Committee formed for Peaked Hill RFP

Town opts out of state mosquito spraying.

The Chilmark select board plans to create a five-member committee for the Peaked Hill Pastures request for proposal. — courtesy Town of Chilmark

The Chilmark select board created a five-member request for proposals (RFP) committee for a future affordable housing development at Peaked Hill Pastures.

The committee will consist of two planning board members, a housing committee member, and two members of the public. The planning board will appoint two members, one of whom will chair, the housing committee will appoint one of their members, and Valerie Sonnethal and John Keene will round out the committee.

“I am in total support of anything that helps to maintain an ability for people to live on the Island and work within and contribute to our Island community,” Keene’s letter said in part. “The complexities that are associated with creating affordable housing are far-reaching and possess a plethora of emotions.”

The committee came about after the board received several letters from town residents expressing interest in forming a committee.

Voters approved the Peaked Hill Pastures housing development concept at town meeting last month. The development will consist of 10 rental units, two “turnkey” owner units, and two “u-build” homesites.

Board member Bill Rossi said if the committee can be put together in a week, he didn’t see why a drafted RFP couldn’t be put together later this month.

Board member Warren Doty said it was important to charge the committee with the guidelines defined at town meeting. “It’s not going back and debating how many units of this, how many units of that. I think we’ve debated that, and we have guidelines, so this committee needs to stay inside those guidelines,” Doty said.

In other business, the board unanimously voted to opt out of mosquito control spraying conducted by the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board. 

Health agent Marina Lent told the board there have been comments for a long time from town residents that aerial spraying is “not appropriate” in the town.

“We have organic farms that are certified organic, for whom it is a huge big deal to risk this, and we have farms that make great efforts to minimize their use of toxic pesticides,” she said.

Part of the opt-out choice requires the town to submit its own mosquito management plan, which the board approved on April 20.

Lent told The Times in a text message that the state conducts mosquito spraying when risk levels reach certain metrics, but that’s been rarely, if ever, seen on the Island.

“In particular this applies to Triple E, because this is a super-dangerous disease. We never have reached these levels, or even come close, anywhere on the Island. I cannot even recall having seen an EEE-positive mosquito pool in the past years,” Lent wrote.

The board recognized Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw for being awarded accreditation as fire chief in Massachusetts. Bradshaw participated in the voluntary accreditation process administered by the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission.

Board members praised Bradshaw. “He’s done a fantastic job, and I think the whole town’s proud of him,” Rossi said.

Following the annual town meeting and election, the board set its officers, with board member Jim Malkin as chair, Rossi as vice chair, and Doty as clerk.