The Edgartown conservation commission, Nature Conservancy and Division of Conservation Services are in discussion about a possible land swap at Pennywise Path as a way to allow the Katama Airfield hangar restoration project to go forward, town selectmen learned this week.
Town voters have approved spending $250,000 for the hangar restoration and expansion project, including $200,000 from Community Preservation Act monies, but the plan hit a roadblock in May when the state rejected revisions to a conservation restriction at the airfield held by the town and the Nature Conservancy.
Town administrator Pam Dolby told the selectmen at their weekly meeting Monday the swap with the commonwealth would not be ready for a vote by an Oct. 28 special town meeting, but she hoped it would be ready in time for the annual town meeting in April.
In other business Monday, affordable housing committee member Janet Hathaway and Ms. Dolby expressed concern about illegal dumping on two town lots in Ocean Heights slated to become affordable housing sites. They urged the selectmen to hold public hearings on how to proceed with developing the two lots between 6th and 7th streets and how to mitigate the trash pileup. “The neighborhood will be thrilled,” Ms. Dolby said. “It’s a mess, it’s all garbage.”
The selectmen also approved selling two lots across the street from the affordable housing sites to abutters for $14,600. The two 1,500-square-foot lots were advertised for sale last year with no takers.
Plans for NSTAR to replace two underwater cables in Edgartown harbor are underway after a Sept. 18 power outage caused Chappaquiddick residents to lose power for nearly nine hours, damaging the cables. NSTAR has put out to bid the first part of construction, which will consist of installing new conduits under the channel between Edgartown and Chappy. Once complete, NSTAR will run the new cables through the conduits.
The owner of the Chappaquiddick ferry had questions for the selectmen about the project and its impact on the small ferry operation.
“I’m concerned there will be a big concrete vault at the ferry point. Space is at a premium down there,” said Mr. Wells, who also expressed concern about how utility poles may have to be rearranged. “It’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing. I don’t want to be a thorn in their side but it’s a chance to do it right,” he said.
“Their thing is, we need to rush through this, otherwise Chappy won’t have energy,” Mrs. Dolby said, but assured the selectmen and Mr. Wells everything would come before the selectmen and the conservation commission at public meetings.
On the upside, new cables may mean that Chappaquiddick could receive cable television service, which until now has been unavailable on the small island separated from Edgartown by water. Comcast’s cable contract with all Island towns is up for renewal this year.
Selectmen also reported that the Edgartown water department will move its offices from Meshacket Road to the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Selectmen will meet with water commissioners next week to discuss plans to install solar panels at the water department offices.
And finally, Tim Toomey told the selectmen that he and his wife do not plan to renew their contract to operate the Edgartown Visitor’s Center in June 2012. The Toomeys have held the contract for the center on Church street, which includes a postal substation, for 17 years.