The Church Street Review Committee came before Edgartown selectmen Monday afternoon with an unbridled endorsement of a plan to install inductive chargers on Church Street by the Vineyard Transit Authority. The chargers would be used to power VTA electric buses. Committee member Mark Snider, owner of the Winnetu Resort, and committee member Doris Ward, the self-described “Mayor of Church Street,” spoke in support of the project. There was no deliberation between the committee and the board about the project and no debate among board members.
Snider, who is a member of the VTA advisory board, said he was drawn to the project because it encompassed “neighborhood concerns, historic sensitivity, pollution, and the role of public transportation in Edgartown.”
He outlined what the committee was tasked with.
“The select board charged the committee from the get-go to take a fresh look at whether inductive chargers should be installed on Church Street to facilitate all-electric VTA bus service,” he said. The committee was specifically charged not to consider locations other than Church Street or changes to the VTA’s schedules, routes, or sizes of buses. The committee consisted of nine members — a very active and wonderful committee.”
Snider said the committee was comprised of Dukes County commissioner Keith Chatinover, a resident of Edgartown’s historic district; Jane Chittick, another historic district resident (who resigned in September); Angie Gompert, VTA administrator (a non-voting participant); Julia Livingston, an Edgartown village resident and the vice chair and clerk of the committee; Sara Piazza (who resigned at the same time Chittick did); Alan Strahler, chair, and chair of the Edgartown energy committee; Bill Veno, senior planner at the MVC, and Doris Ward, a Church Street resident.
“In short,” he said, “the committee strongly supports the installation of three inductive bus chargers under Church Street in Edgartown. The inductive charger project has no cost to the town, will have an overall positive impact on the attractiveness of Church Street, and is essential to achieving all electric bus service for Martha’s Vineyard.”
Ward, who expressed her love of Church Street and the surrounding neighborhood, said the project would eliminate telephone poles, widen the street, and curb exhaust fumes. She said the project stands to “add to the street being much safer, much more workable, the surrounding area more beautiful, much healthier for us, and much more likely to win people over to take better care of it.”
Selectman Arthur Smadbeck thanked Ward for what he described as a “colorful” presentation and thanked the committee as a whole for its work.
“We’ll see you at town meeting,” he said.
The project is federally funded but is anticipated to be on the warrant for the 2021 annual town meeting. The reason behind this, according to Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty, is because the board wants the people of Edgartown to ratify the project after divided opinion about it emerged earlier this year. The board took no action on the committee’s recommendation.
Chittick, a vocal critic of the project, told the board she would be making her own presentation to them in the near future. Against the backdrop of a barking dog, Chittick said,
“It will be contrary to the official report or whatever you call it…”
On Tuesday, Hagerty told The Times he expects Chittick will come before the board on Nov. 23.
In other business, on the recommendation of Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee, the board voted unanimously to appoint Tyler Moreis as a year-round special police officer. McNamee said Moreis underwent an extensive background investigation. He described Moreis, who comes from the Aquinnah Police Department and has past experience as a tribal ranger, as “a score for the Edgartown Police Department.”
The board also voted unanimously to allow Chappy Ferry owner Peter Wells to affix a plaque on the Chappy Ferry flagpole in memory of the late Richard Knight and in tribute to the people of Chappaquiddick, who Knight served on the Chappy open space committee and the Land Bank Commission. Knight had also been a longtime member of the Edgartown ZBA.
Knight and Wells erected the flagpole, according to Hagerty.