The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank voted unanimously to continue the lease with the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and to investigate the Chappy Point Beach property and other possibilities. The Land Bank initially discussed the subject of the lease earlier this month, which caused a disagreement on how the Land Bank should react if the building was partially or totally damaged. This was part of an annual review of the lease.
Edgartown Commissioner Steve Ewing said the current lease is for 2020 to 2024. He also spoke with the Shellfish Group and reviewed the lease and its documents. Ewing said the lease states that Land Bank “is prepared to lease the beach house to the Shellfish Group…but with the understanding that the ultimate goal of Land Bank at some point in the future is to remove all structures on the premises in order to renaturalize the premises and return them to undeveloped conditions.
Additionally, Ewing said the shellfish business brings in almost $4 million annually to Edgartown, and that the Shellfish Group is a “significant part of that function.” He “strongly recommends” that the Land Bank promote the Shellfish Group.
West Tisbury Commissioner Peter Wells pointed out that the flood insurance the Shellfish Group is considering costs $8,000 and cannot rebuild the property if it has been destroyed by a storm or flood.
Aquinnah Commissioner Sarah Thulin said they should continue with the lease. However, all Commissioners should visit the site and search for suitable areas if the Shellfish Group were to relocate.
“I agree with Sarah,” Ewing said. “We should agree to go on and meet with them and chat and help them on the road to figure out how to take care of them there, or if there is another property that is suitable or better, somewhere else too… we should encourage the Seashell Group.
Meanwhile, commissioners have unanimously approved changes to salaries for summer and ecology staff. In a seven-step pay scale, which went from $13.50 per hour at step one to $19.50 per hour at step seven, rangers and shorebird monitors earned $13.50 per hour, seasonal wildlife biology assistants earned $15.50 per hour and wildlife biology interns earned 11 months. earned $16.50 an hour. Interns have the highest salary because the Land Bank usually hires people with a master’s degree, who will then go on to another job. The proposed scale adjusts pay by emphasizing pay for lower-level staff, as more of them are hired than biology assistants or trainees. The new pay scale now pays rangers and shorebird monitors $14.25 an hour, seasonal wildlife biology assistants $15.25 an hour, and interns earn $15. $.75 per hour.