Chilmark selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to postpone closing on real estate intended for a new fire station and Tri-Town Ambulance facility, at the request of owners Emmett and Kathy Carroll.
Selectmen Warren Doty, having just rotated into the chairmanship, read into the record an email the Carrolls sent to the board: “Now that the annual Chilmark town meeting has authorized the purchase of our lot at 399 Middle Road, and the annual town election has approved the Proposition 2½ override, we are writing to review our previous request and to make an additional request.”
The Carrolls requested they be able to take a “playhouse,” various appliances, and some ornamental plants from the property, which had long served as their summer camp. More significantly, the Carrolls requested to reschedule their closing date for the property to Sept. 23, as they would like to spend the summer at the property. Previously the closing was slated for 30 days after town meeting.
Selectman Jim Malkin said that although the town treasurer indicated it would be more fiscally advantageous to close after July 1, delays in closing run the risk of accumulated costs and no deal.
“The only concern I have is that we wait until September and we spend money on planning and development, and then [if] we can’t close for whatever reason, we have a problem,” he said. “The only problem that I can think that might come up is an issue with the title, or if there is an issue with any encumbrance on the title.”
Malkin suggested making a request of town counsel to examine the title “now.”
Selectman Bill Rossi asked that the town be able to come onto the property to conduct whatever studies and engineering surveys were necessary to prepare for the next stage of the project.
Emmett Carroll, who was present with Kathy Carroll, said he had no objection to such access to the property.
Town administrator Tim Carroll, who is deputy fire chief and the Carrolls’ son, said he believed Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan & Hackney, town counsel, handled the estate of his grandmother, the estate that conferred the property to his parents. He made the point the law firm already had a lot of documentation helpful for scrutinizing the title.
Ahead of the vote, the board folded in two amendments: that a title search be executed “in a timely manner,” and that after 24 hours notice, town agents will be permitted to access the property when they need to do so.
Over the course of its many-year pursuit of a new fire station, Chilmark tried to buy the same piece of land from the estate of Bette Carroll for $975,000, but the deal fell through in large part because of Fire Chief David Norton’s reservations about fire engine maneuverability on Middle Road. The present deal with the Carrolls is for $900,000. Chilmark voters authorized another $200,000 to design the new fire station and Tri-Town Ambulance building.
Wiring late for work
The selectmen expressed frustration at delays in a major upgrade to dockside electrical infrastructure in Menemsha. By contract, Powers Electric was supposed to be finished with the project by April 15, but the work there remains undone.
“Will our electrical project give power to the slips by May 20?” Doty asked newly installed Chilmark harbormaster Ryan Rossi.
“I have given them that deadline,” Rossi said, and added that Cole Powers, Chilmark’s inspector of wires and owner of Powers Electric, indicated he was shooting for May 24.
“As of right now, we have a generator down at the harbor shack for us to utilize power if we need it. And we’ll be borrowing power for our computer systems from the Menemsha Texaco lot. As for the 30-amp and 50-amp shore power and the GFI outlets, it’s unclear whether or not that will be up and running by Memorial Day weekend, but we hope to have it working by Memorial Day.”
“My discussions with Mr. Powers yesterday was that May 20th is a drop-dead deadline,” Doty said.
“That’s what I told him as well,” Ryan Rossi said.
“And that he guarantees,” Doty continued, “that the power will all be on — maybe the wooden posts will not be in — but the receptacles will be up and they’ll be powered by May 20th. And my suggestion is that on May 21st, we institute a $1,000 a day penalty, and that we encourage him to get it done by May 20th.”
Rossi said there were “unforeseen issues that arose during the project,” but didn’t specify what those were. He went on to say, “I feel pretty strongly that Cole will be able to reach the new deadline.”
Tim Carroll later told The Times Powers’ workers encountered old septic tanks and related piping, and one or more old fuel tanks, that needed to be either removed or worked around.