Edgartown voters raced through a lengthy town meeting agenda Tuesday night, easily approving costly wastewater improvements, a new hangar at the Katama airfield and a $36.8 million budget.

“You don’t want to talk, do you?” moderator Philip J. (Jeff) Norton Jr. told the 244 voters gathered at the Old Whaling Church after another article breezed through without discussion.

A total of 244 voters filled the Old Whaling Church. — Mark Lovewell

But voters chose their moments for discussion, among other things taking time to debate and ultimately defeat a request from the sheriff to spend $92,952 toward the county communications center. Some of the most heartfelt expressions were for the moderator himself, who was presiding over his final town meeting after 43 years.

As late evening sun filtered through the church windows, poet laureate Steve Ewing took the podium to begin the annual town meeting with verse. “Jeff,” Mr. Ewing began. “He grips the podium like the wooden wheel of a loaded cargo schooner, comfortable yet firm as he steers us through another night . . . ”

The poem prompted a sustained standing ovation for the poet and the moderator. Selectman chairman Arthur Smadbeck gave Mr. Norton a commemorative gavel in honor of his service.

“Thank you Mr. Ewing, selectmen,” Mr. Norton said. “As you all probably know I enjoyed doing this. As I told somebody, it was something to do. I’ve got to be here on town meeting night anyway, so I might as well do something. I hope you are all as kind to the next moderator as you have been to me.”

And then the work of the evening continued as Mr. Norton steered the audience through a 75-article town meeting warrant. The biggest spending item of the night, $3.7 million for a slate of improvements for the wastewater department, passed unanimously and without discussion.

Financial advisory committee chairman Paulo DeOliveira. — Mark Alan Lovewell

A request for $1.2 million to restore the dilapidated World War II-era airplane hangar at the Katama Airfield passed after brief debate. The project has been in the works for nearly 20 years.

Some questioned why the new hangar was needed and who would benefit. “It’s too much . . . for an airport that I think services a very small percentage of the people on the Island,” Bill Glazier said. “I would rather see the money go to where it can do the most good. Housing, substance abuse, to help the seniors, rather than to help a small airport.”

Former airport manager Mike Creato recalled the lengthy process through which the town acquired the historic airfield and surrounding open space, restricted as conservation land. His grandparents Dorothy and Stephen Gentle owned the airfield and sold it to the town in 1985. “The only condition they had was that the town continued to operate it as a public airport as it had been for many years,” Mr. Creato said. “Pilots enjoy a unique and beautiful airport . . . we all enjoy the open space.”

“Here we are, the old hangar is done,” he added. “It’s foolishly difficult to operate an airport without a viable hangar . . .it will look great, last a long time, and honor the original agreement with the Gentles to continue to operate a viable grass airfield for future generations.”

The article passed by a standing vote of 175-19. The airfield and the wastewater projects both require additional approval at the town election Thursday.

Town administrator Pamela Dolby is also retiring later this year. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Frustration spilled over during discussion about spending $400,000 to rebuild and resurface town streets. The project was easily approved, but voters took the opportunity to voice their frustration over the slow pace of a project to pave Meetinghouse Way.

Some asked whether Meetinghouse would be finished before the new paving projects begin. Others wondered why Eversource utility poles were left in the middle of the road.

Highway superintendent Stuart Fuller said work would resume shortly after a break for winter weather and said he has been trying to work with the power company to remove the poles.

Voters agreed to amend the historic district bylaw to include sidewalks and lighting fixtures and approved a host of community preservation act funding, including $340,000 for improvements to the Robinson Road recreational area. The town will also look at whether to stay in the Community Preservation Act program, which adds a surcharge onto property taxes to be used for historic preservation, open space and affordable housing. The amount is partially matched by the state.

Benjamin L. Hall Jr. proposed an amendment requiring selectmen to appoint a committee to look into whether the town should remain in the program. “Almost a million dollars gets set aside a year that’s not being spent the way we want to spend it, but the way the government statute says we have to spend it,” he said.

Mr. Smadbeck agreed and said selectmen would appoint a committee regardless of whether the amendment passed. In the end voters agreed too.

Earlier in the night, voters made quick work of a special town meeting to start the night, with all 17 articles easily approved. Proposals included a stabilization fund for the high school and $2,405 for a new heater at the animal control office.

Cheers fill the room to start the meeting. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“All those in favor of keeping the animals warm, say aye,” Mr. Norton said. Voters laughed and said aye.

The breezy tone came to an end with the final article, submitted by petition by the sheriff, that called for the town to contribute $93,000 for the cost of the Dukes County communication center. While center director Susan Schofield said the funding was necessary to upgrade radios used for emergency dispatch, the fire chief Alex Schaeffer and police Lieut. Chris Dolby spoke against the funding, arguing it was unclear how the money would be spent. Edgartown joined other Island towns in turning down the request.

“It does not carry,” Mr. Norton said about 10 minutes after 10 p.m., signaling the end of the meeting.

“Thank you, Mr. Moderator,” someone shouted from the crowd, and everyone stood again to cheer for Mr. Norton, who waved his papers in acknowledgment. He left the podium, greeted by well-wishers, as the crowd began to file out of the church, town business completed for another year.

More photos of the Edgartown town meeting.