Aquinnah selectmen are interested in renting out the historic Manning property situated just below the Gay Head Light, with an eye on potentially bringing the former snack bar back to life.

In a brief discussion at their meeting Tuesday, selectmen said they would be in favor of renting the town-owned property for the summer, assuming they could find funding to fix its substantial septic and cosmetic problems. The building has been mostly unused since it operated as a snack bar and shop in the 1960s and 1970s.

Discussion on the matter was spurred by a letter to selectmen from resident Derrill Bazzy, who has been involved with multiple projects to rehabilitate the Gay Head Cliffs and Circle in recent years. Shops around the Circle constitute the small town’s only commercial district.

Gazette clipping from 1966 with picture of Manning Snack Bar. — Gazette archives

In his letter, Mr. Bazzy said a summer rental of the Manning property could benefit both the town, and an entrepreneurial resident.

“The town should make plans to rent the front building of the Manning’s this summer,” selectman Juli Vanderhoop read from the letter. “It requires minor upgrades and would provide a good business or gallery space for someone in town, and also keeps that space from sitting empty.”

“I’m all for it,” selectman Jim Newman said in response.

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison, however, voiced some reservations, explaining that the property needed repairs.

“There is no plumbing. It has a failed septic system. And there is no water,” he said.

The town agreed to purchase the .37 acre roadside parcel with sweeping views of the water and lighthouse for $590,000 during a somewhat tense town meeting back in 2014. The property contains two buildings; one is Helen Manning’s former home, and the other is a ranch-style structure that was built as a restaurant in the mid-20th century. The building has been unoccupied since the restaurant closed in the mid-1970s, Mr. Madison estimated.

A 1966 photo of the restaurant in the Gazette shows a bustling shop, with customers eating under a canopy of fishing nets and general store victuals.

“Manning’s Snack Bar in Gay Head is a snack bar plus arts and crafts, plus oddments and additives,” the caption reads.

Selectmen on Tuesday floated the idea of using Community Preservation Committee money to refurbish the building. They also discussed connecting the building’s failed septic to a larger septic system used at the town’s public restrooms on the Circle.

“We want to get that building off and running, and have something viable up there that would service the community,” Ms. Vanderhoop said.

Selectmen were broad in their proposed vision for the space, saying it could potentially function as a gallery, restaurant, shop — or something among all three. They took no action on the matter.

In other business, Mr. Madison said he had asked VTA administrator Angela Grant to come before the board to discuss the town’s increased assessment for bus services, as well as a perceived decline in service. Ms. Grant was supposed to come to the Tuesday meeting, but had a conflict. A new date was not set for her to appear before selectmen.

“[The VTA] decided against terminating the service completely, but it is operating on a much-reduced schedule,” Mr. Madison said. “I’ve taken notice.”