Authors Posts by Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler


The former Secretary of State and rumored presidential candidate attracted a large crowd to a book signing event Wednesday at Bunch of Grapes.

Hillary Clinton high-fives a fan during her book signing at Bunch of Grapes bookstore. — Photo by Michael Cummo

It was rainy and grey outside, but the mood was bright inside the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven Wednesday where Hillary Clinton fans were positively beaming. Ms. Clinton was in town to sign copies of her new book, “Hard Choices.”

The line to get a book signed at Bunch of Grapes snaked around the bookstore and down past the Vineyard Haven police station.
The line to get a book signed at Bunch of Grapes snaked around the bookstore and down past the Vineyard Haven police station.

“We love you,” “Please run, we need you,” “I’m such a fan of yours,” and variations of the same were heard again and again from people who had waited in line, some for four hours, to purchase a book and spend precious seconds with the former first lady and rumored presidential candidate.

Ms. Clinton’s appearance on the Island stole some of the media attention from her former boss, President Obama, who was staying dry in his Chilmark vacation home. About 30 members of the press attended the event. The Obamas, Ms. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were scheduled to attend a birthday party for Ann Jordan, wife of Washington insider Vernon Jordan, Wednesday night.

The line for books snaked from the front of the bookstore, down the alley next to the Capawock Theatre, past the Tisbury Police Department, and down Union Street.

First in line was Louis Ricciardelli of Wayland. His daughter Paula Sumberg of Maryland helped her dad navigate the bookstore’s crowded aisles in his wheelchair. Ms. Sumberg said her dad, a lifelong Republican, is a big admirer of Ms. Clinton and really wanted to meet her. They had waited in line since noon.

Hillary Clinton's most recent book, Hard Choices, on display at Bunch of Grapes.
Hillary Clinton’s most recent book, Hard Choices, on display at Bunch of Grapes.

“My dad told Hillary that if she runs for President, it will be the first time he ever votes for a Democrat,” Ms. Sumberg said, which her dad confirmed with a grin.

Dressed in a shell pink lace jacket with an ivory shell underneath, Ms. Clinton smiled engagingly and looked into each person’s eyes while she made brief small talk with them.

Dana Jacobs of Vineyard Haven said she had arranged to take the day off from her job weeks ago for the signing. A sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in political communications, Ms. Jacobs said her admiration for Ms. Clinton grew after she read her previous book, “The Secretary.”

“She was so personable,” Ms. Jacobs said. “I’ve read that about her, that she is really lovely in person, and that’s exactly how she was.”

The ticket price for the event was the cost of one book, with pre-orders suggested, and a limit of two signed books per customer. A limited number of tickets were available on Wednesday, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was all smiles Wednesday.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was all smiles Wednesday.

Luckily for Lily Richards, a high school senior who lives in Greenfield, there were still a few tickets left on Tuesday, when she just happened to find out about Ms. Clinton’s book signing while looking something up about her online. Ms. Richards is a big fan. She not only wrote her AP European history class term paper about Ms. Clinton, but she also presented it to the class as if she were Ms. Clinton — and was the country’s 45th president.

Ms. Richards alerted her mother, Kate Strum-Richards, who made a quick trip with her to the Vineyard Wednesday morning, just for the signing. While on the ferry, they shared Lily’s story with Cynthia Woolbright of Webster, N.Y. She wasted no time at the book signing telling Ms. Clinton about Lily’s paper.

“I’d love to see it,” Ms. Clinton told Lily, and gave Lily her card. Lily’s smile said it all.

The Oak Bluffs selectmen's annual summer informational meeting held in the Oak Bluffs Library conference room attracted a full house Tuesday night. — Photo by Janet Hefler

Oak Bluffs selectmen hosted their annual meeting for seasonal home and property owners Tuesday night. The almost three-hour event attracted a standing-room only crowd in the Oak Bluffs library meeting room where seasonal taxpayers aired their concerns and complaints.

Parking changes at Niantic Park, beach conditions, and a proposed oyster farm off Eastville Beach were the hot-button topics, underscored by expressions of frustration over a lack of communication with town officials.

On the topic of beaches, Suesan Stovall called attention to the town’s much-maligned efforts to replenish sand at Inkwell Beach and Pay Beach with dredge spoils from the Lagoon Pond channel, and the condition of town beaches in general. Although the material was expected to bleach out by summer, by spring it was still dark and clay-like, prompting protests from some Oak Bluffs residents. The highway department began removing the spoils in May.

Ms. Stovall said she visited Inkwell Beach on Monday and it was still black and dirty, and was like asphalt. “It’s disgraceful that our beach looks like this and hurts my feet when I walk on it,” she said.

Richard Seelig, who owns a house near the beach, told the selectmen a group of people concerned about the issue have formed the Oak Bluffs Citizens Beach Committee and would like to act as an advisory body to the selectmen. We appreciate the highway’s department’s efforts to remove the material in May,” he added. “We hope if by next spring the sea hasn’t taken away the rest of it, we can somehow find a way to do that.”

Selectman chairman Greg Coogan suggested that the committee get on the selectmen’s agenda for a future meeting to discuss their ideas.

We’re happy to have a committee formed; it’s helpful to us,” park commissioner Amy Billings said.

Several residents who live near Niantic Park said they were not aware that the selectmen were close to approving a final design for renovating the ark. Most of their concerns focused on parking.

The proposed renovation will include new basketball courts, new playground equipment, new fencing and lighting, additional sidewalks and parking, and new public bathrooms that will accommodate families with children and the disabled.

Evan Martinson raised questions about the plan to remove some spaces by the basketball court that is used by the senior center and return those to grass, and to creating a row of paved diagonal parking across Niantic Avenue, as well as eliminating on-street parking. Tamar Kaissar said she and her husband, Tal, are concerned about children’s safety if traffic flow is changed on Wamsutta Avenue.

Our goal was to create as many spaces as we could, as safely as possible, to incorporate walkways, and to make it safe for the kids,” Ms. Billings said. She suggested that concerned residents attend the park commission’s public meeting on August 18.

Although the selectmen had planned to consider final approval for an aquaculture license for Dan and Greg Martino to farm oysters off Eastville Beach, Mr. Coogan said they took it off Tuesday night’s agenda, pending approval from the state’s Department of Marine Fisheries.

The selectmen gave their approval in March on the condition that the oyster cage buoys must not interfere with recreation. Several Eastville Beach residents attended that meeting to oppose the project, and about a dozen were at Tuesday night’s forum to do the same.

Siblings Amy, Jack, Pat, and Wendy Ludwig, who grew up in Pennsylvania and still enjoy their family’s home on Beach Road, were among them. Eastville is still the one beach we can access with boats and swimming — it would be a shame to have part of that use taken away,” Amy Ludwig said, adding that the farm would obstruct navigable water and present a safety issue for windsurfers and small boats.

Wendy Ludwig showed photographs of the area in question, with arrows indicating where the oyster farm would be. This may be best site Oak Bluffs has to offer for this type of venture, but that doesn’t make it a good choice,” Pat Ludwig said. “We’re prepared to fight it.”

The Ludwigs said they were not aware of the issue when it came up last winter and that they didn’t feel they were able to participate in the public discussion.

Several people complained about a lack of notification and communication with the town. The selectmen agreed it is an issue they will work to resolve, most likely by sending emails to home and property owners who sign up.

Earlier in the forum, before opening the floor to questions and comments from the audience, Mr. Coogan called on town administrator Robert Whritenour and several town department heads to talk about their work over the past year.

We’ve got a number of projects that we’re trying to draw the entire community into, not just the folks that are here in the winter, but also the folks that are here in the summer and spring and fall, and get your viewpoints on things,” said Mr. Whritenour, first up on the program.

One of the town’s major focuses has been improvements to finances since 2011, when Oak Bluffs had an “absolutely unacceptable” deficit of $435,533 in the general fund alone, Mr. Whritenour said.

You need to know that since that time, your town leaders have been working extremely hard to eliminate what we had in this town with structural deficits where we were spending more money than we were taking in; there’s just no other way to put it,” he said.

Although it sounds simple to fix, it was a complicated process, Mr. Whritenour added. What made the biggest impact was that the town developed a team approach to finances, involving the selectmen, finance committee, town administrator, town departments, and also the voters. Working with a plan over three years, we have turned that around to the point where last year, we had a $1.5 million general fund balance,” he said.

Mr. Whritenour said the town’s major priority now is trying to create long-term fiscal stability, which will help address some of the major challenges Oak Bluffs faces, including addressing coastal infrastructure projects, such as replenishing beach sand, replacing the North Bluff seawall, and repairing East Chop Bluff.

Mr. Whritenour encouraged everyone to take part in a survey about Oak Bluffs, available online at

Police chief Erik Blake, highway superintendent Richard Combra Jr., Oak Bluffs library director Sondra Murphy, shellfish constable Dave Grunden, and Oak Bluffs School assistant principal Carlin Hart also provided reports.

In other business, the selectmen held a hearing regarding a dog complaint against Karen Coffey and Daniel Koch for an incident on July 8 in which their two dogs attacked another dog, for the second time. The selectmen voted unanimously to approve Animal Control Officer Anthony Ben David’s recommendations to place a $200 bond on each dog, and require the owners to keep the dogs in a fenced pen at home, and on a leash no longer than three feet and muzzled when in public.

The selectmen also voted to approve a license for Lucy Abbot, who plans to open a used furniture business, Take a Seat, on Dukes County Avenue, and to reappoint Ms. Billings as the park commission’s representative on the town’s Community Preservation Committee.

The Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown, one of the many organizations serving Island kids. — Michelle Gross

Martha’s Vineyard is rich in charitable organizations, but the newest group to arrive on the scene does so with a new model and money in hand. MVYouth, a new philanthropic organization founded by 40 Vineyard families, has committed to spend $4 million over the next four years to support Island youth through expansion grants to local organizations and scholarships.

Unlike many Island nonprofit groups, MVYouth will not rely on fundraising efforts, in particular the ubiquitous annual summertime event. Each of the founding donors has pledged $25,000 annually to MVYouth, for a total of at least four years, which will be disbursed at $1,000,000 per year, according to a press release. In addition, MVYouth’s founders agreed to underwrite all of the administrative, overhead, and operating expenses separately.

MVYouth is the creation of Daniel Stanton and Jim Swartz, who now serve as its co-chairmen. Summer residents of Edgartown, the two friends share backgrounds in banking and finance, as well as long histories of supporting causes that help young people.

Dan Stanton.

Mr. Stanton is a retired partner from Goldman, Sachs & Company. He currently serves as the president of The Boathouse in Edgartown and on the board of the Vineyard Golf Club. Mr. Swartz is the founder of Accel Partners, a global venture capital firm, and Impact Partners, a financing and advisory firm advancing independent cinema. He has been a strong supporter of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard and served as co-chairman of its capital campaign.

“It was a big decision to make sure all of the donations would flow right through to the organization,” MVYouth executive directorLindsey Scott of Chilmark told The Times in a phone call Monday. “The 100 percent flow-through model is very important to what we are doing, and the willingness of the founders to take on any additional costs so the funds go directly to benefit the organization’s cause is very generous.”

MVYouth filed for 501c3 nonprofit status in June and expects confirmation soon, Ms. Scott said. The organization will manage two programs, expansion grants and scholarships. Expansion grants will support organizations that enrich the lives of young people from birth to 25 years old through quality programs and services, according to the press release.

Grants generally will not be awarded to maintain operating budgets, but rather to support capital investments and program expansions.

“MVYouth has been careful not to disrupt existing donor contributions that sustain the many Island nonprofits,” the press release explained. “Instead, MVYouth will add capital to organizations ready to take quantum leaps forward.”

MVYouth plans to award approximately 25 percent of its funds to scholarships, which will cover needed tuition expenses and fees for students who are unable to afford to attend their school of choice.

They saw a need

In separate telephone interviews with The Times this week, Mr. Swartz and Mr. Stanton described what inspired them to start MVYouth and their hopes for the organization’s future.

Jim Swartz
Jim Swartz

Mr. Swartz said he and Mr. Stanton came up with the idea for MVYouth after observing the difficulty many Island organizations have in mounting fundraising campaigns, particularly for new capital items.

“They do a great job getting funds for an annual operating budget and sustaining efforts, but when faced with the need to put on a new roof, for example, or to add or expand a program, it becomes a burden for them to hire a development person and raise the money,” he said.

Mr. Stanton said the more he started investigating the needs of Island youth, the more he discovered, including at-risk children, teens and young adults in need of early intervention programs, and college-bound students with financial needs.

“I’ve spent time personally with the superintendent of schools and folks at the high school, and while I don’t know everything about all of the issues, I think what we’re doing will brighten the future for some kids,” he said. “We can’t help them all, but we think we’re on the right path.

Mr. Swartz said the model for MVYouth, in which donations go directly to the cause and not to administrative costs, was inspired by the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City and the Tipping Point Community in San Francisco, where he lives part of the year.

“We watched what was working in other communities and felt it was a good time to try that here on the Vineyard,” Mr. Swartz said.

“We felt it was time to not just focus on one charity, but several ones with a common theme, to try to benefit kids,” Mr. Stanton said. “If this organization is sustainable, and if, let’s say over 20 years, MVYouth is able to give twenty to thirty million dollars to scholarships and organizations that benefit kids, I can’t see how growing up on this Island won’t get a little easier for many of them because of it.”

The flow-through model also dovetailed with the two men’s goal to attract new — and younger — donors.

“We thought there was a whole group of young people on the Island who weren’t really engaged yet with philanthropic efforts on the Island and want to be,” Mr. Swartz said. “From what we’ve observed, they would be happy to have an organization they think is well run and well managed to contribute to, particularly one that has no overhead and the funds flow through directly.”

“A number of people who haven’t been here that long, some of them are more recent seasonal residents, feel like they’re investing in the future of this Island,” Mr. Stanton said. “I encouraged them to look at it that way.”

Mr. Swartz said that he and Mr. Stanton set a goal to launch MVYouth’s fundraising efforts this summer, never expecting to meet their $4 million funding target so quickly.

“We started approaching people at the beginning of the summer, and we were astounded ourselves that we were able to raise as much money as we did,” he said.

“I think causes that are very focused on one group of beneficiaries, in this case, children on the Island, really resonate with a lot of people,” Mr. Stanton said.

“Basically in about seven to eight weeks, we went from zero to forty donors,” he added. “That was really as fast as we thought it would be possible to get that done.”

“A key difference for MVYouth is that we did not raise money through an event,” Ms. Scott said of the organization’s successful efforts. “There were one-on-one conversations with members of the board of trustees and prospective donors, and out of those conversations came all our founding donors.”

Mr. Swartz and Mr. Stanton both said they fully expect MVYouth to keep growing.

“We wanted to log in a base number of donors here so we could be confident we could tell people we’d distribute a certain amount of money each year, “ Mr. Swartz said. “And we hope over time we can raise some more money.”

“We like to think that in a couple of years from now, MVYouth will generate funds in the $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 one to one and a half million dollar range, and that other residents, whether full-time or seasonal, will participate,” Mr. Stanton said.

Low cost model

To keep administrative and overhead costs to a minimum, Ms. Scott, who was hired in March, is the only paid staff member.

“Outside of my salary there is very little in the way of operating costs,” she said. “There is no office and no phone line; basically everything is happening by computer through me, on a laptop.”

Ms. Scott lives in Chilmark with her husband, Josh, and two children. Trained in art history and art education, her previous work experience includes teaching art at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and creating an interactive film and theatrical film program for children and families for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.

MVYouth’s board of trustees includes Steve Barnes, Drew Conway, David Fialkow, Mimi Haas, and Ron Rappaport. A local advisory board, still in the process of formation, currently includes Mr. Rappaport as its chairman and members Meg Bodnar, Brock Callen, Beth Kramer, Brian Mackey, and Peg Regan.

“Every one of them was hand-picked, based on their experience, their exposure to different issues on the Island, and their personal histories,” Ms. Scott said. “We have a really great group, a nice dynamic among people who are thoughtful and generous. Everyone is really interested in seeing the community of youth organizations well funded.”

Since the majority of the founding donors are seasonal residents, Mr. Stanton said he is excited about having a local advisory group.

“It would be misguided for us to assume we’ve got an understanding of all of the intricacies of the issues that affect kids on this island,” he said. “We felt strongly we need a group of people who live here 12 months a year and have a history of working with kids.”

Application deadlines are November 15 for expansion grants and March 15, 2015, for scholarships. The advisory board will review the applications, conduct interviews for both programs, and make recommendations to the board of trustees. Grants and scholarships will be announced next spring.

For more information about program requirements, application details, and deadlines, go online to or email Ms. Scott at


The fundraiser benefited the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative, a program for local students.

The 2014 Walter Cronkite Award winners and group of Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Institute (MVLYI) delegates enjoyed a visit aboard The Gadget, the sailboat formerly owned by Walter Cronkite and named Wyntje. From left are award winner Sam Low, MVLYI delegate Charlotte McCarron, Bob Nixon, award winner Sylvia Earle, Stone Soup Institute executive director Marianne Larned, Shavanae Anderson, and MVYLI delegates Mary Ollen, Katherine Reid, and Ava Thors. Mr. Nixon and Ms. Anderson are past Cronkite Award winners. — Photo by Ashley Tilton Photograp

The Stone Soup Leadership Institute (SSLI) honored oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and Sam Low of Oak Bluffs, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, at the 5th Annual Walter Cronkite Awards Ceremony and reception Tuesday night. About 150 guests attended the $150 per ticket event in support of SSLI’s Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative (MVYLI), held on the grounds of Mr. Cronkite’s former home in Edgartown, now owned by Karen and David Brush.

Walter Cronkite IV presented the awards named for his grandfather to Ms. Earle and Mr. Low. The program also included guest speakers Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and moderator of the network’s television show “Face the Nation,” and Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

SSLI, a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 on Martha’s Vineyard, presents the Cronkite Awards to honor people who use the power of the media to create positive social change in the world, board president Marsha Reeves-Jews said in her opening remarks.

Mr. Cronkite, a long-time CBS anchorman, Vineyard sailor, and friend of many Islanders, served as SSLI’s honorary chairman for almost 10 years, before his death in 2009. Founder and executive director Marianne Larned told the audience that Mr. Cronkite became involved with the Institute after working on a television series based on her book, “Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Everyday Heroes.”

The first annual awards ceremony held in Mr. Cronkite’s name in 2010 honored his efforts to prepare youth for the future, as well as his life as a journalist.

In her remarks, Ms. Larned said the Institute created the Vineyard youth leadership project to train young people to become leaders in their lives, on the Island, and in the world. MVYLI supports and mentors local high school students who have decided to pursue higher education and helps prepare them for their future, both on and off the Island, through college prep and scholarships, job shadowing, and an annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development.

This year’s summit, held June 21–27 in West Chop, was dedicated to oceans, which inspired the selection of Ms. Earle and Mr. Low.

Award winners

A pioneering oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Ms. Earle formerly served as the chief scientist at NOAA. She has been a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence since 1998.

Ms. Earle reminded the students in the audience that more has been learned about the ocean since the middle of the 20th century than during all preceding history.

“At the same time, more has been lost, more changed,” Ms. Earle said. “And so, at this moment in time, you’re armed with the knowledge. If you didn’t know that the ocean had problems, we’d be in serious trouble. But you do know, and you do have the power. And it’s the power of what Walter Cronkite used so well to communicate to his fellow humans, the state of the world, the past, the present, and especially the future.”

Ms. Earle apologized for having to leave early to attend a showing at Menemsha Beach that evening of a film, “Mission Blue,” about her quest to protect the ocean through a global network of marine protected areas dubbed “hope spots.” Chilmark filmmaker Bob Nixon, the producer, said it would be available on NetFlix on August 15.

Mr. Low, an Oak Bluffs resident, was recognized for his accomplishments as a filmmaker and author. His award-winning film, “The Navigators – Pathfinders of the Pacific,” documented the Polynesians’ settlement of the Pacific.

Mr. Low recently wrote a book, “Hawaiki Rising – Hokule’a, Nainoa Thomson and the Hawaiian Renaissance,” that was published in conjunction with the departure of Hokule’a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian canoe, on a three-year voyage.

Mr. Low said Hawaiian culture was dying when the canoe was built in 1976.

“To be voyaging in the path that our ancestors took to discover one-third of the earth’s surface and settle it was an astonishing experience for anyone with Hawaiian blood, and it caused a revival of Hawaiian culture that I as an anthropologist have never seen anywhere before,” he said.

Following the award presentations, Mr. Schieffer shared a few of his memories of Walter Cronkite as a friend and mentor. “First and foremost he was a journalist, a newsman,” he said. “He loved reporting and loved talking to people. I never saw Walter be rude to a single person that came up to him.”

Mr. Callahan spoke briefly about the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which he said continues to emphasize Mr. Cronkite’s values of objectivity, accuracy, and fairness.

Youth leaders

The program also included remarks from two of this year’s MVYLI summit participants, Caley Bennett, 17, and Ava Thor, 15, both students at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

“Living on an island, we all mutually felt that we have a really good understanding of the ocean, and we see things a lot more clearly than people who might not live near an ocean,” Caley said. “Oceans are very important to our island economically, and even socially. A lot of people wouldn’t come to the Vineyard as tourists if we didn’t have such nice beaches.”

Ava reported on an ocean sustainability-in-action project that the youth delegates are planning in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s international coastal cleanup initiative on September 20.

“Towards the end of the summit we were brainstorming to come up with a project that would engage everybody in the community, the locals, the wash-ashores, the Island-borns, the tourists, everybody, so that we could make our cause their cause, so that we could have a mutual understanding of how important the oceans are,” she said.

The delegates came up with the idea to host a gathering with food and music on Island beaches, perhaps over a span of one to three days, to showcase three project themes: marine wildlife, beach cleanup, and lawn fertilizers that contribute to water pollution.

MVYLI delegates Mary Ollen and Charlotte McCarron, who graduated from MVRHS this year, and Isabella El-Deiry, a student at Howard University, spoke briefly about the program’s benefits and positive influence on their lives.

Mr. and Ms. Brush said that as the owners of Mr. Cronkite’s former home, they wanted to support and carry on his legacy on the Vineyard. After the awards ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and canapés on the spacious grounds at the back of their home, which slope gently down to Edgartown Harbor.

— Nathalie Woodruff

Two sailboats headed in opposite directions collided around 2:30 pm on Monday, about a half mile off East Chop. Although the smaller boat’s mast broke and it had to be towed, no one on either boat was injured, according to U.S. Coast Guard personnel and Tisbury assistant harbormaster James Pepper, who responded to a radio call for help.

“Apparently both boats were on a tack that their sails covered their view of the oncoming boat in the other direction,” Mr. Pepper said in a phone call with The Times Tuesday morning. “Neither looked under the sail in time to see the other boat, which happens sometimes.”

Mr. Pepper said Nancy Woitkowski of Falmouth was sailing alone in Cetus, her 32-foot sailboat, when the collision with Surf Bird, a 40-foot sailboat owned and operated by Richard Hall, occurred.

Mr. Hall, a resident of Oak Bluffs and Washington, D.C., had two passengers aboard. “We were sailing towards West Chop from East Chop, and I did not see any other boat,” Mr. Hall told The Times in a phone call Tuesday. “Everyone on our boat was okay. I talked to the other boat owner this morning, and apparently she is okay, too.”

Asked for more details about how the accident happened, Mr. Hall declined to discuss it further.

Mr. Pepper said the Tisbury Harbormaster’s office responded to the accident and assisted a tow boat from TowBoatUS, which had also notified the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

“We dispatched a Coast Guard small boat from Woods Hole to arrive on the scene, to make sure no assistance was needed by either vessel, and none was,” Chief Michael Caianiello of the USCG Woods Hole Command Center told The Times in a phone call Monday.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police and Sea Tow also responded, as did Diane Hartmann of West Tisbury, who was sailing in the vicinity of the accident. Nathalie Woodruff of Oak Bluffs and her brother, Ken Judson, who divides his time between Mexico and Southeast Asia, were out for an afternoon sail with Ms. Hartmann when the collision occurred.

“We got a call on Diane’s ship radio that there was a distress call from a person on one of those boats, that they’d just had a collision with another boat,” Ms. Woodruff told The Times. “They called ‘May Day, May Day,’ so Diane took down the sails and we motored over there. Apparently nobody was hurt, which was fortunate.”

Mr. Pepper said that Ms. Woitkoski, a nurse, had some cuts and scrapes, but had tended to them herself before anybody arrived. “She said she was fine, and stayed with her boat; she didn’t want to get off and go anywhere,” he said.

The sailboat was towed to Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, where its rig and sail were removed. Ms. Woitkoski took a ferry back to Woods Hole, Mr. Pepper said. Cetus is now moored in Vineyard Haven harbor.


The document identifies Island highway, bridge, and transit projects first in line for Federal and State funds.

The Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

Top priority projects named in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) unanimously approved on July 10 include the construction, now underway, of a new Lagoon Pond drawbridge; resurfacing of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road; improvements to Beach Road; and a focus on Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) services, equipment, and facilities.

“The TIP looks at funding we have available from Federal and state sources, sets priorities of what projects to do, and fills in transportation system gaps,” MVC staff transportation planner Priscilla Leclerc told the MVC commissioners in her presentation to the MVC.

The TIP identifies road, transit, and multimodal projects that are priorities within estimated available federal funding for Martha’s Vineyard for Federal fiscal years 2015-2018 (FFY15-FFY18), which run from October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2018.

According to the Martha’s Vineyard TIP, the total regional Federal funding targets for the two highway projects, with a state match included, are $492,158 in FFY15, and $541,128 in FFY16-18.

Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road

The cost of resurfacing 6.5 miles of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road is estimated at $1,033,286. The original plan was to resurface 6.5 miles, using an in-house MassDOT design. However, Ms. Leclerc said the project is still under discussion, and if other adjustments to the road are added, it may not be possible to resurface all 6.5 miles.

Although there is some wiggle-room in the TIP for making changes, Ms. Leclerc told the MVC that the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road project, slated for the first year of the TIP, would have to be ready to be advertised by Christmas or be replaced by another.

“If we don’t have a project to move forward, we lose the funding,” she explained.

“We are working to identify a couple of easier projects that could be substituted,” MVC executive director Mark London added. “We would have to do a modification in the fall.”

“If the scope of the project changes, the cost changes,” Ms. Leclerc said in a phone conversation with The Times Tuesday. “We will probably be holding a public meeting on that project in early fall. It ties into the scenic roads committee’s discussions about Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road since NSTAR’s larger utility poles went up.”

Beach Road

Improvements to Beach Road from the Winds Up watersports shop to Five Corners are scheduled for FFY16 and FFY17, at an estimated cost of $2,162,256. In addition to the Island’s target funds for those two years, which total $1,082,256, the project qualifies for an additional $1,080,000 from the state’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program funds because it will improve bicycle and pedestrian access.

Local town and Island officials are working with MassDOT on a plan to transform what is now a jumbled collection of sidewalks, shoulders, utility infrastructure, and a bike path that ends abruptly, into a smooth passageway for motorists, bicyclists, and walkers.

“The Beach Road project started as an idea to extend the shared use path [SUP] for bicyclists and pedestrians from where it ends now, to at least the corner of Tisbury Marketplace,” Ms. Leclerc told The Times. “When we met with representatives from MassDOT, they suggested bringing it right down to Five Corners because that section is in rough shape and should also be done.”

The project evolved to include other improvements based on public comment at a meeting in May, she said, and there will be another public meeting to discuss it in September.

At the Tisbury selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night, two MassDOT representatives and engineer John Diaz of Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., discussed three conceptual options for the road’s design and asked for comments from town officials, planning board members, MVC staff, and the public in attendance. MassDOT project manager Thomas Currier said another public information meeting will be held in early fall for further discussion and to seek the town’s preference on which option to advance to a 25 percent design submission.

VTA and Lagoon Pond drawbridge

Under TIP transit programming, planned expenditures for the VTA include funds for operations, bus or van purchases, rehab vans and buses, and equipment or facility rehab and renovations, estimated at $3.57 million for FFY15, $3.35 million for FFY16, $3 million for FFY17, and $2.4 million for FFY18.

In addition to being a TIP priority for Martha’s Vineyard, the Lagoon Pond drawbridge replacement is listed on the state’s bridge project list for the Federal Aid Bridge Program for the next three years, with funds coming from the National Highway Performance Program.

The cost of its multi-year construction, which is already underway, is estimated at $38,277,479 over the next three federal fiscal years. About $7 million in Federal and State bridge funds, over the Island’s target funds, will be spent in FFY15, $15.4 million in FFY16, and $1.6 million in FFY17.

The new bridge, estimated to cost $43.7 million, will be built adjacent to the existing temporary bridge, which will stay in use until the new bridge and approach roadways are realigned and able to accept traffic. Despite a construction slowdown earlier this year to protect the spawning and juvenile development of winter flounder and shellfish, the bridge’s construction is on schedule to be completed in July 2016.

The TIP also includes a list of regional priorities in need of funding on Martha’s Vineyard selected by the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC), a citizen advisory group that serves as a forum to discuss transportation issues and that advises the MVC.

“We don’t have the funding, but should there be a windfall somewhere or a benefactor that wants to donate, these are the projects we’d like done,” Ms. Leclerc told The Times.

The list includes new shared use paths on Beach Road from the drawbridge to Eastville Avenue, County Road to Sunset Lake, Sea View Avenue to Waban Park, and a down-Island/up-Island link from Tisbury to West Tisbury. A Tisbury connector road between State and Edgartown-Vineyard roads is also on the list, along with a park and ride lot in Oak Bluffs.

The TIP process

The MVC prepared the 103-page document in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and Martha’s Vineyard Regional Transit Authority (VTA).

The MVC serves as 1 of 13 regional planning agencies in Massachusetts, of which 10 are federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), the document’s introduction explains. Although Martha’s Vineyard does not meet the Federal criteria for an MPO, a minimum population of 50,000 residents in an urbanized area, Governor Deval Patrick designated the MVC as an MPO in the 1970’s. As such, the MVC receives funds from MassDOT for transportation planning on the Vineyard.

The Martha’s Vineyard MPO members include the MassDOT secretary, MassDOT Highway Division Administrator, MVC chairman, and VTA chairman, who serve as the decision-making body regarding the Island’s transportation planning goals, projects, priorities, and funding.

In keeping with federal transportation planning regulations, the MVC established a citizen advisory group, the Martha’s Vineyard Joint Transportation Committee (JTC), to serve as a forum to discuss transportation issues and to advise the decision-making body.

The JTC voting members include appointed representatives from the six Island towns and Dukes County. Non-voting members include representatives from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), MassDOT, the Steamship Authority, VTA and Martha’s Vineyard Airport, and the MVC staff.

TIP projects are proposed by the JTC members, who then evaluate them in terms of priority criteria, consider public input and available funds, and select the ones for inclusion in the TIP for the next four years.

After the Martha’s Vineyard TIP is approved, it is combined with the 12 other regional TIPs in Massachusetts into the State Transportation Improvement Program for Federal review. Once approved, projects under the first TIP year, 2015, may move forward on October 1, 2014.


The town has tough decisions to make about pedestrian and bicycle safety and access along the busy Beach Road thoroughfare.

Beach Road. — Photo by Michael Cummo

A team from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., joined the Tisbury selectmen at a meeting Tuesday night to provide an update on options for proposed improvements to Beach Road.

MassDOT plans to add sidewalks and bike lanes to a section of Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, from the Wind’s Up watersports shop to Five Corners.

The $1 million MassDOT road project is in a preliminary design phase. It is expected to receive federal funding in 2017.

John Diaz, director of traffic engineering at Greenman-Pedersen, an engineering and construction services firm, gave a presentation featuring illustrations of three conceptual plans with different options for sidewalks, bike lanes, and a shared use path (SUP). MassDOT project manager Thomas Currier and District 5 project development engineer Pamela Haznar provided additional details and answered questions. Planning Board members and Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) staff also attended.

Mr. Diaz said the project evolved from a pre-feasibility study done in May 2009 regarding the extension of Martha’s Vineyard’s network of SUPs. Last August MassDOT contracted GPI to design bike and pedestrian improvements along Beach Road. MassDOT held a pre-design public meeting at Tisbury town hall about the project on May 21.

Mr. Diaz said one of the project’s most critical areas is from where the SUP path ends near Wind’s Up to Saltwater Restaurant. The stretch is flanked by the Packer Company’s concrete retaining wall on one side, and the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard buildings on the other side, which makes especially challenging for fitting in sidewalks and bike lanes, he said.

Three concepts

With that in mind, concept one features a 5.5-foot wide sidewalk and 5-foot wide bike lane on both sides of the road from Wind’s Up to Five Corners, with two 11-foot vehicle travel lanes. Mr. Diaz said it would be the simplest of the three concepts to construct.

Concept two features a hybrid bike lane, with two-way bike traffic, and SUP on the eastbound side of the road, accessible by using a new crosswalk created by the Shell gas station. A two-foot grass strip would be added between the road and bike lane/SUP as a buffer. The westbound side of the road would have a sidewalk.

Concept three would extend the SUP from where it now ends near Wind’s Up, along the south side of Beach Road to Five Corners. Mr. Diaz said that design would require some takings, with a four- to six-foot impact on the eastbound side of the road.

Sam Dunn, an architect and builder who developed Tisbury Marketplace, also submitted an informal conceptual plan for the town’s consideration. During the discussion, he asked about the power lines along Beach Road and whether money that would be spent to move them could be put towards underground installation.

Ms. Haznar said that Transportation Improvement Program funds would pay for half the cost of moving the poles back for sidewalks and/or an SUP, and NSTAR would pay the other 50 percent. If Tisbury decides to put the utilities underground, the town’s ratepayers would have to pay the additional cost, she said.

MVC executive director Mark London suggested that town administrator Jay Grande and MassDOT representatives meet with NSTAR to figure out the costs. Mr. Diaz reminded everyone that even if the utilities are underground, there will still be street light poles along the road and in sidewalks.

Cyclist and business concerns

Chris Fried, who serves on the MVC’s bike-pedestrian planning advisory committee, expressed concerns about the safety of having children and inexperienced adults biking in a bike lane next to the traffic lane.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly an improvement, giving them a five-foot striped bike lane, instead of the narrow sandy strip they have now,” Mr. Diaz said.

His biggest concern, he added, is about the industrial section near the Packer Company and Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. A shared use path along that stretch could put employees at those businesses at risk for getting clipped by bicyclists, he pointed out, “The hard part for us is to come up with a design plan that’s going to work for everyone,” he added. “I think whatever we develop there will be an improvement over what’s already there.”

Vineyard Haven Marina general manager Liz Wild noted there are nine curb cuts on Beach Road from the Net Result seafood store to the vacant Boch property near Five Corners. Of those, seven are associated with traffic from very active businesses,

As a representative of two properties on Beach Road, Ms. Wild said, “We’re opposed to any taking of land, and would support a bike path that goes inland.We need sidewalks and crosswalks, and to put utility poles underground.”

Mr. Diaz said that he and the MassDOT reps would put together the comments they heard, get answers to questions that came up, and incorporate all of it into a discussion about the project’s pluses and minuses, as well as costs, at a public meeting tentatively planned for October. At that time, Mr. Currier said MassDOT will be asking the town which concept it prefers to advance as the 25 percent design submission.

Other business

In other business, the selectmen instructed Police Chief Dan Hanavan to discuss his reserve fund transfer request for $12,723 to cover a fiscal year 2014 budget shortfall with the Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom). Chief Hanavan said he had under-budgeted for gasoline expenses and additional equipment purchased. FinCom chairman Larry Gomez said the chief’s request would likely deplete the town’s reserve transfer funds for this fiscal year, and that any future requests would have to be saved until the end of the year.

“This is the first time since I’ve been on the FinCom, in 13 or 14 years, that we’ve run out of money,” he said.

At Tisbury Police Lieutenant Erik Meisner’s recommendation as the town’s emergency management director, the selectmen voted to approve Tisbury’s participation in a mutual aid agreement with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association and to appoint Robert Verdone as assistant emergency management director.

Also, the selectmen voted to appoint Martha Yukevich to the Housing Trust and Noreen Baker to the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council; to approve a participation agreement with Cape Light Compact for an LED streetlight program; to establish a joint Tisbury-Oak Bluffs Committee for Lagoon Pond watershed wastewater planning; and to allow the Planning Board to establish an advisory committee for its visioning process.

The selectmen’s next regular meeting is August 5. They will not meet again in August.

— Photo by Michael Cummo

The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank announced plans on Monday to open a new full-service branch office at 412 State Road in Tisbury on the site of a proposed grocery store in the heart of the roadway’s commercial district.

Cape Five purchased the 1.01 acre property from Vineyard Grocer and Tisbury Farm Market owner Elio Silva on July 25. The purchase price was $2.6 million, according to the Registry of Deeds.

Pending local and bank regulatory approvals, the Cape Cod Five plans to open a full-service banking center on the site by the summer of 2015, according to a press release emailed to The Times on Monday.

“The acquisition of this property underscores our commitment to Martha’s Vineyard,” Cape Cod Five president and CEO Dorothy Savarese said in prepared remarks. “It is in keeping with our core values to meet the needs of each community we serve across several dimensions, one of which is with a full-service banking center where appropriate. We are also active participants in the communities we serve and make a point of giving back to them.”

Cape Five has been operating out of a small office in Vineyard Haven. In another sign that the bank plans to seriously expand its footprint on the Island, Cape Five also announced on Monday that well known Island banker and community volunteer Richard Leonard, 54, would take the helm as regional president for Martha’s Vineyard.

In a follow-up phone conversation with The Times on Monday, Robert (Bert) Talerman, Cape Cod Five’s executive vice president in charge of lending, echoed Ms. Savarese’s enthusiasm.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to find this property and to be able to negotiate the purchase of it, and also to become a permanent member of the community on Martha’s Vineyard in a full-service capacity,” Mr. Talerman said.

He said that Cape Cod Five’s decision to acquire property on Martha’s Vineyard stemmed from a long history of serving customers on the Island. The bank currently operates a loan production office in Vineyard Haven.

“As a result of having that customer base and hearing good things from that customer base, obviously we’re very excited to be in a position to do more and serve customers through a local facility that will offer them the full range of banking services that we provide,” Mr. Talerman said.

At the same time that Cape Five widens its beachhead on the Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, headquartered in Edgartown, has established a presence on the Cape. In June, the bank opened a full-service branch office on Palmer Avenue in Falmouth, its second Falmouth location. A Woods Hole branch opened in 2009.

Why State Road?

Mr. Talerman said finding the right property was not easy.

“First of all, there are limited locations on Martha’s Vineyard where we could do what we’d like to do,” he said. “And we think it’s a terrific location, kind of in the middle of lots of other activities that people travel to.”

Mr. Talerman said the bank’s decisions on properties for its offices are based on due diligence and feedback received from trusted advisors and employees who are involved in the process, as well as customers.

“Based on the feedback we gathered, the indications are this is a nice location for us and the community, and that’s what it’s all about, to serve our customers and be an asset to the community, which is what we strive to do in all the communities we serve,” Mr. Talerman said.

The site was formerly occupied by a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and most recently, a home furnishings store in front and an art gallery in back.

“The other thing that really excited us is this is a previously developed property,” Mr. Talerman said. “So we’ll be renovating one of the existing structures on the property as opposed to starting fresh somewhere else.”

The renovations made by Cape Cod Five will be in keeping with its green energy principles, which emphasize recycling and energy efficiency, he added.

The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank is an independent, state-chartered savings bank with over $2.5 billion in assets, according to the press release.

Off the shelf

Mr. Silva signed an agreement to purchase the property in 2011 for $1.7 million contingent on approval by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) of his plans

to consolidate his two existing grocery stores, also on State Road, into a new 7,400-square-foot building with four one-bedroom apartments.

In April 2011, the MVC moved with uncharacteristic speed, and completed the public review of the proposal as a development of regional impact (DRI) in one week. That was followed by unanimous approval on May 5, 2011. Mr. Silva closed on the property on October 5, 2011.

In 2012, he returned to the MVC to request a modification to the DRI. His new proposal called for the demolition of both buildings on the site and to rebuild a new, larger, three-story, 11,120 square-foot grocery store complex to include a market, bakery, offices, and four apartments.

The commissioners agreed the modification was a significant enough change to require a new public hearing on February 7. The modified DRI was approved by the commission on March 8, with additional conditions.

In June 2012, Mr. Silva informed the MVC he planned to continue to run his businesses as they were, and to use the back building at 412 State Road as an art gallery. Although his approved DRI permit was good until 2018, Paul Foley, MVC DRI analyst and planner, said Mr. Silva did not move forward with any construction.

In January 2014, the State Road property came up in discussions during the MVC’s extended public hearing process for the Stop & Shop Company proposal to expand its Vineyard Haven store. Behind the scenes, Mr. Silva and his agent, Robert Sawyer of Tisbury, a real estate broker, promoted the idea that Stop & Shop executives should consider a property swap.

Stop & Shop representatives said emphatically that such a swap was not practical, or even an option. Despite those statements, commissioner Ned Orleans of Tisbury persisted in discussing an alternative and alluded to “another location out there,” without naming Mr. Silva’s property specifically.

The Cape Cod Five proposal, once finalized, will go to the MVC for review, since the property was previously approved for a different DRI. Bank representatives are tentatively scheduled to meet with the MVC land use planning committee next Monday night for a pre-DRI modification application review, according to Mr. Foley.

The property has drawn considerable regulatory scrutiny in the past. In addition to Mr. Silva’s proposal, in 2002, the MVC reviewed a proposal to build a gas station, but rejected it, citing concerns about increased traffic along State Road, reliance on the automobile in general, and the economic pressure a new station might place on up-Island Island gas retailers.

Mr. Silva did not respond to multiple phone messages left on his cell phone and at his two businesses.

Left over from a snowy winter, accumulations of sand on this Skiff Avenue bike path and other Tisbury roadways has been a hazard for bicyclists. — Photo by Janet Hefler

Although summer has melted memories of a long, snowy winter, the sand that kept Tisbury roads passable back then remains an unpleasant reminder, built up in stretches along the shoulders and in gutters on many town streets.

In years past, as an annual rite of spring, the Tisbury department of public works (DPW) rolled out its street sweeper to clean up winter debris. This year, new DPW director Glenn Mauk found himself stymied by a lack of equipment and money in the budget.

For more than a decade, the DPW relied on an old street sweeper that the department rebuilt around 2002. Although the DPW purchased another sweeper around 2006, the department continued to use its vintage sweeper for the bulk of the street-cleaning work because it did a better job picking up heavier debris, former DPW director Fred LaPiana previously told The Times.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mauk learned after he was hired on January 3 that the town no longer had a reliable heavy-duty street sweeper. He also found there was no money available in the DPW’s fiscal year 2014 budget, which was appropriated prior to his employment, to hire a private street sweeping contractor. Although voters at town meeting in April approved a DPW request for $180,000 to buy a new one, the funds were not available until the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

In the interim, Mr. Mauk was left to address the sand issue as best he could as summer ramped up and placed increased seasonal demands on his department’s manpower and equipment for landscaping, road repairs, and municipal trash pickup, to name just a few.

DPW personnel have been sweeping and shoveling sand by hand from portions of town streets. Mechanical help is on the way.

Tisbury selectmen last week voted to approve municipal finance director Tim McLean’s recommendation that the town do “internal borrowing” to allow Mr. Mauk to purchase a street sweeper and other equipment for the DPW, in advance of obtaining financing.

“If we have free cash or money in the town’s stabilization fund, the Department of Revenue lets us borrow the town’s own money until we can go out and get financing in August, in order to let Glenn get the equipment now,” Mr. McLean explained. “We’ll do internal borrowing for five weeks or so until the actual money comes in.”

Cyclists navigate sandy shoals

Tisbury’s street sweeper dilemma came to light in a recent email exchange with Danielle Zerbonne, a Times staff member who often rides her bike to work via Skiff Avenue.

“I’ve been waiting and wondering about when the streets of Vineyard Haven (Skiff Ave., for example) were going to be cleaned of their winter sand, but now it’s nearly the end of June,” Ms. Zerbonne said in an email to Mr. Mauk dated June 24.

“Skiff Ave. has been designated as a bike ‘lane’, yet shoulders of both sides of the road are very sandy on much of the street. It’s very hazardous for bikers as they try to avoid riding in the street with the cars.

“I know some streets were done, but I think Skiff remains pretty dangerous in that respect.”

Ms. Zerbonne said she was impressed that not only did Mr. Mauk reply to her email, but did so on the same day she sent it.

“The Tisbury Department of Public Works (DPW) owns a TYMCO Regenerative Air Street Sweeper that is not capable of removing sand from the town streets,” Mr. Mauk said in his email response. “In fact, I believe that it is fair to say that the town’s street sweeper is completely non-functional.”

Mr. Mauk also explained that the DPW had been shoveling sand by hand. “For instance, this was done along portions of the route used by Tisbury school children during their ‘March to the Sea,'” Mr. Mauk said, in reference to a Memorial Day commemorative parade on May 23. “However, given the limited manpower of the DPW, it would be impossible to hand sweep and shovel sand from all town streets.”

Mr. Mauk added, “The DPW’s plan is to obtain a new street sweeper as quickly as legally possible and to immediately commence sweeping every town street.”

A clean sweep

The approved capital expenditures article authorized the town to borrow $350,000 for the DPW to purchase, in addition to the sweeper, a four-wheel-drive pickup truck with snowplowing capability, landscape trailer, snow pusher attachment for a hydraulic loader, dumping stake body truck, and catch basin cleaning equipment.

According to a brochure, the Elgin Pelican sweeper previewed at town meeting has a unique single-engine three-wheel design, 360-degree visibility, and a 9,000-pound capacity hopper. The Elgin Sweeper Company also offers training on the sweeper’s proper use and maintenance throughout its lifetime.


Denied once, the church has returned to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission with a scaled-back plan.

An artist's rendering of the new church design. — Illustration courtesy of Cape Bu

Public testimony grew heated at a Martha’s Vineyard Commission public hearing on Thursday, July 10, to review the latest proposal by the Alliance Community Church, formerly known as Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida (Assembly of God), to expand its church. The MVC reviewed the project as a development of regional impact (DRI).

Church supporters were under the impression that the commission would make a decision that night. They became upset when hearing chairman Linda Sibley of West Tisbury said that the hearing would be continued to August 7, because of time constraints posed by another hearing that evening.

Edward Redd, a seasonal Oak Bluffs resident, said he had flown to Martha’s Vineyard from Atlanta that day to attend the hearing. “I don’t understand it — I’m upset there’s not going to be a vote tonight,” he said.

The Reverend Walter Thompson, also a seasonal Oak Bluffs resident, said he also had flown in especially for the hearing from New York, where he is the pastor of a church.

The size and use of the church, located in a residential Oak Bluffs neighborhood on Ryan’s Way off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, have been the subject of an ongoing debate between neighbors and church representatives ever since the MVC first approved plans for a 150-seat chapel on the second floor of the existing building and a 28-child day care center on the bottom floor.

The day care center has since moved, and building plans have been dormant. In December 2013, ending a review process that lasted almost one year, the MVC denied a church proposal to expand its building and church activities as a modification of its previously approved DRI.

The commission voted 4-3 against the proposal based largely on the impact an expansion would have on the residential neighborhood.

In April, church representatives submitted a new DRI application now under review. The revised plan includes a 3,920-square-foot addition, reduced from 4,500 square feet in the previous proposal, and a 22-foot high gable roof rather than a 24-foot high shed roof. The first floor would house the church sanctuary and the second floor an apartment for a caretaker and family.

The site plan has been changed so that the building and parking are set further back from Ryan’s Way. A proposed road that would have gone all the way around the building was removed. The new plans call for access to be off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and not from Ryan’s Way.

The church also submitted a six-page list with 51 offers as conditions for the DRI’s approval. Among them, church leaders said the building will be equipped with composting toilets, church services limited to three per week, no formal or informal activities will be held on the property before 7 am or after 9 pm, with no outdoor socializing allowed after 9 pm.

Church members had met in the basement of the existing building until the town of Oak Bluffs issued a cease and desist order. For the past few years, the church has been operating and holding services at the Federated Church in Edgartown.

What do you want

Attorney Rosemarie Haigazian accompanied Pastor Valci Carvalho and spoke on the church’s behalf. “We’ve done everything we can possibly think of to address the concerns that have been raised by the commission and have been raised by the neighbors and other town boards,” she said. “We’re doing the very best we can to show our good faith in our efforts. There have been some very difficult buffers put in front of us, and we have dealt with them.”

The church’s previously approved DRI stipulated that the sanctuary would operate on the church’s second floor, and that a community room would not be used for services. Ms. Haigazian said that since Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s daycare no longer operates in the building, and that a community room created on the first floor has been used temporarily as a gathering place, but not as a sanctuary. Commissioner Erik Hammarlund of West Tisbury questioned whether that made the church in non-compliance with the previously approved DRI.

Ms. Haigazian said the room is part of the already existing building, and that while some church services have taken place there, it hasn’t caused any problem. “There is a functional building which has been utilized, and has been approved to be utilized,” she added.

Finding no Oak Bluffs public officials or representatives from town boards that wanted to speak, hearing chairman Linda Sibley opened the hearing to public testimony. She said that she would end the session in 30 minutes and would continue it. There was some discussion among the MVC members about who would be present for the continued hearing in August.

Ms. Sibley then called for comments from anyone who might not be able to attend next month.

Mr. Redd said he had been coming to the MVC hearings on the church for a year, and would not be able to come back in August. He launched into an angry diatribe about the MVC process and what he characterized as mistreatment of the Brazilian community by the commission.

“They’re basically done everything you’ve asked them to do,” Mr. Redd said. “They’ve redesigned the building, they’re spending money they don’t have, and I want to know when it’s going to stop. What I see represented on this commission is not a commission of people that I have come to love on the Island.

“I don’t understand it. You would never put another church through this kind of nonsense. You’re talking about having a meeting on August 7 and you’re not going to have enough people, and your deadline is September?” he continued, his voice rising as he asked, “What do you want the church to do? What do you want them to do?”

Ending with the remark that he was upset there would be no vote that night, Mr. Redd left the building.

Lorinda Kasoff of Brooklyn, who owns a home in Oak Bluffs, said she doesn’t understand why the church needs to be so large. “I think the building is too large for the site, and it will overwhelm the neighborhood.”

Kris Chvatal, an abutter on Ryan’s Way with a longstanding history of opposition to the church’s expansion, questioned whether the square footage given for the addition was accurate.

Edgartown resident Courtney Brady said she lives across the street from the Federated Church and has attended some of the Alliance Community Church services there. “I have found them to be completely acceptable as far as noise and busyness, traffic, whatever problems,” she said. “I was happy to have them as neighbors.”

Reverend Thompson said members of the Alliance Community Church have not only been involved in the Island community, but have also traveled to New York to be part of his church community. “I want to encourage the commission to consider the wide arm that this church has been involved in, in meeting the needs of the community,” he said. “I’m here to support it.”

Ms. Sibley asked the commissioners to submit questions about the project in writing to her and continued the hearing to August 7.