Edgartown selectmen ask ACE MV for a business plan


The executive director and founder of Adult and Community Education of Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV), Lynn Ditchfield, made the case to the Edgartown selectmen Monday for financial support from the town.

Ms. Ditchfield and an ACE MV board member, Sam Hart, are seeking a total of $130,587 from the six Island towns combined to support the nonprofit’s operating expenses. They have asked for $40,286 from Edgartown. Selectmen want to see a business model.

Founded in 2008, ACE MV offers 110 courses in the fall, winter and spring. Mr. Hart said there has been a 92.5 percent increase in student enrollment since the program’s inception.

“For the past six years ACE MV has been a catalyst for lifelong learning and community engagement, but has now outgrown its current financial capacity and heavy reliance on volunteer staffing,” Mr. Hart said. “To keep our programs running, we will need to rely on more sustainable funding moving forward.”

Mr. Hart told selectmen that ACE MV is seeking assistance from the office of the school superintendent Jim Weiss, and he pointed to Nantucket’s business model as an example in which adult education classes receive financial assistance from the town. “Nantucket can be a useful model for us because it’s clear, without some form of public support, adult education on our Island will have little chance of being realized long term.”

“I’m afraid that this thing is dead in the water,” Grace Sullivan of ACE’s advisory council told selectmen. “And then at some point, someone is going to pick it up again because community education for adults, elderly, non-traditional learners, English as a second language is not going to be dead for long. But resuscitation in a patient that has been dead for several years is going to be much more difficult than rescuing a patient who’s now on life support.”

Selectman Art Smadbeck asked for information about the Nantucket business model and how it would be applied on Martha’s Vineyard.

“Under the current model, we can’t do anything,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “I think that if there was a model that we could look at and possibly have Dr. Weiss explain to us how he is going to fold this into the school system, then I think you can talk about public money.”

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Ms. Ditchfield said she is hopeful that the towns will provide the funding to keep her organization afloat.

“I think it went as expected,” Ms. Ditchfield told The Times. “What we would like hear from the towns is, ‘This program is amazing, you’ve been running on a shoestring budget, and we will do whatever we can to make sure it’s funded.'”

Ms. Ditchfield planned to meet with Tisbury selectmen and Chilmark selectmen Tuesday to make a similar pitch.

New solar canopy?

In other business Monday, South Mountain Company president John Abrams and energy manager Rob Meyers gave selectmen a look at a proposed design for a solar canopy at the town park and ride lot off Dark Woods Road near the Triangle.

Mr. Abrams and Mr. Meyers are responsible for building the solar canopy at the Cronig’s Market in Tisbury. The canopy at the Dark Woods lot would be similar in purpose and design to the Cronig’s canopy, Mr. Meyers said.

“One of the reasons why we believe so strongly in using parking lots and using landfills is you’ve got real estate that’s already distressed, and its been used for one purpose and one purpose only,” Mr. Meyers told selectmen.

The canopies would produce around 400-500 kilowatt hours per year and offer protection from snow and rain, he said.

In the midst of a pending deal with Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC), selectman Art Smadbeck expressed concern about supporting yet another solar energy project in Edgartown.

“The thing that I’m not sure about is the need,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “If our solar projects get built, we might not have the need.”

Mr. Meyers said “if” is the operative word.

“It would be good to see where your CVEC project goes, if it really does go. If it doesn’t, this is a tremendous opportunity for the town,” Mr. Meyers said.

South Mountain gave no cost details. In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Mr. Abrams said the point of the Monday presentation was to introduce the idea.

In other business, selectmen extended to Friday, November 8, a deadline for the removal of moving equipment from the Schifter House on Chappaquiddick via barge.

Terry Small, a civil engineer for Sourati Engineering Group, told selectmen that the barge needed to remove the equipment has been delayed due to weather.

“Everything that’s in the staging area now, all of the equipment will be gone by Friday,” Mr. Small told selectmen.

The equipment includes several hundred tons of steel beams, jacks, dollies, cribbing, multiple power units, and shipping containers filled with various tools. It will be transported by barge to Maryland where Expert House Movers, a fourth generation moving company contracted to work on the project, is located.

Next week’s selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12.