Peter is retiring.”  

“I’ll miss dealing with the people, with the personnel, and helping the public,” Mr. Shemeth said in a phone conversation with The Times. “That part I’ll miss. The false alarms at 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning, not so much.”

Mr. Shemeth has served at the station for more than 40 years, and said he’ll still be around to help out wherever he can.

“When you’ve been doing something for so many years it becomes a part of you, and will continue to be whether you’re active or sitting by the sidelines,” he said.

Deputy Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer has been working alongside Mr. Shemeth for years, and the department is confident in the station’s transition.

“The future of the department is in good hands,” Mr. Shemeth said.

In other business, selectmen officially declared the Yellow House available for lease, and approved the request for proposal (RFP) submitted by the Yellow House committee. Rockfish restaurant will be closed from Jan. 29 to Feb. 13 for maintenance. Removal and replacement of a shade tree at 66 Main St. was approved, as well as removal and replacement of a tree at 19 Main St.

Town meeting set for next Tuesday

Edgartown voters will be asked to put a temporary moratorium on recreational marijuana retailers and related businesses at a special town meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Old Whaling Church.

The warrant article seeks a moratorium until Dec. 31, 2018. “The regulation of recreational marijuana establishments raises novel and complex legal, planning, and public safety issues and the town needs time to study and consider the regulation of marijuana establishments,” the article states.

The moratorium, which would give the town time to come up with a zoning bylaw regulating marijuana, requires a two-thirds vote.

A second marijuana related article would prohibit public consumption of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The by-law would make it unlaw to “use or consume” marijuana while on any street, sidewalk, public way, park, playground and other areas outlined in the proposed by-law. A $100 fine could be issued for each offense.

Voters are also being asked to authorize the lease of land located at 38 Meshacket Road for up to 99 years for affordable housing.

The personnel board is looking for approval of recommendations made after a study by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management. The study recommended updating titles to reflect responsibilities, reclassification of all positions, and making salary adjustments. A separate article seeks $217,698 to fund the recommendations.

Four financial-related articles seek funding, including $14,000 to pay for a new server at town hall and $18,000 to pay unpaid bills.