Transfer of Lot 341 on warrant for Aquinnah town meeting

Abby Jardin pleads with selectmen to remove the article transferring lot 341 to affordable housing from the town warrant. — Lucas Thors

Abby Jardin met with Aquinnah selectmen Tuesday to plead with them to disallow an article on the town meeting warrant transferring Lot 341 to affordable housing.

Jardin’s family are heirs to Abram Rodman, who originally owned the land.

Jardin claims that the town unlawfully took the land from her family when they were financially unstable and her parents were dealing with health issues.

“Everyone knows full well that land was stolen back in 1929, when my great-great grandfather had encephalitis of the brain. He was not capable of signing anything,” Jardin said.

Jardin said her great-great grandfather owned acres of property that were given to the town in lieu of medical expenses.

Now, she said, only one parcel remains that is still rightfully in the family name — Lot 341.

Jardin said the town has squandered the property in the past, “and now they are going to give it to affordable housing when my family is destitute.”

Last year, selectmen allowed the Jardin family 10 months to provide proof that the title work done by the town was incorrect.

Jardin agreed to provide documented proof on or before March 1.

Town administrator Jeff Madison said that so far, no such proof has been submitted to the town for review.

Jardin said she has not been able to hire a lawyer to help her in the case because she has been out of work, but said that now she will be working again and should be able to afford legal services. She requested an additional six months to provide documentation that proves the town made a mistake in the old deeds and records.

Although Jardin said she empathizes with those who need affordable housing, she insisted that the property is Indian land, and belongs to her family. “I ask you to reach into your hearts and consider this,” she said.

Selectman Julianne Vanderhoop said it is inevitable that this goes to town meeting floor, and wondered if Jardin could submit paperwork to the town before the meeting. Jardin agreed to bring documented proof in by next week.

In other news, selectmen are looking for an Aquinnah representative to serve on the high school’s regional agreement subcommittee. Anyone who is interested should contact the Aquinnah town hall.