New stop signs in Menemsha

Selectmen discusses new stop signs in Menemsha, a potential decision on use of the Community Center, and the next steps for electrical work at the docks in a varied meeting Tuesday night. — Brian Dowd

Chilmark residents can expect to see a new stop sign at the corner of Basin and North roads.

At their meeting Tuesday evening, selectmen spoke with Joan Malkin, Chilmark’s representative on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), about the potential for a new stop sign in Menemsha. The selectmen, Malkin, and members of the public at the meeting were in agreement that drivers often speed down North Road and create a hazard for people walking in the road.

The MVC performed a traffic study on the road concluding the amount of traffic did not meet the “usual standard” for a stop sign, but the town still has the authority to put a sign there if it wants.

Malkin requested an additional warning sign to be placed before the stop sign.

Selectmen then approved installing two stop signs at Basin and North roads, an advanced warning sign, painting two stop lines and crosswalks, and surveying the land to paint two yellow lines for pedestrians.

In other business, Pam Bunker, the assistant assessor to the board of assessors, informed the town they had to decide on the yearly tax rate. The town can decide whether to have a single tax rate for every home or a split tax rate that is based on tax class.

There are five categories of classes in Massachusetts: residential, open space, commercial, industrial, and personal property. Chilmark’s total value for FY 2019 is over $3 billion dollars. The average assessment is $1.3 million.

The board of assessors recommended that selectmen adopt a single tax rate. The proposed tax rate for FY 2019 would be $2.90 which is a 15 cent increase from last year.

Selectmen held a public hearing about the tax rate, but no one from the public made any comment. Selectmen then decided to accept the board of assessors recommendation for a single tax rate.

Selectmen met with use of town facilities committee member Jane Slater to discuss who should and shouldn’t be charged for using the Chilmark Community Center for events and weddings. Due to its low rental price, the community center has become a popular destination for weddings, funerals, events, and birthdays for non Chilmark residents. Slater had concerns the town wasn’t charging enough for people to rent out the building to cover septic and electrical costs. She said the town should explore options on what non-residents should be charged.

Slater and the committee investigated rental costs of similar town properties on Island to determine how the community center should price its rental fees.

Selectmen said they would make a decision at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 4.

A single bid for electrical upgrades to Menemsha’s docks has come in over budget at $333,014, further delaying the project.

Town administrator Tim Carroll said some of that money is due to the contractor’s vendor selection of equipment in excess of what the town was expecting. Carroll said the town made itself clear what type of equipment it wanted, but the contractor was unable to get new numbers in time. Carroll rejected the bid saying there were many areas that the town could save money such as using aluminum locks instead of stainless steels ones.

The soonest the project can go back out to bid is in three to four weeks.

Meanwhile, Chilmark resident Emmett Carroll has approached the town about selling a parcel of his land.

“I think we should pursue and go into appropriate negotiations and go to the town to see if the town wants to make that acquisition,” selectman Jim Malkin said. Purchase of the land would be subject to a town vote.

Carroll is offering the parcel for  $950,000. Selectmen scheduled to go into an executive session Tuesday at 9:30 am to discuss land acquisition.

The town will advertise the position for a new harbormaster in January and hopefully have someone hired and working on April 1. “One of the things that we can do that is most valuable to the town is make sure we hire the best possible people and that’s what I look forward to doing.”