Special Town Meeting Set in Chilmark


Harbor repairs, health insurance for firefighters, extending the town building cap and a plan to lease out town property for a community swimming pool will all come before Chilmark voters at a special town meeting Monday night.

Set to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Chilmark Community Center, the warrant includes 10 articles. Moderator Everett Poole will preside over the special session.

In the only big-ticket item on the warrant, voters will be asked to spend up to $750,000 to repair the filled dock in Menemsha and to build floating and concrete docks. The drive-on dock along the western edge of the harbor has been eroding for a number of years and needs a large-scale renovation.

Other repair articles include a request for $14,000 to grade and pave the parking lot at the new Chilmark police station, located at the former Menemsha School, and $25,000 to repair the Squibnocket Beach parking lot.

Debate is expected over a proposal to lease out a portion of 26 town-owned acres at Peaked Hill for a community swimming pool. The proposal comes from the Chilmark Town Affairs Council, which operates the Chilmark Community Center.

Selectmen have already heard some dissent from town residents on the proposed pool plan, ranging from safety concerns to concerns about noise and traffic.

The town bought the Peaked Hill Pastures property in 1987. Designated for recreational use, the land currently has a ball field and a highway shed on it. Two youth lots have also been developed at the site. The town affairs council wants to build an olympic-sized pool and facilities for summer swimming programs.

Voters will also be asked to extend a three-year town building cap that was enacted in November of 2002. Intended to cap the rate of growth in town through limits on new construction, expansions and renovations, the cap limits building permits to 18 per year. Voters will decide if the building cap should be extended for an additional three years. The article includes some new language in the section of the bylaw that pertains to tear-down renovations. The language is intended to prevent homeowners from using a permit for a renovation to rebuild an entire house.

Voters will be asked to spend $13,750 to have Chilmark participate in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project, a state initiative to study and collect water quality data on estuaries throughout the commonwealth. The money represents a one-third town share for the three-year project. West Tisbury, which shares the pond, also participates in the estuaries project.

Voters will also decide whether to accept a state act allowing Chilmark volunteer firefighters and Tri-Town Ambulance personnel to buy into the town health insurance program at 100 per cent cost to the personnel. Chilmark firefighter Steve Gallas presented the request to selectmen as a way for rescue personnel to buy affordable insurance. West Tisbury has adopted a similar plan.

A copy of the special town meeting warrant is available at the Chilmark town hall or on the town web site at www.ci.chilmark.ma.us/.