Chilmark is looking to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the town center, which will be able to charge a vehicle fully in about 40 minutes.
During a Tuesday meeting of the board of selectmen, Chilmark energy committee chair Rob Hannemann said EVs have now reached a tipping point, where General Motors, Toyota, Ford, and many other major manufacturers are all producing them, and some have even pledged to go fully electric within the next two decades.
By 2025, he expects there will be at least 1,000 electric vehicles on the Vineyard. Chilmark is the only Island town without a charging station.
Hannemann said there is a state grant available for rapid chargers that would be publicly owned by municipalities, and made available for use by any citizen who owns an EV.
At the start of the conversation, it was made clear that the charging stations would be located at the center of town, but the question arose of where to put the specific parking spots, and whether to designate them as EV-only parking.
Additionally, Eversource offers the Make Ready program, where they work to put in the internal infrastructure required for the charger, while the state incentive program pays 100 percent of the costs to install the equipment itself.
The deadline to apply for that program is March 19, Hannemann said, but he stressed that the grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and waiting until the last minute may diminish the chances to receive funding.
Although most EV owners have chargers in their residences, Hannemann explained, most of those chargers are not rapid chargers, so certain vehicles take long periods of time to fully charge.
But in emergency situations, and for seasonal visitors who don’t have access to their own charger, he said, a public station is essential. “Fast charging is what’s needed here,” he said.
Hannemann suggested having chargers at the Emergency Services area, and said it would behoove the town to have one or two chargers at the town community center.
He asked for guidance from selectmen as to where they think the chargers should be placed.
Board of selectmen chair Bill Rossi said the Chilmark School and the Post Office would be two “great spots” for chargers, because there is ample parking, which would mitigate traffic and parking problems in the busy summer months.
Chilmark energy committee member Mike Jacobs said one of the spaces has to be handicapped-accessible, in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Each space would also have to have signage stating that the parking is for EV drivers only, although a number of selectmen noted that EV charging spaces in other Island towns don’t have signage that limits parking.
Selectman Warren Doty voiced concern over having the spots at the Community Center, and added that no matter where the spots go, the board would have to consult with the interested groups before making a decision to list those locations in the grant application.
Selectman Jim Malkin agreed, and said the matter would have to be addressed with the appropriate committees, such as the library, the school, the community center, and the police and fire departments.
In other business, members of the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank gave a presentation on the group, laying out its goals, and how they are aiming to achieve those goals.
Co-chair of the coalition Julie Fay said the group is composed of about 60 people, with 12 or 13 volunteers on a steering committee. One of the subcommittees in that steering group is a design committee, which will work to establish what a housing bank might look like.
Fay said she and other coalition members are talking with each of the town boards of selectmen, planning boards, and affordable housing committees, to gather info and get a better understanding as to where people sit with respect to this matter. The housing bank would be modeled on the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, which uses a 2 percent transfer fee on real estate transactions.
Legislatively, the group is attempting to establish a transfer fee on real estate sales on Martha’s Vineyard, with the goal of bringing in around $5 million per year, to be used for affordable and stable housing initiatives.
Next fall, the coalition hopes to establish warrant articles for town meetings in the spring of 2022.
Coalition campaign coordinator Laura Silber said she is asking Chilmark selectmen to designate a board member to represent the town in the coalition.
Doty volunteered for the position, and was unanimously appointed by his fellow selectmen.
Town considers adding Juneteenth as employee holiday
Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the U.S. every year on June 19.
It is currently designated as a state holiday by Gov. Charlie Baker.
The Chilmark human resources board recommended establishing this day as a holiday for town employees, and although selectmen voiced their combined support, they wondered whether a public hearing would be necessary before making the decision.
Doty said he endorses the idea, but wants to put the decision off to look at all the personnel and budget implications.
“If it falls on a Saturday, does that mean you get Monday off? We need to have a conversation about how this affects our employees,” he said.
Town administrator Tim Carroll noted that because Juneteenth is a state holiday, he believes the town could simply adopt it as an employee holiday.