High political season begins on the Island this week when voters gather in four Island towns for annual town meetings and elections.
On Tuesday night gavels will bang, town clerks will count heads to determine quorums and annual meetings will get under way in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury and Tisbury. (In Edgartown and West Tisbury there will be a bit of added ceremony at the outset when poet laureates Steve Ewing and Justen Ahren read poems written specially for the occasion.)
Edgartown voters will debate new historic district bylaws, decide whether to take ownership of the historic town lighthouse and consider spending articles on new fire trucks and Fourth of July fireworks, among other things. Special and annual town meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Old Whaling Church under the guiding hand of longtime moderator Philip J. Norton Jr.
Oak Bluffs voters will hear reports on an improving financial situation in their town and will debate a $900,000 spending plan for deferred road and sidewalk repairs. Voters will also have a chance to debate the merits of the controversial Monster Shark Tournament on the town meeting floor this year in a nonbinding question. Special and annual town meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center of the regional high school. Moderator Jesse (Jack) Law 3rd presides.
In Tisbury the health of town ponds and waterways and the cost of protecting them will be a chief topic for discussion when voters take up a $900,000 spending request for upgrades to the town sewage treatment system. Special and annual town meetings begin at 7 p.m. under the guidance of moderator Deborah Medders.
And in West Tisbury voters will take up a $2.8 million spending article for a new town police station planned for the public safety building in North Tisbury. Special and annual town meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the West Tisbury school gymnasium. Moderator F. Patrick Gregory will preside.
Edgartown, Tisbury and Oak Bluffs voters will also consider identical questions to place a one-year moratorium medical marijuana dispensaries. West Tisbury takes up the question at a special town meeting in May.
Annual town elections will be held Thursday in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury. There are no elected contests on the ballots this year. The Tisbury town election is April 30.