Aquinnah prepares for town meeting

Voters packed the Aquinnah town hall meeting last year. — Dena Porter

As the Aquinnah town meeting approaches on May 14, town officials and residents are preparing for votes on 20 articles covering affordable housing, community preservation, dredging to combat erosion, and repairs to town buildings.

Town meeting will be held at Aquinnah Town Hall at 7 pm on May 14. 

During that Tuesday meeting, the matter of establishing an Aquinnah affordable housing trust fund will be put to voters. “[This fund is] to provide for the creation and preservation of affordable housing in the town for the benefit of low- and moderate-income households,” Article 15 reads.

Article 16, which also deals with the trust, states that the fund may help provide housing for households with income below 175 percent of the area median income for Dukes County. The trust is also to keep a record of its activities, and report each year to the select board and annual town meeting.

Article 16 also states that the fund’s board of trustees will have five members, all to be appointed by the town select board. The committee will be made of one member of the town select board, two of the town housing committee, one of the town finance advisory committee, and one member-at-large.

Article 14 concerns erosion at West Basin, which was impacted by a series of heavy storms in December and January. The article asks to transfer $50,000 from the town waterways fund to dredge the entrance to West Basin Harbor.

“We really need to dredge the entrance to West Basin,” town administrator Jeffrey Madison explained in January, “because it’s not sufficient now for boat passage at all times.”

The town will also be looking to repair its town hall, fire station, and town comfort station at Aquinnah Circle. Article 7 asks whether the town can take $250,000 from available funds for the work.

More than $700,000 in Community Preservation funding will also be up to voters in Articles 17 through 20. Projects include the Carl Widdis Way Apartments; restoration of the Gay Head Light; the restoration and display of artifacts at the Aquinnah Cultural Center; and construction costs for the town center playground, pathways, and basketball court.

Question 1 atop the warrant also requests an additional assessment of $330,000 in property taxes in order to fund Up-Island and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School District department budgets for fiscal year 2024.

The town meeting warrant is available on the main page of the town’s website. Aquinnah will hold its town election on May 16, two days later.