Chilmark’s most diehard scallopers will have a chance to increase the bushel limit in exchange for some community service.
Menemsha seafood retailer Karsten Larsen convinced selectmen at a meeting Tuesday to raise the small pond limits from two to three bushels a day, arguing that those ponds are oversubscribed with small scallops which would die in a freeze and potentially damage the pond bed.
The amended regulations require Quitsa Pond scallopers to deliver four fish totes of substandard size scallops to the town landing, to spread them in Menemsha Pond where the scallops are more likely to survive, in exchange for the additional bushel.
The ruling is an attempt to address the three concerns of dramatically lowered scallop prices, the relative scarcity of scallops in Menemsha Pond and the potential overcrowding of the small bodies of water. But town administrator Tim Carroll said yesterday that they probably stand to affect only the most dedicated scallopers, prepared to brave the weather long enough to collect the four totes of small scallops, the equivalent of roughly eight bushels.
Nevertheless Mr. Larsen was convinced the regulation would provide a much-needed financial boost.
“With the price so low by the time I fuel up my boat and everything I’m not even making 90 bucks for six hours of work,” he said, adding: “You know what I mean? A beach attendant is making more money than me just sitting there on the beach.”
Though scallop numbers are relatively low in Menemsha Pond the smaller, market-ready scallops in Quitsa Pond are plentiful.
“Most of these scallops are going to die this year. If we can just get a handful of them to live and re-spawn this year that might open up the whole thing and have a good scallop season in the future,” Mr. Larsen said, adding: “There are only a few of us that really fished eight or nine years ago, but I remember the year that they were really thick up there. They were as thick as they are now. And what happened was when it finally did freeze, we had a massive die off. Well, for some reason I don’t know if it was the shell on the bottom or the meat that fermented but we didn’t have another scallop season for about three or four years after that.”
In other news, the search is on for a police chief to replace Timothy Rich, who will retire in July after 30 years as chief in the town. Selectmen drafted an advertisement which they will look to place in the monthly Massachusetts municipalities magazine, The Beacon.
The advertisement calls for at least five years experience supervising municipal employees. “The new chief will build profound respect among our small town’s diverse constituencies,” reads the posting, “and will understand ‘keeping the peace’ is paramount.”
The advertised salary range for the position is $66,000 to $84,000. Applications may be obtained from the personnel board.
Selectman Frank Fenner predicted the town will be inundated with applications, the reasoning behind an extended culling process for the position: they will review all applications, then one selectman will privately interview candidates from a short list. All three selectmen will then interview finalists in public session.
The deadline for applications is March 2.
The Home Port restaurant is scheduled to change hands this year from current owners Will and Madeline Holtham to Robert and Sarah Nixon, who also own the Menemsha Inn and the Beach Plum Inn. But Mr. Fenner and selectman J.B. Riggs Parker have some questions about the purchase.
Mr. Fenner, who owns The Galley restaurant in Menemsha near the Home Port, said the recent private sale of a lot previously used by the Holthams as additional employee parking space may further crowd an already busy Mememsha in the summer.
Reading from a written statement, Mr. Fenner also said he was under the impression that the Nixons had agreed to discuss the possibility of allowing town access to the waterline on the property, and to confirm continued public use of the Home Port parking lot in the daytime.
Mr. Fenner also said it is possible that part of the restaurant’s septic system lies on town land.
The Home Port property came before town voters twice for purchase, with both proposals spearheaded by Mr. Parker.
“I know the board of health will be dealing mainly with the septic system and they’ll go on the gallons flow and capacity and all that but the location and possible release are an issue,” Mr. Fenner said.
He also bought up hours of operation.
The Nixons signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Holthams which went into effect once voters passed up their second chance to buy the restaurant.
According to Mr. Fenner, the Chilmark board of health informed the Nixons that they would require approval from the selectmen before they are granted permission to operate the restaurant.
Selectmen will ask the Nixons to attend a February meeting for an update.
They also voted to appoint Chilmark electrician William Bennett to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, noting his business experience.
“He’s a very knowledgeable business person on the Island and I think that’s a very important aspect for the commission to begin to pay more attention to, if our economy fails,” said Mr. Parker, who moved the appointment.