A light turnout of agreeable West Tisbury voters Tuesday night approved nearly all of the 37 articles at the annual town meeting, including a $2.45 million police station and a $15,000 Mill Pond watershed study. But they would not agree to spend money on two unrelated countywide programs: pest management and an ongoing window replacement project in the county courthouse.
A total of 156 voters turned out for the meeting, which finished in two hours. Voters go to the polls Thursday for the annual town election; there are no elected contests on the ballot but there is a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exemption question for the police station project. Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. at the public safety building.
Capping nearly two years of planning, voters agreed to back the new 5,600-square-foot police station for the public safety complex in North Tisbury. Construction was originally estimated at $2.8 million, but after opening construction bids late Tuesday afternoon, building committee chairman Norman Perry amended the amount to $2.45 million on the town meeting floor.
Police chief Dan Rossi appealed to voters to support the project.
“I think it’s time. The town has grown, the police department has grown, we are in need of a new police station and having a true public safety facility in town of West Tisbury,” the chief said.
His sergeant, Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd, who is also a town selectman, had another view and argued against the new facility on grounds of design and aesthetics.
“I’m most uncomfortable with the outside appearance — it just does not say West Tisbury,” Mr. Manter said. “I think we can do better.”
In the end the article carried 133-3. Approval in the ballot box tomorrow is still needed for the project to go forward.
Poet laureate Justen Ahren set the tone for the meeting at the outset with a poem inspired by the Mill Pond.
Voters easily approved a $14.7 million operating budget for the coming year, up two per cent over last year, and a two per cent cost of living increase for town employees.
Voters agreed to spend $15,000 on a yearlong watershed study for the Mill Pond, which will examine the health of the pond and river system from Tea Lane in Chilmark to Town Cove in West Tisbury. They approved a package of affordable housing initiatives including $242,000 to add more rental units onto the Sepiessa apartments.
The easy flow of approvals stopped when it came to discussion of spending on county programs. Voters decided to not fund the town share of the Integrated Pest Management program this year. “I would object to funding anything at the county level at this stage until they get their house in order,” said Doug Ruskin, speaking on the pest management article.
The meeting also rejected a $10,000 spending request to go toward a window replacement project at the county courthouse. Approval is needed from all six towns for the work to proceed.
The evening concluded with a short debate about national gun control laws, and a vote on a nonbonding resolution to back the federal bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, calling for a ban on assault weapons.
The resolution passed.