Authors Posts by Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler

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The public fishing pier in Oak Bluffs is a popular destination that is enjoyed by fishermen and non-fishermen alike. —File photo by Nelson Sigelman

Acting on a request from the state Division of Marine Fisheries, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) last month approved modifications to the Oak Bluffs public fishing pier that will include bait-cutting surfaces on the railing and a hand-operated water pump. But the MVC scaled back a request to place solar powered lights along the length of the pier, which has become a popular stroll.

The MVC review sparked some sharp exchanges among the commissioners. Several commission members disagreed on whether the improvements were significant enough to require a public hearing, and whether the addition of lights is necessary.

Funded and built by the state’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA), the pier is the largest public saltwater pier in the state. The MVC approved the pier as a development of regional impact over the objections of abutters on November 18, 2010. A grand opening attended by town and state officials was held on June 19, 2014.

In a recap of the project at the MVC’s September 18 meeting, staff coastal planner Jo-Ann Taylor reminded the commissioners that the DRI decision included two conditions relevant to the proposed modifications: that the pier would not be lighted, and that it would not be equipped with amenities such as running water and electricity, according to a televised recording of the meeting.

Public hearing or not?

The MVC’s first battle line was over the need for a public hearing.

“The land use planning committee [LUPC] did recommend that because the subject of lights on the pier was a concern during the original approval, and it seemed if we were going to change something of concern where we had written ‘there shall be none,’ there should be a public hearing,” LUPC chairman Linda Sibley of West Tisbury said.

West Tisbury member Erik Hammarlund and Chilmark member Doug Sederholm agreed. “I think it’s important we give the fishing community the opportunity to comment, and the neighbors,” Mr. Sederholm said.

“I completely disagree,” Tisbury member Josh Goldstein said. “I think this is a safety issue. These are tiny lights.

“Doesn’t this commission have better things to do? This is an outrageous waste of our time, and this is why people think the commission is such a waste.”

Chilmark member Joan Malkin said that although she understood Mr. Goldstein’s position, she thought a hearing was needed and it would be helpful for the commissioners and public to see a couple of sample solar lights installed at the pier in advance.

“I would like to expedite it, but it seems ridiculous but necessary to go through the process,” Ms. Malkin said.

Ross Kessler, Public Access Coordinator for the Division of Marine Fisheries, had installed some sample solar lights on a post in the MVC’s driveway before the meeting. On a suggestion by Kathy Newman of Aquinnah, commissioners went outside to look at the lights. On their return, MVC chairman Fred Hancock called for a vote on a motion that the proposed modifications would require a public hearing. It was defeated 7 to 6.

Lights for safety — or not?

After the public hearing vote, Mr. Hancock said the next question was whether the commissioners wanted to see some sample lights installed on the pier before making a decision.

Mr. Kessler suggested the downward-facing lights be placed low on the inside of the pier posts to illuminate the walkway, and spaced about 20 feet apart, with five along the end of the “L.” He said that DMF would like to take the lights down on November 30 and reinstall them on April 1, to avoid the wear and tear of winter weather.

Mr. Goldstein made a motion to approve the pier modifications as submitted by the applicant. Mr. Hammarlund took the lead when Mr. Hancock asked if there was further discussion.

“I think that putting lights on is ridiculous,” said Mr. Hammarlund, who practices law in Vineyard Haven. “Yes, of course, it is safer — well, it is and it isn’t — lights, when you make things safer, it tempts people to use them.

“You’re more likely to go out there on a slippery night if there are lights than you would if it’s dark,” he added, noting they were also “ugly.”

Ms. Newman said she agreed with Ms. Malkin and would like Mr. Kessler to install a few lights on the pier first to see what it would look like.

“We’re going to ask the state to put them up, and then if we say no, they’ll have to pay to take them down?” Mr. Goldstein questioned.

“We’d be very willing to put them up at the end in the L, so where people are fishing at night there would be some illumination to tie a knot or unhook a fish,” Mr. Kessler said.

“Can I ask how did the need for lights come up; is there a safety issue?” Ms. Newman continued.

“Jesus, yes,” commissioner Clarence “Trip” Barnes of Tisbury exclaimed.

“How many people have been hurt on the dock?” Mr. Hammarlund asked.

“We had a visit over here this spring before the ribbon-cutting, and some of our administrators came,” Mr. Kessler explained. “One of first things our director brought up was, why aren’t there any lights on the pier? We were a major funder to the pier, but we were not the engineers and didn’t deal with any of the permitting.”

Differences of opinion among fishermen about the need for lighting at the pier also came up.

“It may appear to be a no-brainer to put lights on for safety. However, I was approached by two different members of the fishing community in the past week, both of whom thought it was absurd to put lights out there,” Mr. Sederholm said. Mr. Hancock asked if they said why.

“For one thing, they said fishermen always have their own lights; that was their main reason,” Mr. Sederholm said, adding, “But of course there are other people who would use it, too.”

“Doug found a couple of fishermen who don’t like lights; I can tell you myself as a fishermen in the Derby, I wouldn’t mind having lights there,” Edgartown commissioner Jim Joyce said. “You’ll find fishermen on either side.”

Expressing concern that the commission would reach a stalemate, Ms. Malkin asked Mr. Kessler, “If the decision was to be only with lights on the L, would that make you happy or not?”

“Right now, yes,” Mr. Kessler said.

Ms. Malkin asked to amend Mr. Goldstein’s motion to approve the pump, bait stations, and lighting at the end of the L, from April 1 to Nov. 30. Mr. Goldstein agreed, “with reluctance.”

In a vote taken by roll call, nine commissioners voted yes. Mr. Hammarlund and Mr. Hancock voted no. Christina Brown of Edgartown, Mr. Sederholm, and Ms. Sibley abstained.

“God, that was painful,” Ms. Malkin exclaimed once the issue had been resolved.

The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with a six bedroom affordable apartment building. —File photo by Michael Cummo

The Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA) unanimously approved a six-unit affordable rental apartment building on Water Street at a hearing on Friday. The written decision on a comprehensive permit for the Island Housing Trust’s (IHT) project, with conditions, is expected to be finalized this week.

The initial design proposal included no onsite parking, other than a temporary parking spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs. After an almost two-hour discussion, the ZBA agreed to require two additional parking spaces, and require that IHT ensure parking be available for every apartment unit off-site, whether at the Park and Ride lot or downtown.

Tisbury offers permits for residents on William Street and Main Street in Vineyard Haven to park on side streets overnight. IHT executive director Philippe Jordi said he would ask the selectmen to extend that privilege to the Water Street apartment tenants.

If that is not an option, the cost of an annual Park and Ride lot permit, which is $50 for year-round Tisbury residents, would be included in the rent. Tenants that do not own cars would be given a credit on their lease for the cost of the permit.

In addition, the ZBA agreed to require IHT to incorporate noise and vibration mitigation measures such as triple-paned windows; design a minimum of one unit according to universal design principles to enhance accessibility; prohibit delivery of modular construction materials between Memorial Day and Labor Day; and submit a landscaping plan to the board for approval.

No rubber-stamp process

IHT began planning the Water Street project after it received a donation of an uninhabitable house and property in 2012 from Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier, with a deed restricting all or part of its use to affordable housing.

IHT applied for a comprehensive permit from the ZBA through Chapter 40B, a state statute that enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) reviewed IHT’s proposed Water Street affordable housing as a development of regional impact and approved it last July. Tisbury’s ZBA opened its public hearing on the project on August 14 and closed it on September 11.

The board reopened the hearing on September 23 in order to obtain new information from IHT executive director Philippe Jordi, particularly in regard to a proposed condition, that IHT downsize the project from six units to four units and how that would impact costs.

On Friday, Mr. Jordi explained that four units would make the project ineligible for state funding because a minimum of five is required for rental housing. The lack of onsite parking, however, proved to be the ZBA’s main point of contention.

ZBA chairman Jeff Kristal started the discussion by taking critics of the ZBA’s process to task. He said two people who attended the previous hearing session who were not present Friday had accosted two ZBA members afterwards about taking so long to make a decision.

“For anybody to say we don’t want affordable housing and we don’t want this project, we’re not a rubber stamp of the MVC, and if we were, we wouldn’t be here,” Mr. Kristal said. “We’ll look at it, we’ll make it better, just like the MVC does when they look over their projects, and we’ll all walk away hopefully happy, especially with a 40B.”

Vineyard Conservation Society President Richard Toole, a former MVC member, told Mr. Kristal that the way the commission handled the Water Street project’s review was a compliment to the ZBA, an acknowledgement that a local board could deal with the issues because it knows “the nitty-gritty” better than the commission.

“I think it was a unanimous vote by the commission; it went right through there,” Mr. Toole said. “The MVC said great, give it to you guys, and you’ll know what to do with it.”

The board’s ensuing discussion focused mainly on parking solutions.

“I’m okay with six [units], but I’m not okay with no parking,” Mr. Kristal said.

“I feel the same way,” board member Sue Fairbanks added.

Mr. Kristal argued that tenants would need a place to park temporarily after running errands, for example, to drop off groceries. He suggested that a planting area in front of the building could be reduced to gain space for parking.

Mr. Kristal, Ms. Fairbanks, and board members Mike Ciancio, Tony Holand, and Neal Stiller voted unanimously to close the public hearing and approve the decision with amendments as discussed, with the caveat that they would review the final language in another public session this week if required for clarification.

Public comments

Before the board’s deliberations, Mr. Kristal opened the floor to public comment. The hearing attracted some strong supporters who spoke in favor of the project, including Planning Board chairman Dan Seidman and board member Cheryl Doble, and Carl McLaurin, an Oak Bluffs resident who works for the state’s department of housing and community development.

“Even if there are any things you might not like about the lot, the greater good is we’re providing an excellent location that’s going to be easy for people to live in and meet their needs in all different ways,” Mr. Seidman said.

“Although I know some people think we’re against housing, we’re just against housing in the wrong place,” Mr. Toole said. “We think this project is in the right place. It’s smart growth. Keep new growth in town, and let rural areas stay as rural as possible.”

David Vigneault, executive director of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, the agency that will manage the apartment building for IHT, spoke of the current need for affordable housing, especially for households with income below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Mr. Vigneault said the housing authority’s wait list has a total of 63 one-person households and 60 two-person households Island-wide that could make use of the apartments. Of those, 25 one-person households and 11 two-person households are in Tisbury.

Although he did not know how many on the waiting list own cars, Mr. Vigneault said, “People live where they can and they’re pretty happy to get the rents that IHT is offering here.”

Tisbury resident Mary McManama said she was fortunate enough to find a small studio apartment she can afford with the housing authority’s help, and would love to live in one of the Water Street apartments. “I have a car but could make arrangements to keep it somewhere other than where I live, if I needed to,” she said.

“Any more cars added to Five Corners, even three, is more traffic, and traffic and the number of cars there is already a problem,” IHT chairman Richard Leonard reminded everyone. “Plenty of people indicated they’d live there without parking, and there are solutions available for them.”

The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with a six bedroom affordable apartment building. —File photo by Michael Cummo

Following a two-year planning, financing, and permitting process and with the end in sight, what the Island Housing Trust (IHT) thought was the light at the end of the tunnel for their affordable rental apartment project on Water Street in Vineyard Haven may be a train. IHT executive director Philippe Jordi told The Times this week that the Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is contemplating conditions for the project that would render the project no longer financially viable.

“To do these types of projects we need to have equal sums of money invested locally as well as on the state level,” Mr. Jordi told The Times in a phone conversation on Tuesday. “To make this feasible from the state’s perspective, we need to have at least five or more units. That’s the threshold.”

The ZBA is scheduled to meet and render a decision on a comprehensive permit at a meeting at 10 am on Friday at the town hall annex off High Point Lane. ZBA officials said the meeting time, in the morning during working hours, best accommodates the board member’s schedules.

IHT proposes to build a six-unit, two-story, 3,600-square-foot building on the site of a decrepit house adjacent to the Stop & Shop. There would be no onsite parking, other than a temporary parking spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs.

IHT received site eligibility approval for the project from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) last May. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) unanimously approved the project on July 17.

IHT is seeking a comprehensive permit from the ZBA through Chapter 40B, a state statute that enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20 to 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.

Tisbury’s ZBA, the last stop on the permitting trail, opened its public hearing on August 14 and closed it on September 11. At its next meeting on September 23, on the advice of lawyer Ilana Quirk, the board voted to reopen the hearing in order to obtain new information from Mr. Jordi that included additional project financial analyses to show how the conditions would impact project costs.

Ms. Quirk cautioned that if a condition or set of conditions would render the project more uneconomic, the board would need to justify whatever it was imposing with evidence of local concerns that would outweigh the regional need for affordable housing.

The ZBA agreed on a set of possible conditions that included a reduction in the number of units from six to four; adding four on-site parking spaces; mitigating vibrations from street traffic; and working with the town and neighboring property owners to install a new sidewalk to the corner of Beach Street. The board asked Mr. Jordi to provide project pro formas to show how the conditions would impact costs, and scheduled the Friday hearing to review the new information and make a decision.

Costs rise

On September 29, Mr. Jordi submitted three financial statements to the ZBA. One described the project as submitted for the original six-unit rental project to the state Department of Housing and Community Development last May. Mr. Jordi noted that the application guidelines for state funding require a five-unit minimum for rental housing projects. Building six units would also work better for modular construction, which is less expensive.

The second financial analysis was based on the proposed ZBA conditions. “The revised pro forma shows a project shortfall of $291,590 that is mainly due to the loss of state DHCD grant funding resulting from the project’s ineligibility under the attached HSF [Housing Stabilization Funding] guidelines,” Mr. Jordi said in his submission. “This budget shortfall makes the project impossible to proceed and is ‘uneconomic.'”

The third statement includes the original six-unit project, with the addition of the cost of year-round parking for the tenants at Tisbury’s park and ride lot off High Point Lane.

“The $350 annual parking permit cost per car is included in the pro forma, resulting in a $30,000 budget shortfall,” Mr. Jordi said. In regard to noise and vibration mitigation, he added that IHT plans for the building to have 9 inches of insulated walls, floors and ceilings, and triple glazed windows.

Mr. Jordi followed up the submissions with an email dated October 3 to the ZBA. “After meeting with the Island Housing Trust’s Project Development Committee this week,” he wrote, “it was determined that fewer than six apartments renders the project uneconomic; parking for more than one car within the proposed site plan is not feasible; and adding more on-site parking to an already failed traffic area is not in our tenants or the public’s best interest.”

In a phone conversation Wednesday, Mr. Jordi said he will be accompanied at Friday’s hearing by an attorney from the Lawyers Clearinghouse, an organization that matches pro bono lawyers with nonprofits and the homeless. Mr. Jordi described IHT’s options.

“In the very unfortunate situation that this is either denied or conditioned in such a way that makes the project unworkable, we have the ability to appeal through what’s called the Housing Appeals Committee, something set up specifically for the 40B process, through the State Department of Housing and Community Development,” Mr. Jordi said. “We’ve never had to do this, and we hope we never will, but it is an option if we’re forced to.”

Collaborative effort

IHT began planning the Water Street project after it received a donation of an uninhabitable house and property in 2012 from Cronig’s Market owner Steve Bernier, with a deed restricting all or part of its use to affordable housing.

IHT invited several local architects to come up with conceptual designs and held public meetings for neighboring property owners and the public. IHT also worked closely with Tisbury’s Affordable Housing Committee, Planning Board, Historic Commission, and building department to come up with the preferred design.

To gauge the amount of interest in the Water Street apartments, IHT conducted a survey of nearly 100 one- and two-person households on the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority’s rental wait list.

“The overwhelming majority (66 percent) of those who responded were very interested in renting in downtown Vineyard Haven at the proposed Water Street apartments with no on-site parking, 5 percent were somewhat interested, and 29 percent were not interested,” Mr. Jordi said in an email dated October 3 responding to questions from the ZBA.

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A crowd of grateful Islanders greeted his ferry on Saturday.

There were smiles and hugs all around for CWO2 Wender Ramos from his longtime friends, the Boyd family, including Kyle (from left), Aaron, Heidi and Lauren; far right is Legion member Bob Nute. –Photo by Michael Cummo

Army helicopter pilot Wender Ramos returned from Afghanistan in the service of his adopted country to the warm embrace of his community Saturday night. Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO2) Ramos arrived home at 7 pm to the sound of sirens, flashing lights, cheering and applause from a crowd of friends, family and grateful Island veterans.

Geralda Silva hugs her son, Wender Ramos, in an emotional reunion after his nine-month deployment to Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot.
Geralda Silva hugs her son, Wender Ramos, in an emotional reunion after his nine-month deployment to Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot.

His sister Viviane Ramos and cousin Daniel Monteiro accompanied him down the ferry ramp to a tearful and happy reunion with his mother, Geralda Silva, of Vineyard Haven.

Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy helped arrange the homecoming, which included a color guard made up of local veterans and first responders and their emergency vehicles, which added some ear- and eye-catching pizzazz to the celebration. Several departing passengers, after learning what all the fanfare was about, walked over to thank the returned soldier.

“This is awesome,” Mr. Ramos said of his surprise homecoming celebration.

American Legion Post 257 Commander Buddy Oliver, left, and Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy welcomed Wender Ramos home.
American Legion Post 257 Commander Buddy Oliver, left, and Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy welcomed Wender Ramos home.

In a phone conversation with The Times on Monday, Mr. Ramos said his sister managed to keep his homecoming event a complete surprise. Even as they got off the boat, he had no clue.

I didn’t notice; I was talking to my sister as we walked down the ramp and then I saw the American flag,” Mr. Ramos said. “And she said, ‘That’s for you,’ and then the sirens went off.”

He was honored, surprised, and happy at the turnout. “I appreciate everybody’s time, especially on a Saturday night, when I’m sure they all had something better to do.”


Duty in Afghanistan

CWO2 Wender Ramos, U.S. Army, piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy of Wender Ramos.
CWO2 Wender Ramos, U.S. Army, piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy of Wender Ramos.

Mr. Ramos, 32, deployed on January 21 for a nine-month tour to Afghanistan as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He returned to the States on September 21.

He was first stationed at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Shank, in Eastern Afghanistan. He later moved to Bagram Air Field, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

We were an air assault unit, but that wasn’t the main thing we did,” he said. “Basically it was just moving people around from place to place. They’re closing down a lot of small outposts, so we’d go pick people up, drop them off, and deliver supplies.”

The crew typically included another pilot, and a crew chief and door gunner that manned guns on each side of the helicopter. Fortunately, he said, they did not experience enemy fire.

There were a lot of people that had that to worry about, but my job was probably one of the safest,” he added. “I was lucky.”

Mr. Ramos chuckled before describing what he missed the most. “You miss going into your own shower and not having to bring a bag with you,” he said. “And driving wherever you want to go. Small things like that, aside from the obvious — family, friends, foods you want to eat.”


Taking flight

Mr. Ramos said his interest in flying and the military dates back to childhood. A native of Brazil, he and his sister arrived on Martha’s Vineyard from Brazil in 1994 to join their mother, who moved to the Island a year earlier.

He started at Edgartown School as an eighth-grader. He didn’t speak English when he first arrived, but that changed quickly. “As a kid, after about three months, I started picking it up,” he said.

Friends at school helped him out. “And I just jumped in,” he said. “The adjustment was really nothing.”

Mr. Ramos said he and his family moved often because of the Island’s seasonal rental housing market. “We never lived in a place for more than about six months,” he said.

He graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1999.

He  attended Bridgewater State College and joined the ROTC, but had to quit after a semester because the commute to participate in the nearest program at Boston University was too difficult. In the meantime, he earned his private pilot’s license.

He graduated with a B.S. degree in aviation sciences in 2006, and went to work for a company that ran tradeshows. “I bought a condo in East Bridgewater and all that stuff, and stayed and paid bills, and eventually I thought, all right, I’ve got to go and do this,” Mr. Ramos said.

“I was 28 when I joined the Army, and I think the cut-off for a pilot is 33. I thought, if I don’t do this now, I’m never going to do it, and I really missed flying.”


Citizen soldier

His decision ultimately helped him achieve two dreams, to become a U.S. citizen and to serve in the defense of his adoptive country.

Mr. Ramos enlisted in the Army in 2010 and completed basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. As part of the basic training process, he applied for his U.S. citizenship.

I thought it would take a long time,” Mr. Ramos recalled. “But I filled out some paperwork, and it only took a few months. I didn’t think it would be that quick and smooth, but it was. It’s great they had a program to speed that up and help out.”

He said he wanted to become a citizen in the country where he had spent most of his life. I don’t have a lot of contact with people in Brazil,” Mr. Ramos said. “It just completed living here. It’s really special to me that it happened, because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

Following basic training, he was stationed in Germany as a mechanic servicing and repairing Chinook helicopters used in Afghanistan and Iraq. After one year, he applied to be a pilot and was accepted to Warrant Officers Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in 2011.

Mr. Ramos spent a total of about 18 months at Fort Rucker, including seven weeks of warrant officer’s training and flight school, which he finished in August, 2013. He was trained to fly the Blackhawk helicopter and the C-12, the military version of a twin turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft based on the Beechcraft Super King Air.

CWO2 Ramos was assigned to Fort Campbell as a Blackhawk pilot.

When I finish this assignment I’m hoping to go fly the C-12, to get some experience on both,” he said. “But I’m happy flying, either way.”

He said he is not scheduled for overseas deployment for probably a few years. In the meantime, CWO2 Ramos plans to enjoy the next two to three weeks on Martha’s Vineyard, catching up with friends and family.

His mother is currently self-employed as a housecleaner, after working for 12 years at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. His sister Viviane works for the Orleans Bowling Center. Both work long hours, Mr. Ramos said, and their communication with him in Afghanistan was limited to messages on Facebook.

We were so happy to hear his voice again on the phone, when he got back to the States,” Ms. Ramos told The Times.


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The first of three workshops was held Tuesday night.

For two hours the Tisbury Senior Center hummed with animated conversations Tuesday night among the 60 or so people that attended the first of three Vision Planning workshops the Tisbury planning board will host.

“One of the basic problems in Vineyard Haven is that you can walk downtown in the middle of the summer in the evening, and find that Main Street is empty,” Avi Lev remarked to the discussion group he sat with. “There’s nothing going on, so no one stays here.”

He suggested that Main Street be spiced up with some outdoor cafes, music, and dancing. That brought nods from several people who agreed that the town’s nightlife is somewhat lacking.

The workshop opened with introductory remarks from planning board member Cheryl Doble, who spearheaded the initiative and formerly ran a community design center for the State University of New York.

“I think a vision plan is really important,” Ms. Doble said. “When you have a sense of where you’re headed, it’s a lot easier to end up there.”

She explained why the board chose to take on the project, which has the support of the selectmen and other town departments. “Number one, we want to see more public participation in town planning,” Ms. Doble said. “We want your input and we feel it will be very helpful in our decision-making. We want a better understanding of community values, and that’s something that doesn’t always come out in some of the other planning sessions, and we’ll be trying to sort through that.”

Ms. Doble said vision planning also offers the opportunity to take a comprehensive look at issues in the town. “So instead of just being focused on a particular issue here and another here, we want to start to understand the relationships between some of our challenges and some of our opportunities,” she explained.

Ms. Doble also set some ground rules for the workshop. “This is not the time for debate,” she said. “Tonight is to listen and to build constructively on the ideas that are coming forth.”

With that said, no one seemed to be at a loss for words as members of the Vision Planning Committee guided participants at four large tables through a series of activities and recorded their answers on large easel-backed tablets.

The committee includes 12 representatives from the business community, town boards, committees, and organizations, Tisbury School Principal John Custer, and selectman Melinda Loberg.

For the first activity, participants were given a map of Tisbury and asked to mark where they live, draw a circle around the area they consider their neighborhood, and outline any walking and bike routes they regularly use.

Questions on the back of the sheet asked what places in Tisbury they go to every two to three days, and what activities they like to do but are unable to do in Tisbury.

For the next three exercises, participants listed Tisbury’s treasures, challenges, and opportunities. Discussions were held on each topic, and every participant was asked to contribute to a list. Listed treasures included Lake Tashmoo and Lagoon Pond, a downtown grocery store, the Katharine Cornell and Capawock theaters, Main Street, Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, Tisbury School’s March to the Sea tradition, Owen Park band concerts, the Thrift Store, and the town’s diverse population and “Vineyard vibe.”

In regard to the town’s challenges, responses included decrepit buildings, traffic, providing more public transportation for seniors, too many parking lots, the need for more affordable housing, zoning ordinances, and an attitude of resistance to change among many town residents.

On the topic of opportunities the town might use to address its challenges, respondents suggested adding sidewalks and bike paths, electing leaders with a vision that bucks the status quo, decreasing the number of parking lots, providing better access to the town’s waterfront, zoning changes to allow more apartments and year-round low-cost housing, and utilizing the expertise of retired “experts” who live in the community.

For the final activity, participants were asked to write a description of what they envision Tisbury should look like 10 years from now.

Ms. Doble said that at the conclusion of this week’s workshops, the Planning Board will compile all of the information and hold another series of community workshops in November to discuss the responses and start work on a vision statement and strategies to accomplish it.

“In January we’ll be bringing people back again, and at that point, we’re really hoping to work on a vision plan, as well as how to make it happen,” Ms. Doble said.

For those who didn’t venture out in the evening’s drizzle, there are two more opportunities to participate. Additional workshops will be held from 10 am to 12 pm on Friday at the Vineyard Haven Library and at the same time on Saturday at the Tisbury Emergency Services Facility.

“We had a great turnout, and really appreciate all the folks that came,” Planning Chairman Dan Seidman said after the workshop. However, since the majority appeared to be age 50 and up, he added, “We would like to get some younger points of view as well, and hope we’ll get participation from people of all ages.”

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The sale of Saltwater restaurant in Tisbury Marketplace has been held up in the Tisbury planning board.

The planned sale of Saltwater restaurant in the Tisbury Marketplace by owner Reid “Sam” Dunn to Mary and Jackson Kenworth, owners of State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, moved closer to fruition last Wednesday with long-awaited approvals from the Tisbury planning board.

The Kenworths, who have developed a reputation for quality service and food, said although their plans aren’t complete yet, their concept to date is to operate a seasonal restaurant, serving dinner only, in the dining room. In an area to the left of the front entrance, they want to operate a year-round coffee bar and sell prepared food items such as baked goods, salads, and sandwiches.

The deal has simmered since last May, when the Kenworths entered into an agreement with Mr. Dunn to buy Saltwater. As part of the purchase and sales agreement, the Kenworths’ attorneys requested that Mr. Dunn return to the planning board for an amendment to his special permit to reflect an accurate seat count and the addition of wait service in the screened-in porch.

Mr. Dunn applied to the Planning Board on May 13 to amend his special permit. Concurrently, the Kenworths applied for a special permit to operate a year-round food-service establishment at the Tisbury Marketplace site.

Over the next several months, Mr. Dunn had good reason to think he was on the griddle, and that the deal might not go through. At issue was a small screened-in porch and an increase in seating it created that were permitted by some local boards but not approved as a change by the Planning Board.

Regulatory maze

Mr. Dunn, an architect, developed and opened the Tisbury Marketplace off Beach Road in 1984 with a closely held partnership. The Tisbury Marketplace Condominium Association (TMCA) was formed in 1989, and the Marketplace’s spaces were individually purchased as condominiums. Mr. Dunn retained development rights for three areas for possible future expansion, including Saltwater’s site, formerly occupied by the Daily Grind restaurant.

Prior to opening Saltwater in summer 2008, Mr. Dunn said he received approval from the town board of health (BOH) and sewer-flow review board (SFRB) to increase the number of seats to 62. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved plans to screen in the patio and add seats in May 2009, judging it a modification that was not significant enough to require a public hearing.

Mr. Dunn said he also received approval from four town boards in the spring of 2009, including the site-plan review board, on which planning board co-chairman Tony Peak then served.

“I wasn’t referred back to the Planning Board at that time,” Mr. Dunn said. “I didn’t know I had to go, until I went to sell the restaurant. That’s when I realized I had never updated the special permit from the planning board.”

Mr. Dunn said he filed an application to amend his special permit last May, and the planning board began the public hearing on his application on June 4. Henry Stephenson and Dan Seidman served as the board’s co-chairmen at that time, and Mr. Stephenson ran the hearing. Mr. Seidman was out of town for the hearing’s start.

Planning Board delays

What Mr. Dunn thought would be a simple process was not. The hearing was continued to June 25 at the request of Mr. Peak, who raised complex questions about possible restrictions on the restaurant’s land use deriving from the Tisbury Marketplace condominium agreement. Mr. Peak said he needed to seek guidance from town legal counsel regarding condominium issues.

The board agreed and continued the hearing again to July 23, at which time Mr. Dunn said he was surprised to learn that one month had gone by and Mr. Peak had not yet presented his questions to town counsel David Doneski.

The friction between Mr. Peak and Mr. Dunn was obvious. At that meeting Mr. Peak read a statement in which he said he “had come to the conclusion that I have an irreconcilable conflict between what I could be potentially be called upon to do as an elected official and member of the board, and what I feel I would be prepared to do for personal reasons.”

Mr. Peak asked to be recused from participating because he said he did not feel he could be objective, according to the meeting minutes.

Mr. Stephenson then closed the hearing due to lack of a quorum, and Mr. Dunn asked to withdraw his application. He asked to reapply so that the planning board could schedule a new hearing as soon as possible.

In a two-page letter to Mr. Doneski dated July 23, Mr. Peak asked for guidance on numerous issues related to the regulatory framework for condominium developments and zoning bylaws. “These are confusing issues,” Mr. Peak said, “and unfortunately I think there are applicants who seek to profit improperly and, in my opinion, to the town’s detriment from this confusion.”

Mr. Stephenson resigned from the board in August. Without him and Mr. Peak, the board did not have a quorum. Mr. Dunn expressed concern that the process might take months, ending the deal with the Jacksons. Ben Robinson was appointed as a voting member on Sept. 3.

The question of a quorum was raised again last week. Mr. Peak made a brief appearance to recuse himself. Dan Seidman, board chairman, said  alternate member Doug Reece was ineligible to vote in Mr. Peak’s absence because he serves as the chairman of Tisbury Marketplace’s board of trustees, which is a conflict of interest since Mr. Dunn is one of the condominium owners.

Mr. Dunn’s attorney, Ron McCarron, disagreed, citing Mr. Reece’s lack of financial interest in the matter. Mr. Seidman said the decision was his to make as chairman, and he stuck by it.

After a brief conference in the hallway with Mr. Dunn and the Kenworths, Attorney McCarron said, “We would agree to proceed under protest and reserving any rights concerning the validity of the meeting and the decision.”

Mr. Seidman and board members Cheryl Doble, Ben Robinson, and Jeffry Thompson voted unanimously to approve an amended special permit for Mr. Dunn to allow the additional wait service on the porch and to include its 5 seats in the restaurant’s total, bringing it to 82.

The board also voted to grant a special permit to the Kenworths to operate an 82-seat year-round establishment at the Saltwater site from 9 am to 10 pm, and to relocate a sign for the restaurant that is currently mounted on a tree outside.

“I was very pleased with the decision,” Mr. Dunn told The Times afterward. “The hearing went on for a long time, but once they got down to the end, it was well done. Dan Seidman acted very professionally and did a really good job.”

Ms. Kenworth said they made the decision to apply for a seasonal, rather than year-round, beer and wine license from the town to start. Although there will be no seating in the coffee bar, she said patrons could sit in the screened-in porch and at picnic tables outside in nice weather.

The Kenworths said once the restaurant sale is final, they would submit proper plans to the condominium association and seek approval for any building improvements they might make.

Vineyard savvy

Saltwater features an elegant dining room with a high vaulted ceiling and a wall of windows overlooking Lagoon Pond. Saltwater received a beer and wine license in 2010.

Mr. Dunn said he decided to sell Saltwater because of a new bowling alley/entertainment center he is building in Oak Bluffs with partners Barry Reeves and Bob Sawyer, which will include a restaurant and bar.

“I think owning one restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard is enough for this ol’ grandpa,” he told The Times in a recent phone conversation.

The Kenworths, former owners of the Sweet Life Café and Slice of Life restaurants on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, opened their popular State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury in 2009. Their newest venture quickly gained a loyal following, and has attracted celebrity diners who include Barack and Michelle Obama.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that at the time of the June 4 hearing, Henry Stephenson and Tony Peak served as the board’s co-chairmen, and Mr. Stephenson ran the hearing. In fact, Henry Stephenson and Dan Seidman served as the board’s co-chairmen at that time, and Mr. Stephenson ran the hearing. Mr. Seidman was out of town for the hearing’s start.

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The Oak Bluffs School continued to show improvement in the latest round of MCAS test results.

MCAS tests scores released Friday place the Oak Bluffs, Chilmark and Edgartown schools at level one, the highest of the five state designations within which schools are required to meet their educational goals.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, West Tisbury School, Tisbury School and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School landed at level two, meaning they failed to meet their performance goals, but continue to demonstrate progress and improvement.

MCAS exams are the state’s standards-based student assessment program. Last spring, tests in English language arts (ELA) and math were administered statewide to students in grades 3-8 and 10, and science and technology/engineering to students in grades 5, 8, and 9/10.

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) James Weiss described the test scores as a “mixed bag,” in a press release issued Friday afternoon.

“First, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Chilmark remain level one schools, with strong Progress and Performance Indices (PPI),” Mr. Weiss said. “The high school remains a level two school. For the first time, Tisbury and West Tisbury are level two schools.”

Under a new accountability system put into effect in 2012, all schools with sufficient data are classified into levels one to five, with the highest performing in level one. The designation is based on a school’s progress and how well it meets growth targets, relative to other schools across the state that serve the same, or similar grades.

A total of 424 of 1,615 schools statewide, or 26 percent, are classified as level one for meeting their performance benchmarks, including gap narrowing goals. Another 854 schools, or 53 percent, are classified as level two, for not meeting their gap narrowing goals or for MCAS participation of less than 95 percent.

Mr. Weiss said although the Tisbury School dropped to a level two school, it continues to make progress in its overall performance.

“At West Tisbury, the upper grades have shown progress with more than 95 percent of students at or above proficient in English Language Arts; however, it did not show the amount of growth needed to continue as a Level 1 school,” he added.

Although designated a level 2 school for the second year in a row, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) is above target in English Language Arts for closing the achievement gap, Mr. Weiss said.

“It will need to focus on writing to see significant growth going forward,” he said. “In mathematics, it has made progress but still remains below target.”

PARCC impact

Mr. Weiss also pointed out that MCAS scores differ this year in that some students were exempt from the 2014 spring tests in ELA and math because their schools participated in a new assessment field test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). No scores were released for the PARCC ELA and math tests, which are being considered as a replacement for MCAS.

“Last year saw all the elementary schools piloting the new PARCC tests in some grades, and we are unsure what impact those pilots had on overall scores,” Mr. Weiss noted. “The MCAS results focus upon closing the gap between all students and the various sub-groups. Since all Island schools are all high achieving schools, the amount of growth needed to remain on target is difficult to reach.”

Highlights and next steps

Among the highlights of the MCAS results, Mr. Weiss said, Oak Bluffs School demonstrated significant growth in some of the demographic subgroups, with the high needs category at a PPI of 85.

“The school continues to make progress in mathematics and writing, receiving bonus points for moving students from needs improvement to proficient,” Mr. Weiss noted. “ At Edgartown, the school remains solid in both English Language Arts and mathematics, with an overall PPI of 84.”

Mr. Weiss said school staff have just begun their review of the MCAS results and much work remains to be done.

“Under the direction of assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea and the individual school principals, staff across the Island will look closely at what the MCAS data shows us and adjust instructional strategies where needed,” he said.

Charter School results

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) director Bob Moore spoke with The Times Friday afternoon about the MCAS results. “There are some results we’re really pleased about, and there are areas which we need to pay attention to, which we are looking forward to,” he said.

“We’re really pleased in some areas, where many of our student scored in the advanced category in math and science,” he said. “Those are really indications that the work we’ve been putting in, particularly in the area of math, has been very helpful for our students.”

Among the highlights, 100 percent of students scored proficient or higher on grade 8 ELA , grade 10 ELA, and grade 10 science tests.

Mr. Moore said he had not reviewed all of the data yet, including why MVPCS was designated a Level 2 school for the third year in a row.

“I assume it’s because the growth we saw was good, but maybe not as good as expected at the state level,” he said.

Full MCAS results are available online at

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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans a makeover of Beach Road. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Tisbury selectmen hosted a public discussion Tuesday night on a proposal from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to improve Beach Road. At times, members of the MassDOT team, which included civil engineers from Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), an engineering and construction-services firm hired to design the project, appeared confused and flabbergasted by the comments, as the discussion detoured away from the design options on the table for consideration.

The $1 million MassDOT Beach Road project, from Five Corners to the Wind’s Up watersports shop, is in a preliminary design phase. It is expected to receive federal funding in 2017.

The project evolved from a pre-feasibility study done in May 2009 regarding the extension of Martha’s Vineyard’s network of shared-use paths (SUPs). In August 2013 MassDOT contracted with GPI to design bike and pedestrian improvements along Beach Road.

At a meeting on July 29, John Diaz, director of traffic engineering at GPI, MassDOT project manager Thomas Currier, and District 5 project development engineer Pamela Haznar presented three conceptual plans with different options for sidewalks, bike lanes, and an SUP. They said they would return and ask the town which one it prefers to advance.

Tuesday night they returned for public discussion, attended by planning board members, Martha’s Vineyard Commission staff, other town board members, and interested residents.

Mr. Diaz said he went out Tuesday and put some pink stakes along a section of the road from Five Corners to the Shell station to provide an idea of Beach Road’s existing 40 to 40.5 feet right of way.

Town administrator Jay Grande asked about the possibility of utilizing “sharrows,” markings placed in the center of travel lanes, to indicate that a bicyclist may use the full lane, instead of a bike lane. Mr. Diaz said although that had not been discussed as a possible option, it would require a 43-foot right of way, as opposed to the existing one.

Mr. Currier explained that the state defines full bicycle accommodation as a width of five feet with defined shoulders, and a minimum of 11 feet for travel lanes. Anything less would be “shared use,” utilizing a wider-than-typical travel lane with sharrows. Mr. Currier said it would require approval of a design exception in the process and a sign-off from the state’s secretary of transportation.

Frank Brunelle of Vineyard Haven presented a petition with signatures he said he collected from Beach Road business owners. The petition opposed any takings of property by eminent domain, and opposed shared-use paths from Five Corners up to Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. Mr. Brunelle, a Beach Road property owner, said the signers favor putting sidewalks on both sides of Beach Road and all utility lines underground, and suggested more crosswalks are needed.

Sam Dunn, Tisbury Marketplace developer and the owner of Saltwater Restaurant on the south side of Beach Road, suggested the selectmen talk to property owners on the north side about allowing a sidewalk to be built on their property.

Vineyard Haven Marina general manager Liz Wild disagreed.

“I’m here representing a property owner who owns properties on the north and south side, and he’s adamantly opposed to giving up an inch of land,” she said.

Former MVC commissioner Ned Orleans suggested cutting off the discussion about a bike path on Beach Road, because the real problem is Five Corners. “We’re going to draw pretty pictures and show where the cars are going to go and how the bikes are going to go, and what the pedestrians will do, except that they don’t do it,” he said.

Ms. Haznar assured Mr. Orleans that MassDOT recognizes there is an issue at Five Corners and has plans to do a safety audit that formalizes the beginning of the process to address it.

“But as far as the Beach Road project, the purpose and need really is to improve pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular movement along Beach Road from Five Corners to the Lagoon Pond bridge, where that project ends,” she said.

Harold Chapdelaine, the selectmen’s MVC appointee and a member of the Tisbury Historical Commission, said he thinks the town should focus its energy on developing the off-road SUP that starts at Tisbury Marketplace, instead of adding two bike paths along Beach Road that will add traffic to Five Corners.

Craig Whitaker, a New York architect and seasonal resident who is an advocate of maintaining rural roads, said MassDOT should give Tisbury more time to make a decision on the project.

No give

“The Beach Road project is in the 2017 TIP funding year, and we’re running out of time to discuss it,” Mr. Currier said. “We need to make a decision very soon, hopefully by the end of this month, on which concept, if any, you want to advance if we’re going to meet the funding deadline.”

“Tonight I hear a whole new avenue of discussion that hasn’t come up before,” he added, “which is to not to have any bikes on Beach Road and get them on a backcountry path, no bike accommodation at all, and to convert it all to sidewalks, which was never in the proposal.”

“We’re hearing two very different sides here,” Mr. Diaz said in agreement. “We’re hearing that you want a road that’s safe, that has wider sidewalks, but that you don’t want to give up anything to do it. Something has to give here.”

Mr. Grande concluded the public discussion after about an hour and turned it back over to the selectmen.

“I think we need to come to some kind of consensus in the near future that we can make clear to the state what it is we want and what we don’t want,” Selectman Tristan Israel said. “I haven’t heard anybody supporting a mixed-use path. I would like to schedule a meeting with the business people, especially on the north side, and find out what they’re amenable to.”

Selectman Chairman Jon Snyder and Selectman Melinda Loberg agreed.

Sign stays

Fishermen are unhappy with the placement of a no wake sign at the end of Eastville jetty.
Fishermen are unhappy with the placement of a no wake sign at the end of Eastville jetty.

In other business, the selectmen took no action on Mr. Israel’s request to have a “no wake” sign on the tip of the Eastville jetty removed because it interferes with fishermen who like to stand on the tip and cast. Harbormaster Jay Wilbur installed the sign on the jetty. They also approved a licensing agreement with NSTAR for an LED streetlight program through Cape Light Compact.

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The All-Island School Committee kicked off a new school year with a two-hour meeting Tuesday night in the high school's library conference room.

The All-Island School Committee (AISC) voted Tuesday night to accept a letter of resignation from superintendent of schools James Weiss, effective June 30, 2015, and to set a plan in motion to hire his replacement. In addition to announcing his retirement plans last year, Mr. Weiss said he submitted his resignation letter now to allow the AISC ample time for the process.

The AISC on June 25 approved a bid of $11,500 from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to conduct a superintendent’s search, starting this fall. That included the cost of the search process and consulting services, expenses, and advertising.

MASC field director Jim Hardy, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, warned the committee that the pool of candidates would likely be small and require a salary increase for a new superintendent. Mr. Weiss currently earns $158,000.

His suggested timeline includes advertising the position beginning Oct. 15; conducting search-committee interviews of semifinalists in the first two weeks of December and finalists the first week in January; site visits with finalists the first two weeks in February; and the appointment of a new superintendent by the first week of March to allow the candidate time for contract negotiations and to give notice to his or her employer. The search will be open to candidates nationwide.

AISC chairman Susan Mercier said she and the other personnel subcommittee members met over the summer, and voted to recommend conducting an internal search for possible local candidates, while preparing for an external search at the same time.

After a lengthy discussion, the AISC voted eight to six in favor of conducting one search instead, which would be open to all candidates. The AISC also voted to create an 11-member search committee made up of representatives from the education community and other stakeholders in the Island community. Ms. Mercier said the personnel subcommittee would send letters out this week to solicit volunteers, with the hope of appointing the search committee by the AISC’s next meeting on Oct. 16.

In other business, the AISC voted to ratify a tentative three-year agreement approved by the secretaries’ unit of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional Teachers and Educators Association on Aug. 14. Under the new agreement, secretaries received a job title change to administrative support personnel. Salary increases are two percent retroactively effective July 1, 2013; two percent effective July 1, 2014; and three percent effective July 1, 2015. The agreement also creates a new year-round, full-time job category, and includes stipend increases for longevity, substitute calling, and sick leave buyback.

The AISC also voted to appoint Dr. Jeffrey Zack, head of emergency services at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, as the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools physician for the third year. He receives a stipend through the superintendent’s shared-services budget, to which all Island school districts contribute. He received $8,500 for FY14.

At Mr. Weiss’s recommendation, the AISC voted to approve a pool of money up to 2.5 percent of combined administrators’ and nonunion employees’ salaries for raises in FY16. He also gave an overview of issues he faces in his FY16 budget, including negotiated salary increases, special-education enrollment increases, and additional staffing needs, for which he suggested adding a facilities manager and food-services director.

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The Martha's Vineyard Regional HIgh School Committee met with central office and school administrators Monday night in the library conference room to kick off a new school year.

In a brisk one-hour meeting Monday night, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee launched into the new school year with the decision to assume ownership and management of the Up-Island Regional School District’s (UIRSD) school bus fleet.

Currently the regional high school owns and manages a fleet of buses, and also manages and pays all drivers, including the UIRSD’s, and transportation manager Jimmy Flynn through its budget. The Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs elementary school districts pay the high school a fee of $31,000 a year per bus to transport their students, which covers trips to and from school, on-Island field trips and activities, and a portion of maintenance. Tisbury, for example, has 181 runs twice a day in a school year, totaling approximately $62,000.

School committee member Robert Lionette of Chilmark explained that the UIRSD’s proposal to turn its buses over to the high school stemmed from discussions last year about liability concerns. Should students from Edgartown, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs be injured in an accident while riding on a UIRSD-owned bus on a field trip, for example, the UIRSD would be responsible for those costs — unlike the high school, which apportions insurance deductible costs among the towns. Special education transportation costs are included in the superintendent’s shared services budget.

Under the proposal accepted by the high school committee, the UIRSD’s six buses, valued at approximately $120,000, will be folded into the high school’s 20-bus fleet, and the UIRSD will pay a per run fee as do the down-Island elementary school districts.

Although the change shifts $120,000 in bus transportation expenses from the UIRSD to the high school, superintendent of schools James Weiss said the new arrangement is a plus for both.

“It’s a win for the up-Island school district, because they get out of the liability and bus business, and it’s a win for you because you have control of the system and everybody will pay, based on a fair, per-run fee,” he told the school committee members.

In other business, the school committee approved the first reading of a new Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools policy on employees’ background checks. Once adopted, MVPS will obtain federal and state background check information through both Statewide Applicant Fingerprint Identification Services and Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI). Mr. Weiss said fingerprinting would be required only for volunteers that have direct and unsupervised contact with children, for example, a chaperone on an overnight trip. The cost for fingerprinting is $55 for professional educators and $35 for volunteers, and is available at the superintendent’s office by an employee paid by MVPS and the state’s contractor.

The school committee meeting was a first for new staff members that included principal Gil Traverso, School Resource Officer Sgt. Michael Marchand, and special education director Nancy Dugan, as well as for former teacher Elliott Bennett in her new role as assistant principal.

In his first report to the committee, Mr. Traverso said the high school staff pulled off a successful opening day like a “well-oiled machine.” He also praised guidance director Mike McCarthy and his department for doing an excellent job with students’ schedules, and assistant principal Andrew Berry for his part in making freshmen orientation “the best I’ve seen in all my years in education.”

The committee’s budget subcommittee set dates for Fiscal Year 2016 budget meetings: Oct. 6, 6 pm; Oct. 15, 8:30 am; Nov. 3, 6 pm; and Nov. 19, 8:30 am. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 pm on November 24, with certification by the school committee on December 1.