Aquinnah creates housing trust

Town meeting voters also funded repairs to buildings, beaches, and Community Preservation projects.

Aquinnah officials address the voters at annual town meeting. —Daniel Greenman

Aquinnah residents created an affordable housing trust fund at town meeting on Tuesday, along with passing a budget of more than $7 million, and approving over $700,000 in Community Preservation funding requests.

The Aquinnah affordable housing trust fund will aim to help provide housing for households with an income below 175 percent of Duke’s County’s area median income.

The trust will have five members appointed by the town select board. They will include one member from the select board, two from the town affordable housing committee, one from the town finance advisory committee, and a member-at-large.

Town meeting moderator Mike Hebert said Tuesday that approving the fund is a necessary step to ultimately creating the Island-wide Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank.

Hebert led a packed town hall through 20 warrant articles on Tuesday night. Voters cast their decisions electronically, via remote devices.

Over $700,000 in Community Preservation funds were approved, including for the Carl Widdiss Way Apartments, restoration of the Gay Head Light, and restoration and display of artifacts at the Aquinnah Cultural Center. 

The Carl Widdiss Way Apartments, which broke ground near town hall last August, are complete, and will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 29 at 4 pm.

Voters also passed Article 7, to use $250,000 of available town funds for repairs to town buildings, including the town hall, fire station, and comfort station at Aquinnah Circle.

Voters also approved Article 14, to transfer $50,000 from the town waterways fund to dredge West Basin Harbor, which was partly filled in with sand by several strong storms last winter.

Article 1 was saved for Thursday, when Aquinnah voters will cast their ballots in the town election. Positions to be filled include a three-year select board position, a three-year planning board spot, and a two-year term for town clerk. The select board race is contested, between incumbent Tom Murphy and newcomer Jannette Vanderhoop. (See our story on page A7.)

Aquinnah voters reached after the meeting thought that it went well. 

“Very smooth, not controversial,” said Mary Shriber, who said that she was interested in the creation of the housing trust fund. “It’s nice to see the town’s in agreement on all these things we do.”

Taylor Ives said that he is in favor of any effort to address housing needs. “Anything benefiting affordable housing,” Ives said.