Authors Posts by The Martha's Vineyard Times

The Martha's Vineyard Times

2953 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

To the Editor:

It’s clear from the recently published job description that the future leadership of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission is critical to the future of the Island.

The commissioners and their recruiting consultant, the Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston, have done an excellent job of describing the Island, the ideal candidate for a new executive, and the process for selection.

The MVC lists key critical issues for the new executive: transportation, water quality, affordable housing, coastal planning, economic development, historic preservation, and regulation of development.

However, what it does not do is include the critical issue of social planning. The MVC is not responding to the explosive changes in the social environment being caused by the exponential growth of the baby boomer population.

In 2010, one in six Islanders was 65 or older. By 2030 — less than 15 years from now — one in three Islanders will be 65 and older (Donahue Institute, UMass).

This growth puts pressure on absolutely every aspect of Island life, not only our transportation and housing, but all the services which support living on this Island, and the infrastructure which makes this Island such an attractive home.

The new MVC executive must be able to help the county, the towns, the business community, major stakeholders, and all community members understand, plan for, and develop new solutions to these challenges. He or she must be a leader, able to bring diverse groups, personalities, and generations together in a sustained and collegial way.

This process starts now. We urge the MVC to: include social planning as a priority in planning and financial resources in its 2016 budget; amend the job description to include planning for the social environment (as well as natural); and seek candidates with the experience and capacity to meet new challenges with openness and new ideas about how people of different generations can work together to improve Island life.

Patricia “Paddy” Moore

Co-Chairman

Healthy Aging Task Force

On Tuesday, the members of the Steamship Authority (SSA) met in Woods Hole for their monthly business meeting, and politely listened to the backers of an online petition who have called on the SSA to repeal or suspend rate hikes that went into effect on New Year’s Day. The members, on the recommendation of boatline management, took no action on the request.

The petitioners made the case that the cost of fuel was one of the factors in the SSA’s need to raise an additional $1.9 million in revenue in the new year to cover increased operating costs projected for 2015, which also included vessel maintenance, employee salaries, health care benefits, and pension benefits. The drop in fuel costs, they argued, undercut the need for rate hikes.

Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said that if the authority does end up with a larger surplus than anticipated next year, the extra money will automatically flow into the SSA’s special-purpose funds to be used to pay for the cost of its capital projects, which will help keep rates lower in the future. Big projects in the pipeline that need to be paid for include a $40 million boat and a $60 million reconstruction of the Woods Hole terminal.

Petition backers pointed to their success in gathering almost 3,000 signatures. It is an impressive number and indicative of the power of social media to rally people to a cause, but their success should come as no surprise. Who would not want to see SSA fares drop? Or for that matter, plane fares, cable bills, grocery prices, and the cost of an ice cream cone in the summer?

These petitioners are going after the wrong fix. It would be as if a heart surgeon asked a patient who gets no exercise and eats sausage morning, noon, and night to cut back on the doughnuts at breakfast — it is not a matter of if, but when and where the future clog will occur.

SSA fare hikes are part of a never-ending cycle with no end in sight. And there is nothing in the past history of the SSA to suggest that had this hike not gone into effect, there would not be one in the future.

What is the solution? One petition signer called on the SSA to give year-round Island residents a break at the expense of tourists and seasonal residents. These would be the same seasonal residents — let’s call them the Island’s golden geese — that support our schools, paid for our $50 million hospital built without one Island tax dollar, and who subsidize our discounted excursion fares to the tune of more than 60 percent of the allocated costs, according to an SSA analysis.

Another petitioner suggested limiting the number of vehicles, to slow the growth of Island traffic. Of course, that would mean fewer geese on the ferries and a bigger budget hole that could only be fixed with a rate hike.

An online petition may provide a barometer of sorts, but it provides no basis on which to run a boatline, or any business. That takes planning and careful analysis, not just of immediate circumstances but of future trends. The last serious planning effort was a short-lived exercise that began in January 2001, when then SSA general manager Armand Tiberio presented an 11-page outline titled “SSA Future Ferry Transportation Service Model, a framework for discussion,” to the members.

In Mr. Tiberio’s model, ferry operations to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket would have become part of a larger transportation network in which short-term Island visitors would be pressed to leave their cars on the mainland in favor of fast ferry transportation to the islands. Mr. Tiberio described the service model as an integrated approach that balanced concerns over growth and cars on both islands with a need for the SSA to address rising operating and maintenance costs, aging vessels, and a growing year-round population’s transportation needs. Sound familiar?

Mr. Tiberio’s proposals were designed to shift the transportation focus of the boatline from vehicles to passengers, to make wider use of barging of petroleum products, and to use off-Cape ports, in particular New Bedford, in the reorganized service plan.

Nantucket member Grace Grossman was unwilling to consider change, and skillfully generated vehement opposition to any model that included the port of New Bedford, in the process scuttling any significant discussion of that plan or any other. The political blowback was an irritated legislature’s decision to give New Bedford a seat on the SSA board. File that one under unintended consequences.

Mr. Lamson saw the scalding Mr. Tiberio took. A careful and considerate man, he is focused on running the boatline, not making waves. The only remnant of Mr. Tiberio’s plan is private seasonal New Bedford fast-ferry service: a stepchild if there ever was one, generally ignored by the SSA, not embraced as it should be as part of a wider model.

Instead of trying to claw back a few dollars, or shift costs, the petitioners, and Island officials, ought to be pressing the SSA to hire a competent consultant to take a serious look at its operating model, which now is based on big boats and fare hikes whenever it predicts a budget shortfall. It is time to look decades down the watery road.

Five Corners remains a clogged transportation artery. Is it possible to move the terminal up Beach Road? The Martha’s Vineyard Commission first raised that option, and ought to apply some of its transportation-planning horsepower to another look. The South Coast Rail project would extend service to New Bedford. How would that fit into a transportation model? What will be the cost of the next big boat, and what might be an alternative? It is time for the SSA to undertake a serious and far-reaching look at its service model and how to best accommodate growth, which all trends point to as unavoidable in the future.

In moments of lust and passion play

you strew your wild seeds into the dark open night.

They burst forth blindly, no eyes without sight,

and fused into life in their own secret way.

A Bastardly Burden, a submitting heart betrayed

as you made your cowardly flight,

no more to know the lonesome plight

of the Nestling Newness left to decay.

The beauty and pride of your creation,

marred in the ugly smear of neglect

greatly diminishes your manhood.

Through lack of love and preparation,

the price to pay, your self respect,

gone, denied by your own flesh and blood.

Maurice Young has been writing poetry since 1963, when a poem he wrote as a seventh grader, lamenting the death of President Kennedy, “Our Captain Is Gone,” won a prize and was published in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

To the Editor:

The Oak Bluffs School District pays “tuition” to the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School when a child from Oak Bluffs enrolls in the Charter School. The Oak Bluffs town administrator, Mr. Whritenour, is correct, but very misleading, in stating to The Times (Jan. 15, “Rising education costs bedevil Oak Bluffs budget”) that “the Charter School is also a drain on town finances, since Oak Bluffs has to pay 100 percent of the tuition for each student.” In the case of Oak Bluffs, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pays the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School $20,190 per child who resides in Oak Bluffs and attends the Charter School. The Charter School educates the child, so the funding follows the child.

What Mr. Whritenour should inform the taxpayers of Oak Bluffs is that there is another part of this tuition arrangement the towns and school districts have negotiated with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When a child chooses the option to attend the public charter school, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reimburses the Oak Bluffs School District for six years after the child leaves the district. The Oak Bluffs School District is reimbursed 100 percent the first year and 25 percent for the next five years. In essence, when a 5-year-old child from Oak Bluffs chooses to attend the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, the Oak Bluffs School District receives $20,190 the first year and $5,047 for the next five years. This is a total of $45,427 reimbursed to the Town of Oak Bluffs for not educating the child. Families from Oak Bluffs who have enrolled their children in the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School are Oak Bluffs taxpayers and should take offense at Mr. Whritenour’s position that “the Charter School is a drain on town finances.”

Charter schools are public schools open to all students, do not charge tuition, and operate independently of local school districts. It is our belief that the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School has been a positive option for families on Martha’s Vineyard during its first 19 years. All residents of Martha’s Vineyard are welcome to visit the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School to bear witness to how efficiently and effectively public funds are being used to educate the young people on the Island.

Robert M. Moore, director

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School

Martha’s Vineyard Interior Design (MVID) of Vineyard Haven received the “Best of Houzz” award by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design.

MVID was chosen for the 2015 Customer Satisfaction Award and the 2015 Best of Design Award by the more than 25 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community, according to a press release.

“Houzz provides homeowners with a 360-degree view of home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project,” Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz, said. “We’re delighted to recognize Martha’s Vineyard Interior Design among our “Best of” professionals for customer satisfaction as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Liz Stiving-Nichols, MVID co-owner and senior designer, said, “Receiving this award again is particularly meaningful, because it reflects our success in meeting clients’ expectations, as well as maintaining positive relationships with clients and professionals in our field of work.”

For more information, go to mvidesign.com or call 508-687-9555.

Many Islanders visit public libraries during the tax season to

get copies of the forms and instructions they need to prepare a

tax return. This year public libraries on Martha’s Vineyard have been notified that due to

budget cuts, the IRS will only be providing a very limited number of

forms through the libraries, and libraries will not be given any

instruction booklets to distribute.

People who require printed copies of the instructions and other forms

can order them from the IRS, through their web site (irs.gov) or by calling

800-829-3676. Forms can be delivered by mail, but may take time, so plan ahead.

by -
0
From left, Richard Leonard - Island Housing Trust President, John Saare - Housing Rehabilitation Specialist, Melissa Norton Vincent - TRI Program Manager, Fielding Moore- Edgartown National Bank President, Bill Dolan - FHLB of Boston, and Philippe Jordi - Island Housing Trust Executive Director, as the cut the ribbon. – Photo courtesy of Island Housing Trust

The Island Housing Trust (IHT) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday to celebrate the completion of six newly renovated rental apartments at Village Courtoff State Road in Vineyard Haven, behind Crane Appliance.

IHT purchased the six-unit apartment building in February 2014 for $600,000 from Ron Jackson, less than the appraised value. It then raised an additional $683,000 to complete the renovations and energy retrofitting necessary to rent the apartments to lower-income working Island families and individuals, according to a press release.

IHT executive director Philippe Jordi credited a number of generous contributors that included Edgartown National Bank and Island community preservation act committees. The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority will rent the apartments for between $693 and $1,022 to lower-income working Island residents earning between $24,700 and $47,600 annually.

For more information, go to ihtmv.org.

by -
0

The seventh-grade girls basketball team played two games this weekend with mixed results. First the girls took on Rochester at home, and were victorious, 27-22.

The Vineyard’s second game on Sunday morning in Falmouth was a heartbreaker, with the girls dropping a close game 26-22. Devin Hill did everything she could to win it for the Vineyard, but came up just short; she finished with 18 points, and Sasha Lakis added 4.

The girls end their regular season with three home games this weekend at the Oak Bluffs School. On Saturday, they will first challenge Barnstable at 1:10, then take on Lakeville for a double-header at 2:40 and 4:00.

by -
0
Ramone Dossantos shoots a free throw. – Photo by Kristen Jenkinson
Ramone Dossantos shoots a free throw. – Photo by Kristen Jenkinson

The sixth-grade travel boys basketball team played two games on Saturday, Jan. 17, and split the results. First, the Vineyarders took on South Plymouth, and won 47-17. Myles McNeal led all scorers with 11 points, and Ramone Dossantos scored 10. The Vineyarders worked together on defense to shut South Plymouth down, and were led by defensive standouts Josh Billings and Leo Neville.

Martha’s Vineyard lost its second game to New Bedford 45-36. Ramone Dossantos had another great game, scoring 13 points. Aiden Rogers hit two threes, scoring 6 points, and Keaton Aliberti also scored 6.

The boys’ next game is on Saturday at Oak Bluffs School against Plymouth, at 9:30 am.

by -
1

Steamship Authority traffic in November and for the first 11 months of 2014 increased over the same period in 2013.

File photo by Steve Myrick

In all categories, Steamship Authority traffic in November and for the first 11 months of 2014 increased over the same period in 2013, according to a business summary presented Tuesday at a meeting of the authority members.

The boatline carried 128,397 passengers in November 2014, up 1.4 percent over the previous year, and 2,169,327 year to date, an increase of 1.1 percent over 2013.

The boatline carried 12,656 regular-fare automobiles and 14,433 excursion autos for a total of 27,089 in November, a 1.3 percent increase over the previous year, and 367,461 autos year to date, a 1.3 percent increase over 2013.

Truck traffic was up 0.5 percent in November, and 1.7 percent year to date over 2013.

The SSA lost $2,012,236 in November, which was $206,172 higher than projected in the 2014 operating budget, due in part to $349,541 in unexpected maintenance expenses, management said.