Chilmark’s annual town meeting this year swung between unanimous agreement and fervent debate.

All but seven of the 37 articles passed unanimously, including a request to approve a bond of up to $1.6 million for a new building for the Center for Living, which runs a day program for seniors.

A total of 147 voters attended the meeting Monday at the Chilmark Community Center.

Selectman Warren Doty suggested postponing the proposal for a new school administration building. — Peter Simon

Three articles were postponed indefinitely, including two related to the acquisition of two parcels of land needed for a plan to restore Squibnocket Beach. “We have the deeds for both those parcels and we have the money and we are just waiting on a closing date, hopefully this week,” said selectmen Bill Rossi, who has been negotiating with the landowners this year.

Police chief Brian Cioffi asked to postpone an article asking for $37,000 for a new police vehicle. The town finance committee had voted not to recommend the article.

A handful of articles that did not pass unanimously gave rise to intense debate.

Chilmark was the fifth town this year to vote on contributing to the cost of a new schools administration building, and the question narrowly failed in the ballot box at the annual town election Wednesday.

But on the town meeting floor Monday night, much of the debate touched on the same arguments heard at other town meetings. The school superintendent is asking for up to $3.9 million for a new building to replace the current administration building in Vineyard Haven.

Police chief Brian Cioffi. — Peter Simon

Selectman Warren Doty was among those who challenged the proposal. “During our [finance committee] meetings this winter, school committee and department members impressed us with how many repairs were needed in school buildings,” he said. “How can you justify spending on new offices when we have needs for school buildings?” He suggested postponing the article for several years.

Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss, who attended the meeting, agreed that Island schools were in need of repairs, but also pointed out that the administration building was part of a long process in which the six towns had already appropriated about $187,000 for a feasibility study and schematic designs.

“This process has been going on for almost 10 years and it seems like the high school district was ready to move forward,” Mr. Weiss said. “I understand that there are a series of needs.” He also listed the many problems with the current building, which include a lack of handicapped access, fire alarms and sprinklers.

West Tisbury rejected the article at its town meeting two weeks ago, casting doubt on the future of the project.

Other town officials in Chilmark questioned the need for a new building. Selectman Jonathan Mayhew, who remembered his own visits to the existing building as a high school student, asked if the high school could rent the extra space in the proposed Center for Living building. Mr. Weiss said the school committee has already investigated possible rental spaces, including that one, and found it to be inadequate in terms of space and configuration. He pointed out that the design of the second floor space would “make our use of it very difficult.”

Finance committee member Susan Murphy was surprised that the school had rejected the former VNA building outright. She too suggested that the project be postponed to address the needs of Island schools, including the Chilmark School.

Others spoke in favor of the project, including Vineyard Health Care Access director Sarah Kuh, who has had meetings in the current building and called it “a bit of an embarrassment” with its many problems.

Selectman Bill Rossi updated town meeting on Squibnocket plans. — Peter Simon

In the end the article passed by a decent majority. But at the election two days later, a tax override measure tied to the article was defeated 76 to 69.

Another article that drew debate Monday was a request for $12,733 to fund a part-time school resource officer for the Chilmark School, as mandated by the state, subject to appropriation. The finance committee had voted 6-1 not to recommend the article.

Police chief Brian Cioffi explained that the officer’s role would be to provide school security and also to foster relationships between children and the police department.

Finance committee member Jim Malkin said the finance committee had felt that in a small town like Chilmark, the students could already feel comfortable with the police. He also pointed out that the police department was right across from the school. He added: “It was clear to the finance committee that an armed police officer, frankly, would not stop an evildoer who entered the school.”

Vicki Divoll, the one finance committee member who voted to recommend the article, called it a “small investment for the short term, but perhaps something that could be valuable in the long term.”

But several voters opposed the idea. “I myself am not living in fear in Chilmark,” said Rick O’Gorman. “If the vote is based on people living in fear in Chilmark, then I can’t support that vote.”

The article failed by large majority.

A proposed housing bylaw amendment that would allow for strictly controlled accessory apartments in town passed unanimously, after three amendments to the article were made on the town meeting floor. Housing committee chairman Jim Feiner changed the language of the bylaw amendment to clarify the definition of a caregiver and the eligibility for affordable housing rentals. He also moved to shorten the review period of the bylaw from five to two years.

Housing committee chairman Jim Feiner. — Peter Simon

Caregivers must now reside on-site “for the purpose of caring for an elderly, chronically sick or disabled person.” And for the apartments that are rented, tenants must occupy them year round and be eligible for affordable housing in Chilmark, as determined by a basic income certification by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.

Mr. Feiner said that for many people in town the idea of having an onsite caregiver makes the prospect of aging “a little less scary.” He pointed out that the town has only six rental units and four others that are subsidized. “We need to do better,” he said.

“No matter what we do we will never have enough affordable housing options to mitigate the shortage, so we need to do all we can.”

Voters enthusiastically rejected a petition calling for a secret ballot, and proceeded to loudly approve the article. “Don’t shout!” said moderator Everett Poole.

As a final order of business, Margaret Maida thanked Mr. Weiss for his long service to the Island. Mr. Weiss will retire this year after a decade as superintendent. Voters joined in a sustained standing ovation for Mr. Weiss before Mr. Poole adjourned the meeting.