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The Martha's Vineyard Times

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To the Editor:

The Oak Bluffs Citizens’ Beach Steering Committee was formed this year to address the problems of our beaches, some of which were highlighted in a Letter to the Editor last week by Barbara Peckham (Sept. 10, “Shameful beaches decried”).

Oak Bluffs is fortunate to have beautiful beaches for our residents and for the visitors, many of whom come here primarily for the beaches. The beaches are an important human resource as well as a necessary economic resource for Oak Bluffs, as evidenced by the recent Oak Bluffs business district survey.

The Conservation Commission, which is charged by law with protecting water resources, has exercised sole jurisdiction over the beaches, and has been acting unilaterally; we believe that the Parks Commission should be advocating for the human and socioeconomic values of the beaches.

Last winter, material that was dredged from under the new bridge to Vineyard Haven was placed on Town Beach (AKA Pay Beach and the Inkwell). The quality of that material was disgusting: It packed as hard as pavement; it was almost black, and had a foul smell; it contained foreign objects (rusted metal and welding rods); and it had small quantities of toxic chemicals. It had no business being placed on a family beach.

Following a display of public outrage, the board of selectmen decided that the dredged material would be removed from the beach, and the Highway Department removed most of it. The remainder should be removed.

The main goals of the Citizens’ Beach Committee are that: No dredge material should be placed on the beaches if it is of poorer quality than what is already there; lesser material, such as that which will come from dredging under the little bridge at the beginning of State Beach, can be used if it is cleaned of rocks by a Barber Surf Rake, a piece of equipment which is used by all beach communities on Cape Cod to keep their beaches nice; dredge material from a harbor may not be used on the beaches; plans for replenishing beaches         should be publicized in advance so that there is ample time for public input; access to the beaches should be improved, and include handicap access and designated handicap parking. (There are many people with a variety of disabilities who are currently unable to use the beaches.) Bathroom facilities should be available somewhere near the beach; signage with beach rules should be posted at each point of access.

It is time for Oak Bluffs to value and enhance its beaches, which make our town special, through actions more than words. The Citizens’ Beach Committee welcomes input from everyone who cares about our beaches.

Brian Hughes, Renee Nolan, Lisa Rohn, Jacqueline Hunt, Muriel O’Rourke, Richard Seelig, Caroline Hunter, Barbara Peckham

Oak Bluffs Citizens’ Beach Steering Committee

Tisbury is about to embark on an ambitious project to imagine what it might look like in the future and how it might get there. Over the next two weeks, town planners will hold three community workshops where, according to organizers, “participants will discover values upon which to base a vision plan and guide future actions.”

It is an important and worthwhile effort that deserves broad support from town residents, property owners, and business leaders. How to achieve that level of involvement and extend the conversation beyond the usual participants in municipal affairs is one of the biggest challenges organizers face.

Vineyarders have a debilitating habit of not paying much attention to design projects until they are under construction or complete. Let’s call it the pergola syndrome, in memory of the Greek columns and pergola that in 2000 graced the entrance to the new Tisbury Library and were then quickly removed following a storm of protest that the design was not “unobtrusive and quiet.”

A flyer distributed to Tisbury residents in this week’s issue of The Times explains, “The town will face a number of important issues in the coming years. A Vision Plan created with broad community participation will establish a framework to guide town decisions and enable us to take advantage of future development and funding opportunities.”

By the standards of most seaside vacation destinations, Vineyard Haven, the year-round gateway to Martha’s Vineyard, presents a dour picture to visitors arriving by the Steamship Authority. The number of commercial properties poised for development presents one of the town’s biggest challenges and opportunities.

The Stop & Shop property, which comprises three buildings, two parcels on either side of Five Corners and the Boch property, offers a unique and rare canvas. The challenge for town leaders will be how to forge cooperative development partnerships with property owners that provide benefits for all participants.

Those who are willing to invest in the community deserve a fair process and some expectation of a timely decision — one way or the other. Unfortunately, even 20-20 vision planning is no cure for town boards that turn municipal process into a form of bureaucratic purgatory.

This week, Janet Hefler reports on 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. It took Mr. Dunn four months to obtain a special permit so he could close the deal. The issue was a lovely screened porch and additional seats that did not suddenly appear. They have been there for more than five years. Any adverse effect ought to be well-known by now.

We can certainly expect that the Kenworths will bring the same level of excellence to Tisbury that they have brought to State Road, and before that to the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs.

Also this week, we report that the Island Housing Trust project to create six apartments on the site of a decrepit house at 6 Water Street is mired in the zoning board of appeals, which is concerned that the inhabitants  might not be able to live without cars, or parking, and would suffer from pollution and roadway vibration, being so close to Five Corners.

Presumably, a tenant would be thrilled to have an affordable roof over his or her head, ride the bus or walk to work, and generally be happy to live like millions of others do, in apartments on Main Streets in small towns and cities across America.

This project has undergone thorough review. Any holdups tied to whimsical concerns by ZBA members only threaten state and federal funding timelines.

A public health achievement

Tonight, pressed by one of its members, the Oak Bluffs board of health will revisit the issue of fluoridation of its municipal water supply. The town has been adding fluoride since April 1991, with no documented ill effects to its residents.

As with most town boards, the board of health is made up of citizens who contribute their time. There is no requirement that any of its members have some expertise in public health, only the expectation that they will do their best to become informed and use their good judgement to render decisions in the best interests of the community.

Experts in the field of public health, Island dentists, and state and federal public health agencies endorse fluoridation as a means to reduce tooth decay, particularly in young children.

In comments to reporter Barry Stringfellow, Dr. Garrett Orazem, a well-respected dentist who has practiced on the Island for 33 years, said he has seen the benefits of fluoridation. A board decision to discontinue fluoride, he said, would be “a huge mistake.”

Dr. Orazem feels so strongly about the issue that he has been encouraging patients and other dentists to attend the Thursday-night meeting that begins at 7 pm in the Oak Bluffs library meeting room.

This is not about cost. Oak Bluffs spends about $15,000 per year to add fluoride to town water. Compared to the cost of one visit to the dentist, that represents a bargain for taxpayers, who have likely benefited from fluoridation whether or not they had the discipline to brush and floss after every meal.

This is an issue that needs to be rooted in good science and sound public health policy. The board members will not have to search to find the information they need to make an informed decision.

“For 65 years, community water fluoridation has been a safe and healthy way to effectively prevent tooth decay,” according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One benefit of community water fluoridation, the CDC said, is that a person’s income level or ability to receive routine dental care are not barriers to receiving its health benefits.

The CDC has recognized water fluoridation “as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

After careful thought and consideration, the Oak Bluffs board of health ought to reach the same conclusion

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Sharks pitcher Nick Fuller, in the 2014 Futures Collegiate Baseball League championship series.

The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks made an off-season management change on Friday, hiring Marymount University head coach Frank Leoni to lead the Sharks for the 2015 season. Mr. Leoni will replace John Toffee, who led the local team to a second consecutive appearance in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) championship series in 2014. The team lost the three-game series to the Worcester Bravehearts in Mr. Toffee’s first and only year as coach.

Frank Leoni, the new MV Sharks head coach.
Frank Leoni, the new MV Sharks head coach.

“I am extremely excited and honored to be the next head coach,” Mr. Leoni said, according to a press release issued by the team Sept. 19. “The FCBL continues to build its reputation as one of the finest summer collegiate baseball leagues. College coaches want to send their players to play in a great league, but they also want them to have an overall positive summer experience. I can’t think of a better place than Martha’s Vineyard to accomplish both.”

Mr. Leoni is no stranger to the region. He attended the University of Rhode Island, and coached at his alma mater from 1992 to 2005.

“We are thrilled to bring Frank back to his New England roots,” said Scott Lively, a member of the team’s board of directors. “He has a proven record over more than two decades as a college coach, and we are confident he will help the Sharks improve as a team both on and off the field.”

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The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission is responsible for the care and custody of the airport.

The Dukes County Commission met Wednesday and voted to expand the size of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission from seven to nine members. The commissioners then  immediately appointed two new members, both frequent critics of airport management.

By a ballot vote, the commissioners appointed Myron Garfinkle of West Tisbury, a former businessman and a local representative for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and Robert Rosenbaum, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, former businessman and pilot.

The county commissioners, who have been embroiled in a battle with their appointed airport commission, said the move was warranted because a large number of qualified candidates had expressed interest in filling the seat left vacant by the recent departure of Peter Bettencourt.

“I had a tough choice between three candidates for one slot,” chairman Leonard Jason, Jr., of Chilmark said. “If we can get good candidates on there sooner rather than later, it’s a benefit to the entire community.”

“I think an injection of new people with fresh ideas, for me that’s important,” said commissioner Tristan Israel of Tisbury. “It seems to be within our rights as an appointing authority.”

Former airport commissioner and county commissioner John Alley of West Tisbury was the only dissenting vote. Mr. Alley questioned whether the expansion would violate grant assurances, documents signed by the commissioners in exchange for state and federal funding that prohibit the county commissioners from interfering with airport operations or diminishing the authority of the airport commission.

County manager Martina Thornton cited two other publicly owned airports governed by similar grant assurances, which recently expanded airport commissions. She said she consulted with the authorities at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division, and was assured that the expansion did not violate the grant assurances.

The county commission and the airport commission have been embroiled in controversy for much of 2014. The two sides recently went to court over control of the county-owned Martha’s Vineyard Airport and its operations.

On August 7, Dukes County Superior Court Associate Justice Richard J. Chin handed the airport commission a significant victory in its legal battle.In an 11-page decision, Judge Chin ruled in favor of the airport commission on every point in its request for a preliminary injunction against the County Commission, county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders, and county manager Martina Thornton. That lawsuit is still pending.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the airport commission is Friday, Sept. 26.

The Tisbury zoning board of appeals met Tuesday. Board members from left: Neal Stiller, Michael Ciancio, Sue Fairbanks, chairman Jeff Kristal, administrative assistant Laura Barbera, attorney Ilana Quirk of Kopelman and Paige, and Island Housing Trust executive director Philippe Jordi.

The Island Housing Trust’s (IHT) proposed Water Street affordable-rental apartment building has stalled at the Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA). Having opened the public hearing process on August 14 and closed it on Sept. 11, on Tuesday the ZBA voted to reopen it again and make a decision on Oct. 17.

Philippe Jordi, IHT executive director, said the delay for a project that has undergone thorough review is exasperating. “I just found it very frustrating and discouraging, frankly,” Mr. Jordi told The Times in a phone conversation yesterday. “All the support that we’ve received from town funding to town board support, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s unanimous approval, is now being stalled. We’re over a few months now into this, and I have no idea how much longer we’re going to have to go before ultimately getting the approval we need.”

The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with a six bedroom affordable apartment building.
The IHT plans to replace this dilapidated house with six affordable apartments in one building.

IHT proposes to build a two story, 3,600-sq.-ft. building on the site of an uninhabitable house at 6 Water Street in Vineyard Haven. There will be six 600-sq.-ft. apartments, three ground-floor units and three on the second floor, each with one bedroom and one bathroom. Since the building is located close to Vineyard Transit Authority service and the Steamship Authority, there would be no onsite parking, other than a spot for deliveries, pickups, and drop-offs.

On Tuesday, ZBA chairman Jeff Kristal led a discussion of possible conditions the board might impose on the project. In the course of a 45-minute discussion, the board raised issues about parking, the number of apartment units, the sidewalk in front of the property, and the impact of vibrations from truck traffic on Water Street on the building.

Sue Fairbanks said she thought six parking spaces should be provided onsite and dismissed the notion that tenants could park offsite at the Park and Ride lot, saying they would likely park illegally at the Post Office lot. She suggested the ZBA ask IHT to change the building design and put parking underneath.

Tony Holand raised concerns about the building’s height. Neal Stiller said he thought the building would dwarf others in the neighborhood. The ZBA said it would consider a request to IHT to reduce the apartments from six to four.

The board agreed on four parking spaces, to allow room for people to use barbeque grills on the grounds. Discussing vibrations from truck traffic on Water Street, board members said they were unsure what IHT could do about it, but decided to require that something be done to reduce its impact.

“This is not an adversarial relationship here,” Mr. Kristal said in making a motion to reopen the hearing. “I think we all agree we want something at this site; we just need to get to what we’re all comfortable with.”

“I can appreciate some of the concerns, but I feel like we’ve addressed them,” Mr. Jordi told The Times. “And to expect to have the same type of bucolic, suburban amenities in a downtown setting, such as a place for my barbeque, or parking next to my house, I think it’s unrealistic.”

Mr. Jordi said IHT has already lost an opportunity to apply to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that IHT plans to build a two-and-a-half story building. According to Mr. Jordi, working with the Tisbury building inspector, IHT modified the plans and widened the building by two feet and reduced the height to a two story building.

 

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The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) voted 10-3 on Sept. 18 to approve an expansion proposed by the Alliance Community 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 daycare center on the bottom floor in 2008.

Last year the church requested a modification to that plan, which the MVC denied in December based largely on concerns about the impact the expansion would have on the residential neighborhood on Ryan’s Way. Church representatives submitted a new DRI application with a reduction in the addition’s square footage and roof height in April this year.

Plans call for a 3,920-sq.-ft. addition and a 22-foot-high gable roof. The first floor would house the church sanctuary, and the second floor an apartment for a caretaker and family. The site plan was also changed, so that the building and parking are set further back from Ryan’s Way.

The MVC approved the DRI with many conditions offered by the church, including no outside amplification of music, composting toilets, and limits on hours of activities and service days and times.

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The Living Local Harvest Festival will be at the Ag Hall on Oct. 4.

Martha’s Vineyard’s very own celebration of the fall bounty, the Living Local Harvest Festival, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 am to 10 pm at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury. The annual event will include activities, workshops, and music all day long, including an open stage. Local eats will be provided throughout the day by 7A, Chef Deon’s Kitchen, Chilmark Coffee, Chilmark Baker, Loco Taco, Morning Glory Farm, the Beach Plum Restaurant, and the Kitchen Porch. The community supper, hosted by Living Local and Scottish Bakehouse that evening, will feature Island-raised pork, local farm veggies, ancient grains, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverages, with contributions by Anson Mills, Beetlebung Farm, Morning Glory Farm, North Tabor Farm, Scottish Bakehouse, the Good Farm, Thimble Farm, and Whippoorwill Farm. Local beer will be available for purchase from Offshore Ale Co. Live music will resume at 5 pm with Dana Edelman and Charlie Giordano, and contradance with the Flying Elbows.

On Friday, Oct. 3, the Living Local Harvest Festival will present a screening of the documentary “Open Sesame” at 7:30 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven. The event is free, and a community discussion will follow.

Admission to Saturday’s festival from 10 am to 3 pm, and the evening music from 5 pm to 10 pm, is free. A $5 parking fee benefits the M.V. Public Charter School’s Local Meat project. Admission to the community supper from 5 pm to 7 pm is $15 per person.

For more information and a full schedule, visit livinglocalmv.org or find them on Facebook.

Tim-Fullin.jpgTimothy Joseph “Timmy” Fullin of Edgartown died Sept. 20, 2014, at his home following a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 65.

Tim was born May 13, 1949, in Oak Bluffs to the late Remo L. and Alice E. Fullin of Vineyard Haven. Tim graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1968. He served in the U.S. Army from April 21, 1969, to Jan. 21, 1971, in Vietnam.

Tim was in the heating business his whole life. For a time he worked for his uncle, Augustus B. Campos, who owned ABC Oil Co., which Tim eventually bought and ran. He then started Fullin Heating with his son Keith, along with help from his son T.R.

Tim was an avid golfer, spending many afternoons at his beloved Mink Meadows, where he owned the 1996 and 1998 club championships. He enjoyed darts, fishing, and spending time with friends at the P.A. Club. He was also a life member of the VFW.

Tim is survived by his wife of 40 years, Linda Fullin; his daughter Veronica; his son T.R.; his son Keith and Keith’s wife Whitney; and six grandchildren, Devin, Eva, Colby, Emery, Bo, and Camden, whom he loved dearly. He is further survived by three brothers, Philip and wife Carol, Remo and wife Patricia, and Nicky and wife Jackie, along with many nieces and nephews.

Tim loved to tell jokes and make people laugh. His quick-witted teasing meant he cared about you. His spirit will live forever in the hearts of those who knew him.

A graveside service will be held Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, at 11 am at the New Westside Cemetery in Edgartown. Following the burial, please join his family and friends in celebrating his life at a potluck gathering at the P.A. Club in Oak Bluffs.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 (donors@stjude.org) or the Holy Ghost Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2203, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.  Arrangements are under the care and guidance of Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. To share memories or express condolences online, please visit ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.

Joseph Palermo of Edgartown died on Sept. 17 at age 93.

Joseph was born in Montreal in 1921 and moved with his family to New York City in 1923. He became a naturalized citizen when he enlisted in the U.S. armed forces in 1941. He spent four years as a tank commander in the Pacific Theater, and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart.

He worked as a butcher after the war, and then owned and operated a motel and restaurants in and around St. Augustine, Fla., before moving to Martha’s Vineyard in 2009.

Joseph’s passion in later life was painting in watercolors. He painted countless houses and lighthouses, and took a special interest in depicting the play of light and shadow on buildings.

Joseph is survived by his son Gregory Palermo of Edgartown, grandchildren Jenna Brown of Stroudsburg, Penn., and Joseph Palermo of Fort Wayne, Ind., and great-grandchild Joseph Palermo, also of Fort Wayne. He was predeceased by his wife Frances and sons Peter and Paul.

A lunch to honor Joseph’s memory will be held at the Edgartown Council on Aging, The Anchors in Edgartown on Friday, Oct. 24 at 12 noon. Please call 508-627-4368 to confirm attendance.