A new $2.8 million police station, several affordable housing initiatives and a watershed study for the much-debated Mill Pond will top the warrant when West Tisbury voters convene for their annual town meeting Tuesday.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium of the West Tisbury School. Moderator F. Patrick Gregory will preside over the session; there are 37 articles on the warrant.
On the drawing board for nearly two years, the police station is the largest spending article this year. If the project is approved on the town meeting floor, a corresponding ballot question to exempt the debt from the provisions of Proposition 2 1/2 must also be approved at the annual town election Thursday.
The new station is planned to be built at the public safety complex in North Tisbury. The current station is housed in a 1,500-square-foot building at the entrance to town on the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Plans call for a 5,600 square-foot building with office space, an interview room, access to the fire department’s training room, and space for the animal control officer and emergency manager. Building committee chairman Norman Perry said Thursday that he expects the $2.8 million cost estimate will be lowered on the town meeting floor. Sealed construction bids for the project are in and will be opened Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. in the town hall.
Voters approved the final design phase for the new station in November.
The station has the backing of two of the three town selectmen, including board chairman Cynthia Mitchell. Mrs. Mitchell said it may seem like a large amount of money but because the borrowing is done over time, she called it “well within bounds” for the town.
Beyond the police station question, Mrs. Mitchell said the annual town meeting this year “looks like a very manageable agenda.”
Voters will review and take action on a $14.7 million annual town operating budget, up about two per cent over last year. A two per cent cost of living increase is planned for town employees. School spending totals $8.5 million and the public safety budget totals $1.7 million.
A package of affordable housing articles is topped by a $242,000 request from the nonprofit Island Housing Trust for three new affordable apartments at Sepiessa Point, where there are currently four units. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved the expansion as a development of regional impact in November. If voters agree, the construction money will come from town Community Preservation Act funds.
Voters will also be asked to contribute $38,000 to help pay for the administrative expenses of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, provided that the five other towns also approve their share of the spending, and $58,000 for rental assistance.
A transfer of $20,000 from free cash to the West Tisbury Affordable Housing Trust Fund is requested for future affordable housing projects; the money comes from the sale of a home at Bailey Park.
Voters also will be asked to transfer $52,700 to the Island Housing Trust for second mortgages from an unspent balance from the Helm Loan Fund program. The surplus was discovered by town accountant Bruce Stone in an examination of the fund that was originally administered by the now-defunct Island Affordable Housing Fund.
The long-debated question of what, if anything, to do about the Mill Pond will again be a subject for discussion when voters take up a request for $15,000 for a watershed study.
At their meeting this week, the selectmen reviewed a draft request for proposals for the study, which will begin in June if the money is approved.
If voters agree to spend $12,000 in CPA monies, the Manter Memorial Baseball Field will have its infield and part of its outfield renovated.
Other CPA spending requests include $5,000 to go toward digitizing and archiving the town’s historic records, and $10,000 to go toward a countywide project to replace windows at the courthouse in Edgartown. The latter is the only article not recommended by the finance committee. All six towns must approve their spending shares in order for the project to move forward.
Voters will be asked to spend $32,000 for a new police cruiser and $30,000 for a fire department generator.
A proposed town bylaw would allow people over the age of 70 to obtain a dog license at no cost.
And finally, in a nonbinding resolution placed on the warrant by petition, West Tisbury voters will be asked to register their opinion on the federal bill authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) calling for a ban on assault weapons.
The annual town election is Thursday; polling hours are from noon to 8 p.m. in the public safety building. There are no contests on the ballot and the police station debt exemption is the lone question. Mrs. Mitchell is running for re-election.