Edgartown selectmen avoid Plastic Free backlash

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Julia Celeste Tarka, a member of the Edgartown Board of Trade, asks Edgartown selectmen to consider an alternative to the Plastic Free MV plastic bottle ban. - George Brennan

Perhaps learning from their colleagues in Tisbury, the Edgartown board of selectmen rejected making any changes to a bylaw proposed by Plastic Free MV prior to approving the warrants for special and annual town meetings.

Julia Celeste Tarka, a member of the Edgartown Board of Trade, the town’s business association, told selectmen the board is split on the issue of the ban of single-use plastic and soda bottles under 34 ounces.

“We want to make sure the selectmen weren’t acting on a recommendation that was not given,” she said. She added that she didn’t want Edgartown to become a test case, given pushback in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury.

But selectmen said it was too late to make changes, and urged the board of trade to be vocal on town meeting floor and to propose something for next year’s town meeting.

“You guys should speak up at town meeting,” selectman Michael Donaroma said.

Margaret Serpa, the board’s chair, pointed out that the plastic bottle ban isn’t due to go into effect until May 2021.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck suggested the board of trade could propose something “when the smoke clears.”

Moments later, without talking about any of the specific 96 articles, selectmen unanimously approved the warrants for special and annual town meetings, scheduled for April 14.

In other business, selectmen approved 11 members for the Chappy Ferry steering committee. The committee was prompted by unrest on Chappaquiddick about pricing and other issues surrounding operation of the ferry that links them to Edgartown.

The following members were appointed: Rick Biros, Bill Brine, John Dropkick, Dick Knight, Rick Shifter, Dana Strayton, Tom Tilghman, and Pete Getsinger as an alternate. Peter Wells, Sally Snipes and James Hagerty are ex-officio members. Wells and Snipes are co-owners of Chappy Ferry.

Hagerty said he will seek guidance from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office about whether the steering committee has to follow the state’s Open Meeting Law in posting meetings and taking minutes. Hagerty said he would reach out to members with dates and times of meetings.

In answer to one of the members, selectmen said members would not be allowed to vote or deliberate in meetings remotely.

The board reappointed selectman Arthur Smadbeck to Healthy Aging M.V.’s advisory council.

Selectmen approved the second annual Chappy Point to Point Road Race on June 28, but told race organizer Rich Shifter they could not act on a proposal to serve beer to race participants until he applies for a liquor license.