Police called after Land Bank meeting becomes unruly

Tradewinds supporters accused of profane language, threatening behavior.

5
John Krowski says he did refuse to leave the Land Bank meeting, but it was in protest to executive sessions, not the Tradewinds issue.

The issue over dogs and the fence at Trade Wind Fields Preserve, known as Tradewinds, has reached a new low — this time involving police.

At Monday’s Land Bank Commission meeting in Edgartown, police were called after John Krowski of Edgartown, one of the people in the audience, refused to leave after the commission voted to go into executive session.

The issue of the fence, which the commission has been steadfast in supporting to protect habitat, was not on the agenda, but several people spoke out during public comment about that issue.

Those same members of the public stayed throughout the meeting, and most left when the commission voted to go into executive session, Priscilla Sylvia, the Land Bank Commission chairman, said. One man refused.

“He was waving his arms and threatening,” Sylvia told The Times. “I asked James to call police because he scared me.” James is Land Bank executive director James Lengyel.

Krowski said he did refuse to leave, but his position has nothing to do with Tradewinds. Instead, he’s become distrustful of the Land Bank and, particularly, its executive sessions.

Boards are allowed to go into executive session, which excludes the public, under certain exemptions provided under the state’s Open Meeting Law. In this case, it was the land acquisition exemption.

The idea is that speaking publicly about the purchase of real estate would hurt the government body’s bargaining position.

“He was standing and shouting and refused to leave,” Sylvia said.

The Land Bank should be more specific about its executive sessions, Krowski said. He said he’s been in touch with the Attorney General’s office and knows there is a process to follow to appeal the executive sessions. He intends to follow that process now, he said.

“I’m on a crusade about their executive sessions,” he told The Times. Krowski said he’s served on boards in Canton, and he believes the Land Bank commission is not being transparent. As for how he acted, he said doesn’t believe he was threatening in any way.

“I’m not a violent person,” he said. “But I could be called a rascal. I tell it like it is.”

Earlier in the meeting, Sylvia said she had to gavel another member of the public who she said was using profanity.

The Times has been unable to reach him. Phil Cordella, who has acted as a spokesman for the Friends of Tradewinds group, told The Times he didn’t condone the behavior. On the Facebook page, he wrote that he would have done things differently.

“As I’ve said to the Land Bank, people would not be even thinking about the Land Bank had they not put up the fence,” he said. “Had they not been so uncompromising and mean, people would not be looking at them. They brought this all on themselves.”

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said the report has not been completed, but based on the initial one there isn’t likely to be any further police action. “I don’t see us charging the guy,” he said.

One thing Krowski and Sylvia agreed on is that the young officer Curtis Chandler, who responded to the meeting, was respectful in handling the situation.

Sylvia said she had Lengyel call because order needed to be restored. “This was way over the top,” she said. “It had become so out of hand it was necessary to call police.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. yes, you can protest– but in the end, the police have final say—
    This over a fence to keep dogs off an active airfield ? if someone’s dog got killed by a plane , who would they sue ? — yup– you are correct– the land bank– they own it. And if someone was landing a plane and they hit a dog and crashed and died, who would the family sue? — yup, right again– the land bank..
    get over it wtf’s it is not your right to be there.

    • Nope, not over the fence. The poor conduct by one man who was upset about the secretive LB executive sessions, not the fence, were why the police were called. I actually agree about the dog walkers being in the wrong in this case, but what happens when one entitled group, dog walkers, butts heads with another extremely entitled, powerful, and self righteously smug and secretive group, the Land Bank, there is going to be a problem. It’s time for the Land Bank to go, for James Lengyel to disclose his hidden salary, paid for by the public, and for conserved island land to be managed under one umbrella. When different conservation groups become competitors for properties, it’s time for Islanders to speak up… and definitely time to protest how the Land Bank conducts itself in secrecy while paying itself with money taken from the public. The LB’s greed for more and more land, while a housing crisis continues, needs to stop. The 2% tax should now go to housing, not to the LB.

      • It was a pleasure reading your excellent descriptive explanation of the situation. Even better offering a solution. This is a local issue that can make a huge difference on Martha’s Vineyard the land bank needs to be reformed and affordable housing should be the priority. Unfortunately the island media avoids this issue, an investigation into the Land Bank would uncover many unsettling facts: for example how much debt the Land Bank has and if revenues do not cover expenses the towns are on the hook for payment.

      • Agreed. The secrecy should be swept aside. Democracy works best when it is transparent. Also the fence should be re-aligned to keep dogs off the airefield rather than to keep dogs out. However, the 2% should be left as-is. The island needs the LB to act as a counterweight to ongoing development. However, I’ve the land is acquired, it should ALWAYS be publicly accessible.

Previous articleColonel gets high-decibel salute in Vineyard Haven
Next articleChappy cell tower heads to town warrant