A plan to install high-speed electric vehicle chargers in Chilmark picked up steam Tuesday, after selectmen voted to apply to a state grant program to fund the installation project.
Proposed by the Chilmark Energy Committee, the plan aims to install one or two high-speed electric charging stations at a central town location. The fast-charging stations, which can juice up electric vehicles in only 30 minutes time, would be the first high-speed chargers installed on the Island.
The plan recently gained momentum after the state announced a new grant program to fund the installation of town-owned EV charging stations across the commonwealth last month.
On Tuesday, energy committee chairman Robert Hannemann and member Michael Jacobs came before the selectmen to discuss the project, suggesting the Chilmark Community Center and public library as two potential locations for the installation.
“In emergency situations or others, a public station would be very important, particularly for our visitors,” Mr. Hannemann said, noting Chilmark’s status as the only Island town without an EV charger.
Mr. Hannemann said the project expenses would be covered in full by the state grant, including equipment costs and the installation of any necessary external infrastructure. A similar initiative from utility company Eversource would connect the charger to town power lines.
But the planning process will have to be expedited, Mr. Hannemann said, with a proposal deadline of March 19 fast approaching. Without state aid, a project to install chargers could cost the town $100,000, he said.
Selectmen voiced general support for the project, but raised concerns about the consequences of charging stations on an already over-congested area of town.
“I can say that this issue of parking at the Community Center and the library is a huge issue — we have debates about it every summer, everybody’s upset about it,” said selectman Warren Doty. “The Community Center advisory committee and the summer program need to be consulted if anything’s going to happen in the Chilmark lot.”
Mr. Doty also said four EV charging stations have been drawn into plans for the town’s new public safety buildings — a more appropriate placement, he said.
Community Center director Alexandra London-Thompson agreed, voicing worries over approving a plan with little time to work out its details.
“I know that choosing the Community Center as your primary location is not the best idea for us without having been able to vet that more,” said Ms. Thompson. “Parking is a nightmare as it is, it’s unsafe, we have a lot of problems as it is.”
Selectman Bill Rossi suggested the post office parking lot as a possible location, while Jim Malkin proposed the adjacent school lot.
In the end selectmen voted to authorize the proposal with the post office and school lot as the preliminary locations. The grant may be refused or the final location may change if issues arise, they said, and the energy committee should continue to consult with town organizations, school administrators and other local leaseholders to vet additional sites.
“I think that’s the way to go, with those two locations and then it would be up to us to obtain permission or authority,” said Mr. Rossi.
In other business Tuesday, Julie Fay and Laura Silber of the Coalition to Create the Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank came before the selectmen to request a municipal representative to join the organization.
The coalition, which aims to create an Islandwide housing bank funded by real estate transfer fees, was recently re-formed.
Selectmen voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Doty as the Chilmark representative.
The board voted to accept a gift of $10,000 to the Chilmark police department from an anonymous resident. The donation stipulates that the force should use the funds broadly to assist officers doing their jobs, police chief Jonathan Klaren said. Selectmen also accepted an anticipated gift of $3,300 to the department to help cover the cost of a speed sign in Menemsha.
Selectmen also voted to approve a project to remove a broken fence at Squibnocket beach and granted the Climate Working Group $3,400 to distribute laminated storm and fire safety pamphlets to town residents.