Aquinnah selectmen approved leases for six lots in the West Basin area of Menemsha this week, inking an actual contract for the first time since 2007
Leases for Lynn Murphy, Hugh Taylor, Hollis Smith, Wendy Swolinzky and Buddy Vanderhoop will go into effect starting July 1 for five years at a cost of $500 annually, up $50 from previous years, with the option to renew for an additional five years. All the leaseholders run commercial fishing operations or charter businesses out of the area.
The selectmen also approved a one-year lease for Camille Rose with an option to renew for an additional four years. Ms. Rose has not used her lot for the last several years, and the selectmen said it wasn’t fair to the three commercial fishermen on the waiting list for her to hold a lot not in use. Ms. Rose wrote to the selectmen and said she planned to begin using her shack this summer to run a bait shop. She bought the shack in 1975 and for 25 years operated a commercial fishing business with her late husband Alfred Vanderhoop.
“That building should be a viable business to the leaseholder, that’s out of fairness to people who would like to have that lease,” selectman Jim Newman said.
Mr. Murphy’s wife Susan thanked the selectmen for drawing up the contract.
“It has been no man’s land for a lot of years and I welcome the fact you have taken the bull by the horns and had this meeting,” she said. “This is going to be a big difference.”
In other business, the selectmen approved hiring David Murphy as a special police officer in the Aquinnah police department; Mr. Murphy hopes to become a full-time officer upon completion of training at the police academy in the fall. He worked for the Dukes County sheriff’s department for 17 years and has served in the U.S. Army. He will replace Ryan Ruley who recently took a job with the Edgartown police department. With Mr. Murphy, the Aquinnah police force will have a staff of four.
“I look forward to meeting the people of Aquinnah and making myself available to them,” Mr. Murphy said.