Chilmark will press pause on installing security cameras in Menemsha after a group of residents registered their formal objection to a 30-foot pole that went up on the west dock to hold the cameras.

Voters approved $20,000 for the cameras at the 2021 annual town meeting; another roughly $10,000 wil go toward the project from the harbor master budget. A cement pedestal and pole to hold the cameras were recently installed on the dock, but the cameras are not live yet.

The cameras are meant to deter theft and vandalism at the harbor, which harbor master Ryan Rossi said has become an increasing problem in recent years.

But in a letter to the select board this week, 28 Chilmark voters raised objections about the pole and said it merited another look.

Set in concrete and rising 30 feet, the tower is meant to house security cameras within eye-shot of the harbor master shack. — Albert O. Fischer

“We are requesting a reconsideration of what may have been a mistake and should be considered further.” the letter said. “We would ask you to please have the pedestal and tower removed from the middle of historic Menemsha harbor and consider something more in keeping with the character of Menemsha for the camera.”

At the request of the 28 petitioners, the letter was read into the record of the meeting.

Mr. Rossi, who attended the meeting, said there had been multiple instances of theft from commercial lobstermen since the pandemic started. Fishing gear has been stolen, batteries have been taken and fuel has been siphoned off private boats, he said.

“This isn’t something that I want to have to put in place, but I’ve come to the point where I no longer have answers for the multiple instances where people come to me and tell me that something has been stolen or something has been vandalized,” the harbor master said.

He said the mast and pole were installed to ensure an unobscured line of sight from the harbor master shack to the dock, so an antenna establishing a radio signal could be installed on the shack. The pole is 30 feet high so the three cameras can cover the entire area, Mr. Rossi said.

Matt Poole, one of the petitioners who attended the meeting, said there will need to be fencing around the pole to discourage climbing on it, which would make it even more of an eyesore.

“We haven’t even seen the entire sort of visual impact,” Mr. Poole said. “The cameras, I think, are probably necessary but I really, really think that there are other alternatives. I encourage the selectmen to just back away and do something more in keeping with Menemsha.”

The select board decided to halt further installation until after a meeting can be held with Mr. Rossi, selectman Warren Doty, the harbor advisory committee, the parks and recreation committee and concerned members of the public to figure out the best course of action.

“We’ve heard that the situation as it stands is really not acceptable,” Mr. Doty said.

Also Tuesday, the select board recognized town clerk Jennifer Christy for becoming a certified municipal clerk after completing a lengthy set of classes.

Board member James Malkin commended Ms. Christy.

“You are far and away the best that I know of in this position and it’s just terrific, congratulations,” he said.

Ms. Christy thanked the select board for the recognition.

“The certification process was actually really fun and it took a number of years to do,” Ms. Christy said. “But thank you very much.”

The board also authorized $1,000 for an application for a state grant as part of the town’s renewable energy plan.

Suellen Lazarus introduced herself as the new chairman of the Chilmark town affairs council. Summer programming for children will start July 4 and run through August 19 at the Chilmark Community Center, Ms. Lazarus said.