Second Life for the Home Port

Chilmark voters face an important decision when they convene for a special town meeting later this month: whether to buy the Home Port restaurant for two million dollars in order to tear it down and build a parking lot and more public bathrooms.

The plan has been crafted principally by selectman J.B. Riggs Parker and has the support of the majority of the board.

But now there is another wrinkle in the plan — last week Robert and Susan Nixon announced that if voters turn down the offer to buy the property, they have signed a back-up deal with owners Will and Madeline Holtham to buy the Home Port and keep it as a restaurant.

The Nixon plan appears to offer Chilmark voters a sound and viable alternative — spend no taxpayer money and let the Home Port remain as a private restaurant under the ownership of the Nixons, who already own the Menemsha and Beach Plum Inns. What’s the downside?

It is understandable that the Holthams want to get out of the restaurant business after so many years of running the Home Port, but the loss of a restaurant is not a positive for Menemsha village, which is both a tourist attraction and a working waterfront, with two fish markets, a small array of clam shacks and art shops.

The Home Port has long been a quintessential piece of summer — simple and unpretentious, a place where you wore plastic lobster bibs and brought your own wine to drink while you ate quahaug chowder that was the real deal, your eyes briefly blinded by a brilliant flood of color from the sun setting over Menemsha Bight.

It would be nice to see the Home Port have a second life.

And now the decision is up to the voters — as it properly should be — at the special town meeting at the Chilmark Community Center on September twenty second.