The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank unanimously voted to continue the lease with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, and to study the Chappy Point Beach property and other possibilities. The Land Bank initially discussed the lease topic earlier this month, which caused disagreement about how the Land Bank should respond if the building was partially or fully damaged. This was a part of an annual review of the lease.
Edgartown commissioner Steve Ewing said the current lease is from 2020 to 2024. He also talked with the Shellfish Group and sifted through the lease and its documents. Ewing said the lease states the Land Bank “is willing to lease the beach house to the Shellfish Group … but with the understanding that the Land Bank’s ultimate goal, at some time in the future, is to remove all structures on the premises so as to renaturalize the premises and return them to undeveloped conditions.”
Additionally, Ewing said the shellfish business annually brings in nearly $4 million to Edgartown, and the Shellfish Group is a “considerable part of that function.” He “highly recommends” the Land Bank promote the Shellfish Group.
West Tisbury commissioner Peter Wells pointed out that the flood insurance the Shellfish Group is considering costs $8,000, and cannot build back the property if it were destroyed by a storm or flood.
Aquinnah commissioner Sarah Thulin said they should continue the lease. However, all of the commissioners should visit the site, and look for suitable areas if the Shellfish Group needed to move.
“I agree with Sarah,” Ewing said. “We should agree to continue and meet and discuss and help them down the road to figure out how to take care of themselves there, or if there is another piece of property that is suitable or better, somewhere else, too … we should encourage the Shellfish Group.”
Meanwhile, the commissioners unanimously approved changes to summer and ecology staff’s wages. In a seven-step pay scale, which went from $13.50 an hour at step one to $19.50 an hour at step seven, rangers and shorebird monitors earned $13.50 an hour, seasonal wildlife biology assistants earned $15.50 an hour, and 11-month wildlife biology interns earned $16.50 an hour. The interns have the highest pay because the Land Bank usually hires individuals with master’s degrees, who will go on to another job afterward. The proposed scale adjusts pay with a focus on the pay of the lower-level staff, because more of them are hired compared with the biology assistants or the interns. The new pay scale now gives wages of $14.25 an hour to rangers and shorebird monitors, $15.25 an hour to seasonal wildlife biology assistants, and interns earn $15.75 an hour.