MV Agricultural Society’s 2022 schedule approved

Voters will be asked to back non-binding question about nuclear waste.

The MV Agricultural Society got its list of events approved by the West Tisbury select board. — Rich Saltzberg

The 2022 schedule for the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society was unanimously approved by the West Tisbury select board Wednesday, Feb. 2, albeit reluctantly by select board chair Skipper Manter. 

The Agricultural Society submitted an extensive list of events they have planned for 2022, such as weddings, artisans fairs, and other activities. West Tisbury town administrator Jeniffer Rand said a review committee, which consists of herself, the West Tisbury conservation committee, the building inspector, and Vineyard Conservation Society, looked over the list and approved it to go before the board. Rand said the list was similar to those from previous years.

Manter was not in favor of the number of events the Agricultural Society has planned. 

“Looking at this list … it seems like an awful lot of events on a piece of residential property,” Manter said. “I don’t believe I voted for one of these approvals yet.”

In previous years, Manter has made his objections known and abstained from the vote. But with a two-member board after the death of select board member Kent Healy, Manter had to make a choice.

West Tisbury select board member Cynthia Mitchell made a motion to approve the list since it is “basically identical to the prior year.”

Rand said that a “year or two ago” when town counsel was present, Manter said he would not bring up this issue again. Mitchell pointed out that now that there are only her and Manter on the board, they are facing “a practical problem.” Manter said he did not want to “compromise his beliefs,” although he would go along with it by not voting. 

Lauren Lynch, the new executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, said the list has not changed and is basically the same as last year’s events.

“What happens now?” Mitchell asked.

“Let me think a minute,” Manter replied. 

After some back and forth, Manter decided to second the motion to approve the list of events.

“Putting my personal opinion aside, looking out for the best of the town and the Agricultural Society — One time only…I’ll vote yes,” Manter said.

In other news, the board unanimously approved Ann Rosenkranz’s request for a non-binding ballot question. Rosenkranz gathered 10 signatures for the ballot question asking for Holtec International, owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, decommissioned in 2019,  not to discharge nuclear waste into Cape Cod Bay. Federal leaders from Massachusetts — Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as U.S. Rep. Bill Keating — also expressed opposition to Holtec dumping nuclear waste water into the bay in a letter they wrote in January.

“When evaluating the proper method of disposal, Holtec must consider the public’s concerns surrounding and perception of the release of irradiated material into Cape Cod, especially when viable alternatives are available,” the letter reads. 

Rosenkranz said she has attended two meetings about the issue. “Everyone in both meetings were very adamant that Holtec not dump this water. Tritium cannot be filtered, it’s bioaccumulative, it will affect the bottomfeeders, the shellfish beds…around Duxbury and [Plymouth], the 60 some odd right whales that are in the area,” Rosenkranz said. “I will say one thing. Holtec has assured us they will not dump any of this water. It’s actually 100 million gallons, into Cape Cod Bay in 2022.”

Rosenkranz mentioned alternative methods Holtec could use to dispose of the nuclear waste, such as trucking it out to safer sites or to evaporate the water (although this is not ideal because of precipitation). Additionally, she said that because the water has been cooling the nuclear plant’s fuel rods, other unknown chemicals may be in the waste water, such as cesium. 

“I can’t see why anyone would vote not to resolve that they not dump this water,” Rosenkranz said. “It’s the most expedient and less expensive way for Holtec to get rid of this water, and let’s not do it.” 

The board agreed this was a public issue and should go forward. Rosenkranz said she is working on getting approval from other Island towns. 

The board unanimously approved making an exploratory committee about the implementation of municipal broadband for the town. Three volunteers are being sought for this committee.