Edgartown voters punt on bottle ban

Boys and Girls Club deal heads to the ballot box.


Edgartown voters wrapped up their socially distanced town meeting Saturday, approving the vast majority of articles. Voters agreed to part of a deal with the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, while shooting down a plastic bottle ban from the kids at Plastic Free MV.

The town meeting, which is usually held at the Whaling Church, was held beneath several tents outside the Edgartown School on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with chairs spaced apart to allow for social distancing. There were 210 voters in attendance.

The meeting began with Edgartown poet Steve Ewing reading “Pandemic, Prejudice, and the Pagoda Tree,” an original poem. Once voters got down to business, they agreed to spend $650,000 to purchase 4.67 acres of land from the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, to be used for the town’s new Westside Cemetery. The article must now be approved by voters at the ballot box on June 18 where, if the question is passed, the board of selectmen would be authorized to enact the terms and conditions of a memorandum of understanding with the club. The actions in this article are contingent upon whether a majority of voters vote in the affirmative on the ballot question that would allow the town to exceed its fiscal year 2021 tax levy with a Proposition 2½ capital exclusion — a temporary tax increase for one year.

During Saturday’s town meeting, there were close-call votes for two articles that required head counts.

The first was on a petition calling for another full, public review of the Vineyard Transit Authority charging station on Church Street in Edgartown.

The project has already been approved by the Edgartown historic district commission, and a study done by the MVC said the project would not have a negative impact on the area. The article seeking another review passed, 96-83.

Edgartown resident Sara Piazza, who held up large photos of VTA buses, said the VTA buses driving in Edgartown have “ruined the character of the town,” and called for re-evaluation of the project. She said she’s not against electric buses, but said there needs to be a more “creative solution.” Piazza has appeared at past meetings and discussion on the project, voicing her opposition.

Jane Chittick, who has also frequently voiced her opposition to the project, was against installing the induction chargers on Church Street, and asked for another review.

The second close-call vote was for the proposed bylaw by Plastic Free MV, to eliminate the use of disposable plastic water and soda bottles 34 ounces (roughly one liter) and under; it was indefinitely postponed by voters, 98-83. The bylaw, which was proposed to take effect May 1, 2021, was approved last year by Aquinnah, West Tisbury, and Chilmark. Voters in Tisbury approved the article at their town meeting, which was also held Saturday. Voters decided to indefinitely postpone the article due to the uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has caused for town businesses.

An article to ban nonpublic construction between 8 pm and 7 am on weekdays and Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day was approved by voters.

During the review of the town’s $39 million budget, Kat Monterosso, a member of the town’s energy committee, said the town should review the $3.2 million budget for the police department. “[Because of] the events happening across the country with the Black Lives Matter movement, I do think it is important we start examining why we’re spending $3.2 million on police salaries alone for a largely peaceful town,” Monterosso said, as some voters booed, and one yelled to pay the police more. “I believe that Edgartown should be part of the national discussion on defunding the police, and whether or not black lives matter.”

Police Chief Bruce McNamee spoke briefly with Monterosso after her request, and handed her a business card.

A set of three articles concerning the taking by eminent domain of land for roads near Ocean Heights was indefinitely postponed. 

The roads included in the article were Eighth Street North, 10th Street North, 17th Street North, 20th Street North, and 22nd Street North, all of which run along the Boulevard. 

Attorney Ben Hall Jr., as well as Alex Schaeffer, the town’s fire chief, who both own property in the area, said proper process was not followed for the eminent domain.

“As an abutter, I did not receive any formal notification of this article,” Schaeffer said. “I believe that there’s a process that should be followed to allow us all to have input, whether I agree or disagree with the further development of Ocean Heights, because I don’t believe the process is correct that’s being followed.”

Selectman Margaret Serpa thanked the town employees and voters for coming out to the meeting. “I want to thank everybody who helped put this together so we can meet here and accomplish what we have to do,” Serpa said.


  1. On the failed plastic bottle ban: it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing that a group of less than 100 people out of thousands of Edgartownians made such a disastrous decision that puts us squarely at odds with not only the rest of the island, but many scientists and experts as well. When people ask me, ‘how come more young folks like you don’t get involved in local politics,’ they should look at the completely uninspiring and brash reception that this request got today after years of hard work from young people to put this question on town warrants.

    • The decision is disappointing and frustrating, not disastrous. Those working on these important environmental issues are not giving up, so let’s not exaggerate, especially in the face of the disasters upon us. Disastrous is 115,000 Americans dead of Covid-19. Disastrous is over 2 million Americans infected with the disease and that these numbers are going up in over 20 states that have reopened with people failing to wear masks and social distance. And, for the tone-deaf who think this bill not passing in Edgartown is disastrous, disastrous is being tortured and murdered by a cop for passing a bad $20 bill.

  2. I would like to publicly thank Kat Monterosso for having the courage to stand before her community and ask that the police budget be re-examined in light of the murder of George Floyd and the national outcry over the never ending murder of black Americans at the hands of the police. The people who booed should be ashamed of themselves for not having the self-awareness to examine their own racism. While we live in a relatively peaceful community, we should be looking carefully at the money we spend on law enforcement. For example, the high school spends over $100,000 a year to the town of Oak Bluffs to have an officer in the school. Why is this necessary? Do we have a lawlessness problem at the high school that warrants the presence of a full-time police officer? Let’s have this difficult discussion with our police chief, the town leaders and the community. Booing…honestly. Grow up.

  3. I’m so sorry to have missed today’s town meeting. I can’t say I’m sorry that I missed fellow townspeople booing another person for having something to say.

  4. Wow and to think that Edgartown used to be the island town of civility. Keith, maybe you should examine your own judgement and stop calling opinions of others disastrous! Maybe years of hard work by kids is just what they needed since this generation up and coming seem to be the true silver spoon generation of our lifetime.

    • If by “silver spoon generation” you mean the generation that is saddled with the most student loan debt of all time, tasked with paying off the largest federal debt in history, will have come into maturity only after likely experiencing two massive economic recessions, must grapple with the failure of previous generations to tackle climate change, and is yet another beneficiary of stagnant wages and rising costs of living, then I guess we’re on the same page.

      • Keith- I think what the person meant by “silver spoon” was the fact that almost every kid over the age of 9 has a cell phone, ipad, computer (one of these if not all). They live in an instant gratification society. Most kids don’t experience the hardships of a generation or two ago, we are not in Vietnam or a Korea type war. The kids today don’t worry about being drafted by the service.
        When I was growing up, only the rich kids or the really smart ones (scholarships) were able to go to college, everyone else just had to find a job, it might not have been what you wanted but you got a job.
        Climate change…..yes, we could do better, the US is better than most other countries for combating this.
        I remember gas lines. I remember the years of record inflation.
        Don’t tell me these kids today have it worse and that it’s the “previous generations” fault.
        Plastic bottles?? Does anyone remember when you brought your glass bottles back to the grocery store??

  5. Perhaps we can focus on banning the sale of nip bottles next year. If you want to see the impact of these on the environment, take a walk down any random MV road and you are likely to find dozens discarded on the side of the road. Not only are they bad for the environment, but You have to think the drivers tossing them are likely OUI as well.

  6. How far removed are you from this generation? Because your “get off my lawn” comment shows how sadly out of touch you are. These kids working for a cleaner, safer, sustainable environment are trying to fix the mess the last 2 generations handed them. And now, they will also inherit a bankrupt economy and record unemployment. Keith, at the age of 18 ran for office and serves this community every single day. Im proud To know and work along side these future leaders.

  7. Virtue signaling in Edgartown at a town meeting is not a good look.
    After all the school shootings in the past, a police officer is in almost all the schools in the country.
    You don’t have to try to prove how righteous you are to stand with the foolish protesters. No one cares.

  8. Sounds like an awful town meeting. Shooting down electric buses and a plastic ban and booing someone for questioning the police budget. The elderly population who vote is so conservative, they don’t seem to care at all about the world they leave behind.

  9. Racism is not a good look for Edgartown. And if by virtue signaling you mean holding ourselves accountable for the misery we’ve inflicted on black people for 400 years, and questioning the militarization of police forces that are murdering black people in the streets, then guilty as charged. This is a white supremacy problem and white people need to fix it.

  10. As the police buget represents 8.2% of the total budget, it is certainly not too much to ask for a review of the goals and objectives of the police department and a review of the performance towards those objectives. Police departments around the world are going to undergo changes in their mission, strategies, merhods, objectives, and training. Edgartown PD should understand the debate and articulate how it applies or does not apply to them. It may mean that we need to spend more money on training or personnel. It may mean that we consider reducing police budgets (and burdens) and divert funding elsewhere. For such a considerable portion of the budget, this type of analysis should be normal course of business not just a reaction to current events.

  11. Edgartown police are magnificent over the decades. I feel safe and secure, having lived down in the middle of the village for decades and counting on the police, I think they are just fine the way they are. If you live in the village, fine; if you do not, please keep your nose out of my business and the business of the village. The plastic bottle ban was perhaps appropriate before the plague hit us; now, not a good idea. There are things we are having to put on hold for the good of everyone. We are all in this together; the virus makes no distinctions about coming to roost on a human body; we must act accordingly with the best information we currently have.

    • It wasn’t to enter into effect until May 2021 anyway, so that wasn’t a good excuse, in my opinion.

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