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Fire station, light pollution highlight Edgartown warrant

Sep 24, 2023Sep 24, 2023

The warrant for the annual and Special Edgartown Town Meeting is 93 articles long, and includes a 5½ percent budget increase from last year.

The $42.6 million budget is higher than last year largely because of the rising costs of services and salaries seen across the Northeast and country, according to town officials.

“It’s the same forces that are affecting Massachusetts and the rest of the Vineyard,” Hagerty said. “Inflationary costs are driving up the costs of goods and services.”

At the same time, the town meeting warrant has a number of requests to store away funding for projected capital projects, like the high school renovation or rebuild, wastewater management projects, upgrading municipal wells, and a new Council on Aging facility.

But likely to get the most attention on town meeting floor Tuesday are the current capital requests, like the new fire station and improvements to the North Wharf. Both will require an affirmative vote at the town election as well.

The town is requesting $21 million for the fire station rebuild. The proposed station’s footprint will be roughly double the size of the current one. Plans call for a three-bay garage and auxiliary space behind the station, and there will be enough space for training.The current fire station is pushing six decades old, and town officials say that the department has outgrown the building.

The town is also asking for $2.6 million to fund renovations at the North Wharf. Town meeting in 2019 already approved nearly $1 million for the project; the town has also received funding from the state. But project costs climbed over the past few years, Hagerty said.

The plan is to replace the bulkhead, timber pilings, and additional other work on the commercial marine hub.

Other capital projects include more than $1.5 million in upgrades at the town’s wastewater treatment plant. That’s funding to replace a number of parts, including a water effluent pump system and sludge belt.

In a slightly smaller request, the town wants $700,000 to demolish and rebuild the animal control officer’s facilities. Hagerty says the current kennel hasn’t been updated since the 1980s, and many of the services provided have to be outsourced to veterinarians, at a cost to the town.

The town is also looking to replace the playground at the Edgartown School, and build an outdoor classroom. The total for the project is estimated at nearly $1 million.

Voters will be asked to consider a study to find the best management practices for ferry service to Chappaquiddick Island, whether that would be a town-led or nonprofit operation.

And town meeting will also be asked to consider a zoning provision dealing with light pollution. Edgartown resident Norma Holmes put in the request. The idea is to “maintain the traditional character of Edgartown, including the unique quality of the nighttime sky,” the article’s explanation reads. The article recommends such changes to zoning as requiring outdoor lights to “not be offensive” to neighbors.

“In all zoning districts, any private outdoor lighting fixture, whether temporary or permanent, shall be so directed, placed, and shielded so that the light shall not be offensive to other residents. All outdoor lighting must be shielded and pointed downward. All outdoor lighting shall be placed or mounted so that no lamp is higher than the eave line of the structure,” the article reads.

Town meeting in Edgartown will take place at 7 pm at the Old Whaling Church.