At a special town meeting Tuesday night, Aquinnah voters agreed to pay for improvements at Philbin Beach and the Aquinnah Circle, and approved a set of bylaw amendments aimed at helping town hall run more smoothly.

A total of 42 voters turned out on a rainy evening for the meeting at the Old Town Hall. The meeting had been rescheduled from one two weeks earlier which had failed to reach a quorum of 36.

All but one of the seven articles passed unanimously.

Voters turned out on a rainy night to take care of business in the Old Town Hall. — Alison L. Mead

Voters agreed to spend $55,000 on a long-planned wooden walkway over the dunes at Philbin Beach, adding to$30,000 appropriated for the project a year ago. Planning board member Peter Temple assured voters that the walkway would be low enough to be nearly invisible from the Gay Head cliffs.

An article seeking approval to borrow $300,000 for projects at Aquinnah Circle sparked considerable debate, mostly around unspecified improvements planned for three buildings near the Gay Head Light, known collectively as the Manning-Murray property. The money will be repaid using future community preservation funds for historic preservation, recreation and open space.

Community preservation committee member Richard Skidmore said recent public hearings showed strong support for preserving the three town-owned buildings and putting them to some sort of use. “We have a lot of different ideas about what those uses could be,” he said.

Elise LeBovit, a member of the town lighthouse advisory board, disagreed, arguing that the hearings did not represent the town as a whole, and that only the most visible building, formerly a restaurant and the home of Helen Manning, was worth saving.

“I don’t want to give you a blank check,” she said, pressing instead for a plan.

Mr. Skidmore, who is keeper of the Gay Head Light and serves on the lighthouse advisory board, mentioned a list of potential uses for the buildings. “It was obvious that they did have value,” he said, referring to the public hearings. He also emphasized that the public process would continue.

Final decisions about the buildings will require approval from the town selectmen and planning board. Community preservation committee chairman Derrill Bazzy, who presented the article along with Mr. Skidmore, acknowledged the absence of a plan, but said the request would at least allow the town to set money aside and stabilize the buildings. He added that a community visioning process for the Circle last year may resume in the winter.

The $300,000 will also help fund the burial of power lines around Aquinnah Circle, new or restored pathways within the Circle cultural district, improvements to the overlook, and ongoing restoration work on the Gay Head Light and Vanderhoop Homestead.

Wampanoag elder Bettina Washington, who serves on the lighthouse advisory board, defended the proposal on historical grounds, recalling the central role that Helen Manning played in the community.

“Helen was our teacher,” Mrs. Washington said, recalling the former Gay Head School, which closed in the 1960s. “She was a town leader. She was a big proponent of trying to bring our language back.” She added: “There is a whole story there and I think we deserve to look at that history.”

After some more back and forth, town moderator Michael Hebert called the question. An amendment to omit the two smaller buildings from the article failed, and the main article passed with one dissenting vote.

An amended bylaw will require town employees with an office in town hall to hold regular office hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those employees are the tax collector, treasurer, accountant, assessor, clerk and administrator.

“They have to be responsible to the public, and be available,” selectman Jim Newman said in explaining the amendment. “And there has got to be oversight. If you are running something at home or on weekends there’s no oversight.”

Amendments to the grievance procedure for town employees remove the selectmen from the process, placing supervisors, the town administrator and the personnel board in charge of complaints. Town administrator Adam Wilson, who initiated the changes, said they were modeled after the policy in Oak Bluffs, which he said was more comprehensive. He added that the selectmen were better left out of the process, since they too could be the subject of a complaint. “Not that we have a lot of grievances,” he said.

Voters also:

• Agreed to spend $2,365 for equipment for a new member of the Aquinnah fire department;

• Paid two prior-year bills to the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse District totaling $2,686.85;

• Agreed to participate in a state program that aims to provide residents with zero-interest loans for septic system repairs.