The Chilmark selectmen this week responded cautiously to efforts by an ad-hoc citizen’s committee to revisit the idea of an Island housing bank.

The newly formed Vineyard housing bank citizen’s committee hopes to place a non-binding question on the annual election ballots in all six towns this year to gauge support for the proposal, which aims to address the Island’s shortage of affordable housing.

An earlier version of the request noted a goal of inspiring each town to contribute 65 per cent of its annual community preservation act (CPA) funds, but was revised after meeting resistance from the Edgartown selectmen last week. The question now indicates only that initial funding will come from “a portion” of those funds in each town.

In a letter to Chilmark selectman Warren Doty, committee founder Robert Sawyer, who owns the Dukes Academy real estate school in Tisbury and is a co-owner of The Barn, Bowl and Bistro in Oak Bluffs, said the goal was “to provide the opportunity and forum for the entire community to identify their level of support” for a housing bank.

Committee member John Abrams, a longtime affordable housing advocate and owner of the South Mountain Company in West Tisbury, which built some of the first income-restricted housing on the Island, spoke with the Chilmark selectmen on Tuesday.

“We don’t necessarily believe that CPA funding is in any way, shape or form the end of this or the best way to fund” a housing bank, he said, noting the possibility of an additional real estate transfer fee or other options further down the road. “If we start with a sense that the Island is committed to funding affordable housing, we’ll have a leg to stand on if we do see legislative opportunities.”

A proposed housing bank bill for the Vineyard and Nantucket in 2006 saw strong support on the islands but was defeated by the house of representatives in a 91-64 vote. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors had strongly opposed the bill. The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, which collects a two-per-cent fee on most property transactions on the Island, has agreed to act as a collection agency were such a bill to pass.

Land bank executive director James Lengyel is a member of the new committee. Other members include Island Housing Trust director Philippe Jordi, Oak Bluffs planning board members Ewell Hopkins and Brian Packish, and other affordable housing advocates and town officials, mostly from down-Island. Several members were involved in the efforts to create a housing bank in 2006.

Chilmark selectman Bill Rossi, who serves on the town community preservation committee, said the town was already taking significant steps to provide affordable housing, and noted a policy in Chilmark not to contribute more than 10 per cent of CPA funds to projects in other towns.

“We understand that a substantial amount of CPA money is dedicated for affordable housing,” he said of the committee.

Selectman James Malkin had a similar response, saying he would be reluctant to place the question on the spring ballot without a public meeting in Chilmark beforehand. “I think you would be best served to provide direct information,” he said.

The selectmen agreed to revisit the issue on March 7.

In other business, a search for a new police chief is nearing its end, with three finalists selected. Mr. Rossi, who is heading the search committee, said the names would be revealed as soon as the other candidates are informed of the decision. Public interviews with the finalists are scheduled for March 8 at town hall.

Selectmen also granted a street license to the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company, a process that began in January when the company requested permission to conduct sight-seeing tours on State and South roads. Co-owner John Tiernan plans to work with the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and Chilmark historical commission to develop a historical script for tour guides. At the selectmen’s request, the tour vans will not go to Menemsha, where traffic is an issue in the summer.