West Tisbury mulls dump closure 

IGI to set up at Howes House.

Officials discussed closing the town's dropoff location for trash at Wednesday's meeting. - Rich Saltzberg

West Tisbury health agent Omar Johnson and board of health member Erik Lowe came before West Tisbury selectmen Wednesday night with a pitch to close the West Tisbury transfer station.

Lowe told the board the station needs “a considerable amount of work.” In lieu of that, he suggested rerouting rubbish to the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District facility in Edgartown once its upgrade is complete. 

“The shed is in bad repair and the wall is in bad repair, and I understand we got a pretty hefty estimate to repair the wall,” Lowe said. 

The wall referred to by Lowe separates trash and recycling trailers from a dropoff lot. Lowe said once a new facility is finished in Edgartown, it would be a better bet to use it. “The point is we’d have to spend a lot of money at our local dropoff,” he said, “and there’d still be continuing maintenance after that, and it seems like we’ve invested, as a member of the Refuse District, in a facility that can handle more effectively the people’s trash. And why keep the local dropoff operating?”

If West Tisbury closed, Chilmark could cover some days as well, Lowe said.

“The biggest question is probably going to be, What’s going to happen to the Dumptique?” chairman Skipper Manter said. The Dumptique, a free exchange where Vineyarders and visitors alike can drop off their white elephants, bric-a-brac, and clothing, or take such things, is immensely popular. 

“They’ve come to us with ideas about renovating that building,” Lowe said. “I think that the town should move the gate back beyond the Dumptique, and give them some kind of lease or whatever, and let them operate the Dumptique there.”

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell asked how much the estimate was for fixing the wall. 

“The engineers who looked at it, who are the engineers we use there, have given us a repair quote of $110,000,” town administrator Jennifer Rand said.

“Crazy,” said selectman Kent Healy, who is a civil engineer.

“It’s just blocks,” Manter said.

“Well, they all have to be taken down,” Lowe said. “I mean, the wall is tipping.”

“All you have to do it push the blocks back,” Healy said.

“I’m not the engineer,” Lowe said. Lowe added the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has been on the town’s back for “years” to bring the transfer station into conformity with certain standards, and ”railings, paving, water collection” are among the upgrades the DEP is after. 

Johnson said there was an injury at the wall reported during the summer, “when an individual stepped in one of the gaps between the wall and one of the trash receptacles. That’s something we need to keep in mind.”

“That’s been a fear for a long time,” Mitchell said. 

Johnson later told The Times the individual reported twisting an ankle.

Rand said she would compile an overall cost for all upgrades needed at the station, and help the board of health write a warrant article for the annual town meeting. 

If the town opts to keep the station, the wall needs to be done “no matter what,” Lowe said. Other stuff, he noted, the town might be able to bypass spending money on. 

“I spend a lot of time over there,” Michael Colaneri said, as a volunteer at the Dumptique. “That local dropoff is used a lot. It services the need of pretty much everyone down that end of town who chooses to go to the local dropoff.”

Colaneri said Chilmark’s dropoff area is flat, and he questioned why West Tisbury needed a walled dropoff in the first place. 

In the end, the board took the matter under advisement. 

In other business, the board voted unanimously to allow Island Grown Initiative to hold a produce and egg market at Howes House during January and February Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. 

“A lot of our elder customers have said they’d like to be inside, and Howes House, to us, seemed like a really natural choice,” IGI staffer Olivia Rabbitt said. “It’s central, it’s right next to the library, and they also have resources there to actually be able to sign people up for food assistance programs right on site …”

“Going forward, it would run from July to the end of February,” Sophie Abrams said.