Updated Nov. 16 at 4:05
At 3:30 pm Friday afternoon, Chilmark officials opened a sole bid for electrical upgrades to Menemsha’s docks and decided to scrap the process and try anew. A special town meeting that aims to fund additional Menemsha related items, among other things, gets underway on Monday at 7:30 pm in the Community Center. The single bid came from Powers Electric, the electrical construction company owned by Chilmark inspector of wires Cole Powers. The Powers Electric bid was discarded due to a technical bid mistake, according to town administrator Tim Carroll. Other bids may have been delayed because FedEx wasn’t delivering to the Vineyard Friday due to foul weather, Carroll noted. He said he expects the selectmen to restart the RFP process of the project when they meet on Tuesday.
On Nov. 27 of last year, Chilmark voters approved $350,000 to upgrade electrical infrastructure at the harbor in light of stray voltage anomalies that resulted in several people suffering varying degrees of shock when they came into contact with the water there.
It has taken a year to get to the bid stage, Jim Malkin, selectmen chairman and the board’s harbor liaison, told The Times, largely because securing an engineering consultant took longer than anyone anticipated. Chilmark secured the electrical engineering firm Vincent DiIorio, Inc. to execute that plan. Malkin said assembling the harbormaster, town administrator, and inspector of wires for reviews of the harbor and to vet the plan, ate up time, as did a redo of the plan based on their suggestions.
“It takes time to do things right,” Carroll said. Carroll noted that the town did interim repairs to harbor wiring. Carroll said earlier Friday he was unsure how many of the 10 to 15 bids sent out will be returned for opening this afternoon, though he was confident the number won’t be zero.
Chilmark selectmen realized in April it would be unrealistic to anticipate generating and implementing an electrical upgrade plan before the season started and saw no merit in trying to execute work during the season.
While no other Menemsha electrical-related articles are on the special town warrant, Article 2 seeks $24,000 for overlap training for a new harbormaster and harbor staff. Malkin said these funds will help the new harbormaster, which the town hopes to have selected by April 1, 2019, learn the particulars of the job in Chilmark while the current harbormaster, who is slated to retire June 30, 2019, is still available for on-the-job insight.
Article 12 seeks to add $15,000 to funds already voted in at the annual town meeting to fund a new dirt parking lot by the Menemsha comfort station (i.e. public toilets).
Articles 12 and 13 seek, per the Menemsha Plan, $22,000 and $27,000 to construct “pedestrian walkways” on Basin Road and North Road in Menemsha. The purpose of the walkways is to better pedestrian safety, according to Carroll, who noted they are not sidewalks because they are unpaved paths and because Chilmark does not have sidewalks.
Article 15, seeks $15,000 to design a training and storage area near the Chilmark landfill. As the selectmen discussed on Oct. 16, after learning about a deer “death pit’ near the landfill, both the fire department and the shellfish department saw great utility in creating a place where fishermen could store gear away from Menemsha and the pond and where the firefighters could train.
Article 10 is the most expensive article on the warrant. It seeks $100,000 from community preservation funds “to replenish Chilmark’s rent subsidy program.”