The health of Island waterways and fees necessary to protect them will top the list at the annual Tisbury town meeting this Tuesday evening when voters tackle two full warrants. Both the annual and special town meetings are being held on the same night due to problems reaching a quorum last year for the special town meeting agenda. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Tisbury School gymnasium. Deborah Medders will moderate.
Voters are asked to weigh in on a 35-item annual meeting warrant and a 21-article special warrant, including a proposal to design and construct a new wastewater leaching facility. The request is part of a larger plan to mitigate nitrogen flow into Lake Tashmoo and Lagoon Pond as part of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project. The article was submitted by the department of public works, the Tisbury selectmen and the wastewater committee. Department of Public Works director Fred LaPiana and wastewater committee member Melinda Loberg discussed the proposal at this week’s selectmen’s meeting. A presentation also will be given at the town meeting, when the finance committee will present its recommendations for the project.
The town of Tisbury is responsible for restricting nitrogen output into both embayments, in addition to reducing current levels of the element. Septic is the primary source of nitrogen, Mrs. Loberg said, which requires the wastewater system to increase capacity in order to treat the amount of wastewater needed to reduce nitrogen output. There are currently two leaching fields in use by the DPW, Mr. LaPiana said, but they are a choke point and cannot accommodate more flow.
The new facility would be a 100-foot deep, two-foot-wide column drilled just off West William street, providing leaching capacity by vertical means as opposed to the traditional clear-cut leach field. A similar process has been implemented in Hingham and Fairhaven. Treated water from the wastewater plant would travel to the leach column, where it would be released back into the environment via groundwater. Current treatment methods at the plant do not remove all nitrogen; however, the site of the proposed facility is situated outside the watershed boundaries for both Tashmoo and the lagoon, so the water would not circulate back into the ponds.
The project will cost approximately $990,000, Mr. LaPiana said at Tuesday’s meeting, but that cost will be funded by borrowing against the current sewer plant revenues.
“We’re not going to ask the taxpayer for any [additional] money to do this,” he said, adding that the DPW was working on obtaining additional funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to further reduce project cost.
The health of Tisbury waterways also will be addressed in a $500,000 dredging article, which seeks to borrow funds to finance projects in the Vineyard Haven harbor and the Lake Tashmoo channel. Tashmoo is typically dredged every two years, dredge committee member Nevin Sayre told the Gazette, but the large winter storms over the past several months necessitate another go.
The small entrance to the Vineyard Haven harbor would also be cleared. The entrance is not a natural harbor, Mr. Sayre said, and periodically fills in with sand. It was last dredged in 1997.
“When that small entrance closes, you don’t have circulation in the harbor,” he said.
Sand from both projects would be used to restore two of the three public beaches in Tisbury, at Owen Little Way and Grove Avenue.
The second part of a project to rehabilitate the standpipe on High Point Lane appears on the annual warrant as well, as an $850,000 borrowing article. Last year, town voters approved the construction of a second water storage tank next to the existing one. Once that is complete, water superintendent Paul Wohler said on Thursday, the current standpipe can be sandblasted, cleaned, painted and brought up to code. Standpipes are typically rehabilitated every 15 to 25 years, Mr. Wohler said.
“You need a second tank for redundancy,” he said. “If we didn’t have a second tank then we’d be relying on system pressure, which is balky and reduces system capacity, [making] a fire safety hazard.”
The existing standpipe holds 1.2 million gallons of water. The new tank will be smaller, at 350,000 gallons, but will be elevated, “so all its volume will be usable,” Mr. Wohler said.
Voters also will be asked to borrow $1.3 million to fund construction of a connector road linking Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road to Holmes Hole Road. The connector road article returns to the warrant and to the Tisbury town election ballot after being defeated 101-97 on the town meeting floor last year.
Last year the total requested for the connector road was $3 million; this year both the amount and the scale of the project have been reduced, Mr. LaPiana said.
“Last year we proposed the full project; it was obvious to us as we went through that process that the town really didn’t have the money to go through with that,” he said on Thursday. The current proposal is for the first leg of the project, which would eventually include paths to High Point Lane and Evelyn Way. A water main along the proposed route was completed last year, Mr. LaPiana said.
The article received split recommendation from the finance and advisory committee, with three members voting for and three against the project. It received no recommendations from the capital programs subcommittee. The connector road is also the lone question on the Tisbury town election ballot.
The town will vote on $243,500 in appropriations from embarkation fee revenues, including $100,000 for repairs to Hurricane Sandy damage at the Owen Park dock, $55,000 for summer traffic officers, $28,000 for a new Crown Victoria police vehicle, and $13,000 for beautification improvements to the downtown area. The revenues, derived from a Steamship Authority surcharge, are intended to be used to mitigate the impacts of ferry service on the town.
Voters will be asked to spend over $650,000 — the largest total appropriation on the warrant — toward the usage of Community Preservation Funds. The funds would finance 22 different projects ranging from restoring the stained glass windows of the historic Stone Church building to continued restoration of the Tashmoo Spring building. Other appropriations would be used to finance two archiving projects, one at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and one at the Tisbury Town Hall, and to create a new public park at the Nathan Mayhew Seminars building.
The amount also includes $278,000 in appropriations for affordable housing projects, including $100,000 toward the completion of the Lake Street Community Housing Project, $50,000 toward construction of a Habitat for Humanity projects and $58,000 toward the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority’s Rental Assistance Program.
All six towns will vote on a CPC appropriation toward the ongoing restoration of the exterior windows at the Dukes County Courthouse. Tisbury’s share of the cost is $13,975. In order for the courthouse project to move forward, all towns must approve the appropriation.
The finance committee voted in unanimous approval of the courthouse project, but voted 8-0 against Article 21, which would appropriate $36,5444 from an unreserved fund toward architectural fees for design of a new superintendent’s building.
The special town meeting warrant includes an amendment to the town’s bylaws prohibiting public consumption of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol, and placing a temporary moratorium on the development of medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries. These articles are also present on the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown special town meeting warrants.
Voters will be asked at the special town meeting to weigh in on a bylaw concerning loose farm animals, authorize a 0.75 per cent sales tax on restaurant meals, and increase the excise tax on hotels and lodging.
The proposed Tisbury town operating budget for fiscal year 2014 increases by $632,824, just over 3 per cent, over that of FY2013 for a total of $21,480,032. Last year saw a 5 per cent increase in the budget.
There are no contested races on this year’s ballot, and several races with no candidates at all, town clerk Marion Mudge said on Tuesday. The town election will be held on April 30, a week later than its usual date, in order to coincide with the Massachusetts state primary election.