Aquinnah voters approved the $32,000 purchase of a half acre of land for relocation of the Gay Head Light while moving quickly through a special town meeting agenda Tuesday night. Forty-four voters gathered at the old town hall unanimously approved 16 out of 18 agenda items, but paused for discussion about the proposal to purchase land for the lighthouse relocation effort. Selectman chairman Beverly Wright said the lot is one of three where the town might relocate the lighthouse. While the land might not be the final location, “the board of selectmen thought that it would be a good lot to just have in our repertoire, a piece of nice land that’s high and has a great view.” She said selectmen negotiated the $32,000 price for the land, which was valued at $16,300 and appraised at $50,000.
A round of applause followed her congratulations of efforts to relocate the light. “The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse committee has really been working hard and I’m so glad about what we are doing,” she said. “It’s amazing what we’ve done in four months.”
Community preservation committee chairman Derrill Bazzy said the land is a natural extension of town-owned property, while Lenny Butler, the chair of the lighthouse relocation committee, said the town will need the land during the actual move of the lighthouse.
“This piece of property is vital to all three locations,” he said.
There were a few concerns. “It just seems like a high price to pay for a landlocked piece [of land],” Elise LeBovit said. “I think it’s out of order to get that property before we know where the lighthouse is going.” She made a motion to offer $16,000 for the land, but there was not a second.
Others noted that a piece of land for sale for $32,000 in Aquinnah is rare, and that the land is valuable as open space.
“This is simply a case of if we don’t purchase the property, we can’t move the lighthouse,” Mr. Butler said.
The vote was 42-2 in favor of the article. By the same margin, the town approved the appropriation of community preservation funds for the purchase of the lighthouse.
A proposal to amend Aquinnah zoning bylaws requiring 200 feet of frontage for all buildable lots was withdrawn. Town counsel Michael Goldsmith asked voters to delay a decision on the article so the language can be cleaned up and made more consistent. “To work on that over the winter before the annual [town meeting] would be a wise approach,” he said.
Some had concerns that postponing the vote would delay pending permits, but town meeting eventually voted unanimously to withdraw the item.
Other items unanimously approved included $15,000 in community preservation money for restoration of the Vanderhoop Homestead, $7,200 to recarpet the town hall offices and meeting rooms and $2,100 for Aquinnah’s part of a Menemsha Pond study.
Moderator Michael Hebert called the meeting to order at 7:11 p.m. with a moment of silence for those impacted by the Boston marathon bombings and “all others in harm’s way today.” The meeting adjourned at 8:02 p.m.