Edgartown approves Yellow House proposal

After legal review town votes to approve bid.

Ben Hall, whose family used to own the Yellow House, talks about issues he has with a proposal to lease the building from the town. - Brian Dowd

Christopher Celeste, operating under the name Summer & Main LLC, took another step toward leasing and renovating the Yellow House in Edgartown Monday after being given the Yellow House committee’s blessing last week.

The town has been through a lengthy process of trying to find a bidder to lease the property and renovate it. Celeste was the sole bidder this time around.

On Monday, town selectmen Margaret Serpa and Mike Donaroma (selectman Arthur Smadbeck did not attend the meeting) met with town counsel Ron Rappaport to review any issues Celeste’s proposal might have.

Rappaport said he and his office reviewed the proposal and found it met all legal requirements.

Ben Hall Jr., whose family owned the property before the town took it by eminent domain, raised issues with the town accepting the proposal. He specifically pointed to the proposal’s construction plan and potential harm to a linden tree on the property. He also claimed there was a conflict of interest with contractor Gary Conover because he was on the team that acquired the Yellow House, and is now the general contractor in Celeste’s proposal.

“I would urge you to go back, try again, and get a proposal that actually meets the criteria that were set…part of the promise that was made to what was going to end up being on that property for all to see,” Hall said.

Rappaport said he had no issue with the proposal from a legal standpoint, adding that many of Hall’s claims were inaccurate, and several parts of the proposal were still subject to lease negotiations.

“I think it’s time to get this lease negotiation underway and get it done, and get the project started,” Serpa said.

The selectmen approved the proposal, and will now begin lease negotiations with Celeste.