Chilmark voters, at a special town meeting on Tuesday, indefinitely postponed requests to fund major expansion projects at both the town hall and the public library.
Everett H. Poole, moderator, opened the town meeting a few minutes after the 7:30 p.m. scheduled start, allowing the large number of people to take their seats. By the time the meeting began, the hall had 219 voters in attendance. Article one, a $1.02 million expansion project for the town hall, was put aside when voters made it clear they felt big-ticket items should be on the spring annual town meeting warrant.
"This is a large expenditure that belongs on the annual town meeting warrant. What is the emergency?" asked Seth Wakeman.
Selectman Warren Doty told voters that the town hall is overcrowded and that the second floor can't be used unless the town adds an elevator for handicap access. He said just as many voters show up for special town meeting as for the annual.
Former selectman Pam Goff stood before the microphone and said she found merit in the plan proposed by architect Ben Moore. "It is an excellent plan," she said.
Despite some persuasive points made by proponents, one voter mentioned that after the national tragedy of the week before, this was not a good time to embark on an expensive construction project which involved borrowing money.
Virginia Poole told the voters she believes the town does its best decision making after Christmas. She said the community needs more time to consider the project. "This building will be in the center of our town," she said. "We have a responsibility to look at a number of proposals."
Town treasurer Judy M. Jardin urged the voters to pursue the establishment of a capital planning committee to look at all the buildings in the town. "It is incumbent on us to establish the committee. It is critical when you spend that kind of money."
Selectman Alex Preston responded: "We are smart to take them one at a time and not all at once."
A motion to indefinitely postpone the article was carried.
Mr. Preston told the voters that the selectmen had met with the library committee and wished also to indefinitely postpone article two, which called on voters to commit $300,000 to the library expansion project. Mr. Preston said town leaders are planning to hold a special meeting in November.
Susan Murphy spoke up: "I wouldn't want to jeopardize the money from the state."
It was reported that the town has until Dec. 7 to approve the $2.1 million library project or forfeit the state money to another community.
One voter in the audience questioned whether the state Board of Library Commissioners would really commit $1,108,000 to the Chilmark library.
Mrs. Murphy responded by explaining that 60 libraries across the state applied for funding. She said the state had only $17 million to offer 10 libraries. "The library won the award because it meets the needs of the town," she said. If Chilmark turns down the project, another town will receive the money, she said.
Scott McDowell said promoters of the library project had promised to raise funds and use grants to build the addition.
Lois Mayhew said that under the original plan they had expected to get state funds in the year 2002. There was no time to raise funds, she said. "It is an unfortunate consequence but a fortunate one, too," she said.
The motion to indefinitely postpone the article carried by a voice vote, close to an hour into the meeting.
Voters discussed and ultimately defeated an effort to rewrite the town youth lot bylaw. The article was defeated despite efforts by members of the planning board and others to define the intent of the changes benefiting future young residents of the town.
Edward Kenyon, chairman of the planning board, told the voters that with the future looking so bleak for the availability of youth lots, it was incumbent upon the town to try to maintain youth lots as affordable housing into the future. Article 14 on the warrant called for language which would keep a youth lot as a youth lot into perpetuity, beyond the life of the recipient.
Mr. Kenyon said that under the present system: "Once a youth lot is gone, it is gone for future generations." He said with proper language, a youth lot might be used again by another needy resident.
The strongest opposition came from residents of town who had already received youth lots.
Mary Boyd, a recipient of one of the town's youth lots, told the voters the town's current youth lot program already has enough restrictions to prevent profiteering.
Zee Gamson, former chairman of the planning board's affording housing subcommittee, said that both sides of the issue are valid. She said the town will have few new youth lots in the future. "We tend to personalize this," she said, to think of the current holders of youth lots facing a burden in the ownership of a town lot. "The future people are faceless. Do we stop giving out youth lots in the future? There is a definite conflict."
Barbara Murphy said the youth lot program is like a school offering scholarships to someone going to college - there are no strings attached to scholarship money. She said youth lot rec-pients should not be treated like second class citizens.
Candace DaRosa replied: "Land is not like a scholarship." She said that as time goes by, the town is going to have less land to pass out to its young people in the future.
Leonard Jason Jr., town building inspector, said he thought it was a bad article. He urged it be voted down and it was - but only barely, with 47 voters opposed, 41 in favor.
The planning board article restricting the construction of future swimming pools and tennis courts passed along with all the other items on the 16-article warrant. Articles ranged from dredging Menemsha harbor between the Coast Guard boathouse and The Galley to making improvements to the ambulance barn.