Aquinnah finds a sticky situation

Several appointments are made; select board approves the high school funding formula.

Aquinnah has had some issues with skiffs at Red Beach in West Basin. — Eunki Seonwoo

Updated 2:29 pm

The Aquinnah select board asked for better communication from Aquinnah harbormaster and shellfish warden Brian (“Chip”) Vanderhoop regarding boat permits during a Tuesday meeting. 

“There [were] a number of people who talked about the skiffs at Red Beach, the number of skiffs at Red Beach [in West Basin], and the number that did not have permits on them,” board member Tom Murphy said. “We have a lot of paddleboards.” 

Vanderhoop said he talked to the skiff permit distributor, who said these would not be sold until the mooring permits were available. Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison interjected, saying the mooring permits have been available for a week as of the meeting. 

“Chip, can I just ask you, please, to check in with us on occasion?” Madison said. “Last week, every single day, we had seven or eight people, I’m not exaggerating at all, walking in here and … looking for some kind of a permit.” 

Madison also said other boat owners came in saying they paid for but didn’t receive a permit, so he allowed these people to be given permits. 

“I don’t think anybody’s coming in here misrepresenting that they paid, who haven’t paid,” he said. As an example, Madison said, boat rental business owner Wendy Swolinzsky asked him, “Why should I pay when I counted 50 other boats down there that have not paid?” 

“They probably paid, but they haven’t come up to pick them up,” Vanderhoop said, saying he has a notebook listing all of the people who paid mooring fees and paid for skiff permits. Vanderhoop said he receives the checks and makes a schedule of payments to the town treasurer, which he then writes down in the notebook and shares with the appropriate employees. 

Madison said the lack of communication was an issue for him as the town administrator when people go to town hall to look for Vanderhoop. 

“You’ve been doing it for so long, they’re looking for you. And I’ve tried to call you, I’ve asked you to come in … and we never see you, and that becomes a problem just administratively, and it’s embarrassing when people come up three days in a row,” Madison said. 

“I will come in periodically and see how it’s going,” Vanderhoop said after some more discussion. 

Circling back to the stickerless skiffs, board member Gary Haley asked what should be done about the vessels. Vanderhoop said he will ask people on his list of permit buyers to pick up their permit stickers to slap onto their skiffs. 

“So, everyone down there should have a sticker,” Murphy said. “What happens if there’s a boat down there, a skiff down there with no sticker on it? Do they get a ticket like an overparked car?”

“I can remove them,” Vanderhoop replied.

“There’s probably a lot of them down there without stickers. You’re not going to have storage for all of them,” Murphy said. 

Board chair Juli Vanderhoop suggested exploring another storage or organization system for the dinghies and skiffs without disturbing the shellfish and eelgrass in the area too much. Madison suggested using a rack, similar to Tisbury’s Owen Park Beach area. 

“Why don’t you form a little committee?” Aquinnah conservation commission member Kathy Newman asked.

The board members agreed that forming a committee would be beneficial to figure out how to expand boat storage at West Basin while conserving the wildlife in the area. No vote was taken for this consensus. 

In other business, the board signed a three-year police chief contract with Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain, and also signed a patrolman contract. According to the contract, Belain will be receiving a salary of $158,729 alongside some reimbursable expenses like up to $3,500 for professional development. The patrolman contract has the same details as the one reviewed in December. Police officers receive between $66,240 and $86,434 a year in 2022 and sergeants receive a 2022 rate of between $75,857 to $99,389 a year alongside some reimbursable expenses, such as uniform and equipment replacement.

The board unanimously approved numerous appointments, including Jim Glavin as the Aquinnah representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Resources Recovery District and Forrest Filler as the Aquinnah representative to Cape Light Compact. The board agreed to hold off on making an appointment for the projects committee until they have had a discussion with the committee. The board also did not appoint a member of the Aquinnah Fire Department because of his vaccination status. Aquinnah requires town employees to be fully vaccinated, including booster shots. 

The board unanimously approved the high school funding formula after receiving an update from Aquinnah finance committee chair Allen Rugg.

Updated with information about the contracts.