Chilmark eyes Beetlebung Farm acquisition

Selectmen also address Menemsha, Chilmark Friendship Day, and energy committee.

Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark is going on the market and selectmen have their eyes on it. - Rich Saltzberg

At the request of the affordable housing committee, Chilmark selectmen are contemplating the purchase of Beetlebung Farm, centrally located on Middle Road and owned by the family of celebrity chef Chris Fischer.

“[E]veryone at the housing committee level had great interest in support for the town pursuing that property,” selectman Bill Rossi, a member of the committee, said Tuesday night at the board’s weekly meeting, “especially it being in the center of town.” Rossi said while the committee’s primary objective would be creating housing, “I think we can incorporate dual purposes into the property.”

While not mentioned specifically Tuesday night as an option for Beetlebung Farm, Chilmark has struggled to find adequate real estate on which to situate a new fire station. The plan currently put forth by the selectmen, one that aims to place a new station in the town hall parking lot, runs the risk of failure if the conservation commission finds fault with it. The town has renewed discussions with Emmett Carroll regarding a parcel of land behind town hall that might make the station project more palatable to the conservation commission. However, that plan may run the risk of irking the board of the Chilmark Community Church, as whatever is placed on the Carroll parcel will occupy the backyard view of the church.

Rossi, a real estate broker, said Beetlebung Farm coming up for sale wasn’t speculation but reality. “I talked to the principals involved, and it is going to be on the market, like today or tomorrow,” he said. “Maybe we can talk about it in executive session.” The selectmen had prescheduled “the discussion of land acquisition,” as selectman Warren Doty put it, right after its regular session.

“I certainly support the potential for making the acquisition of that land for use that the town finds appropriate,” selectmen chairman Jim Malkin said of Beetlebung Farm.

After their meeting, the board posted another executive session for Thursday at 7 pm, also to deliberate on land acquisition.

In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to form a five-member energy committee. Finance advisory committee chairman Rob Hannemann, who is also Dukes County’s member of the Cape Light Compact executive committee, and chairman of the all-Island energy committee, told the selectmen most of the Vineyard towns have a formal energy committee.

“Sounds good,” Doty said.

Tri-Town Ambulance Chief Ben Retmier came before the board flanked by several members of his staff to ask about progress on a new station.

“We have been appreciative of all the efforts to accommodate us, but we’ve outgrown our facilities, and we’re just looking for a new facility,” he said. “We know there’s been some turmoil about where it’s going to be. We just want to help keep pushing the ball forward and get a proper facility for Tri-Town and our employees. And we’ve had concerns with some of the areas we’ve been in. We’re here to find out what’s going on and where we stand with everything.”

“Just in case we forget,” Rossi said.

“We are absolutely and certainly aware and conscious of this issue,” Malkin said. “It’s a major, major issue for our town and for Tri-Town … absolutely get that.”

Town administrator Tim Carroll said the station plans are slated to go before the conservation commission on Oct. 17 at 12:30 pm, and encouraged Chief Retmier and his staff to attend.

“We’ll be there,” Retmier said. He went on to say, “I’m getting a lot of pressure from the squad. They want to see some movement. Otherwise I’m going to lose employees, and I’m not going to be able to staff the ambulances in the summer for our seasonal shifts because it’s getting tough to retain people with inadequate facilities.”

“We’re moving as fast as our government process allows,” Rossi said.

Doty informed the board he and Carroll met with Menemsha property owners Paul and Karen DeMora Tuesday morning. Doty said the DeMoras are amenable to a pathway plan that will consume small sections of the edge of their property on Basin Road across from the Bite, an eatery that is no longer in business. Part of the Menemsha plan, Doty described the path as a five-foot-wide walkway that will abut an extension to a pre-existing stone wall. The DeMoras asked that the cap of the stone wall not be flat to prevent people from leaving rubbish on it, Doty said.

“They’re very agreeable to this,” he said, and noted the work just needs a contractor quote to begin.


Chilmark Friendship Day

Chilmark selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to declare Oct. 5 Chilmark Friendship Day, in honor of the bond Chilmark has with Chilmark, England, the namesake village of Chilmark, Mass.

“The Chilmarkers are coming,” Ebba Hierta, Chilmark library director, told The Times. “We’re so excited.”

Two residents from Chilmark, England, Mike and Jo Scott, will visit the Chilmark library at a reception on Oct. 5. Mike Scott is the editor of a monthly newsletter called the Village Voice.

“Mike will be touring our town that day to take photos and gather information for a series of articles for the residents of our sister village,” Hierta wrote, “letting them know what life is like in present-day Chilmark, Mass.”