Authors Posts by Nathaniel Horwitz

Nathaniel Horwitz

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The Steamship Authority met Tuesday and approved 2015 winter and spring operating schedules.

The SSA's newest ferry is designed to carry freight trucks and passengers. — Illustration courtesy of the Steamship Authority

The Steamship Authority (SSA) met Tuesday morning in Vineyard Haven and voted on a name for its new $43 million passenger/vehicle ferry, approved 2015 winter and spring operating schedules, and promised new changes down the line that will include improved passenger WiFi and electronic passenger ticketing.

Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg expressed concern about shoaling in the harbor linked to the need for SSA ferries to turn around.
Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg expressed concern about shoaling in the harbor linked to the need for SSA ferries to turn around.

The SSA had narrowed the name choices for its new ferry, scheduled to replace the Governor in spring 2016, to Quissett and Woods Hole. On a motion by Falmouth member Catherine Norton, seconded by Vineyard member Marc Hanover, the board voted on Woods Hole.

A contract for the boat’s construction is expected to be awarded in December. The single-ended boat will have an uncovered back deck and be capable of carrying 384 passengers and 50-55 cars or 10 semi-trailer trucks. It will serve as a replacement for the aged Governor, which will be sold or scrapped. The Governor’s new $3 million engines will replace the engines on the Sankaty, SSA general manager Wayne Lamson said.

In response to questions from Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur, Mr. Lamson explained that the decision to go with a single end design as opposed to a double-ender was based on cost and the need to service Nantucket. A double-ender would have exceeded the authority’s budget, he said.

The SSA approved the 2015 spring and winter operating schedules with few changes from last year. The winter schedule will start four days later, on January 6, and end one day later, on April 14. The spring schedule will start one day earlier, on April 15, and end one day later, on May 14.

Mr. Lamson also presented the board members with a list of proposed goals for the next 12 months. Mr. Lamson said his goals include oversight of several SSA construction and maintenance projects, as well as improved passenger WiFi and an electronic ticketing system that would allow passengers to purchase tickets online.

Business report

SSA board member Marc Hanover listens to the opinion of his fellow board members.
SSA board member Marc Hanover listens to the opinion of his fellow board members.

Total operating revenues for May increased by $163,317, or 1.9 percent versus the amount projected in the 2014 operating budget, for a total of $8,821,483 in operating revenues. Passenger revenues for the month were up $53,000 versus budget projections, which represents a 2 percent increase. Automobile revenues were up $33,000, or 1.3 percent, versus projections for May. Freight revenues were up $80,000, or 3.1 percent, versus budget projections for the month.

Year-to-date operating revenues through May increased by $496,553, or 2.1 percent, versus the amount projected in the 2014 operating budget, for a total of $24,532,583. Passenger revenues for the year were up $57,000 versus budget projections, which represents a 0.9 percent increase. Automobile revenues were up $14,000, or 0.2 percent, versus budget projections for the year. Freight revenues were up $334,000, or 3.8 percent, versus budget projections for the year. Year-to-date, the vessels have made 7,312 trips. This represents a decrease of 114 trips, or 1.55 percent versus budget.

The SSA transferred a $2.9 million surplus to the special purpose fund, which will go towards the new Woods Hole terminal and ferry slip repairs. A price estimate for the project, expected to be between $40 and 60 million, will be presented by the architecture firm Bertaux+Iwerks by the end of the year.

SSA board members Catherine Norton of Falmouth and Jack Tierney of New Bedford did not attend the meeting, but they participated via conference call.

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The president and his family are expected to stay in a home well off North Road in Chilmark that features a basketball court and pool.

A view of President Obama's vacation getaway at 72 Gosnold's Way in Chilmark. — Photo by Nathaniel Horwitz

The White House late Wednesday confirmed that President Obama and his family will return to Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks of vacation in August.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arriving on Martha's Vineyard last year for their summer vacation.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arriving on Martha’s Vineyard last year for their summer vacation.

“On Saturday, August 9th, the President and the First Lady will travel to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” a White House official said on background. “They will remain there until Sunday, August 24th, when they will return to Washington, D.C. There are no public events scheduled at this time and further details on travel will be released when they are available.”

The president is expected to return to Chilmark, the town that is clearly their favored vacation spot on Martha’s Vineyard. The family will stay in a secluded house off North Road that overlooks the north shore and Vineyard Sound, according to property owners familiar with the elaborate security preparations that precede a presidential visit.

Though not confirmed by the White House, the Obamas are expected to stay at the home of Joanne Hubschman at 72 Gosnold’s Way off Prospect Hill Road, said neighbors and Prospect Hill residents, some of whom requested anonymity because Ms. Hubschman told them on condition of secrecy. The seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and is assessed at more than $12 million. It features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court.

“She told us it was a secret, but I guess the secret’s out,” Lillian Kellman, a neighbor, said in a conversation with The Times at the front door of her home. “The whole Island probably knows by now. My husband will remember when we first heard it.”

Ray Kellman, Ms. Kellman’s husband, was cutting zucchini in the kitchen. He paused in his kitchen chores to retell his story.

As he did last summer, President Obama is expected to spend a lot of time on the Island's golf courses.
As he did last summer, President Obama is expected to spend a lot of time on the Island’s golf courses.

“We first heard about it when a friend of ours said, ‘I hear the Obamas are staying on your road this summer,’ a few weeks ago, before we’d heard anything about it,” Mr. Kellman said. “Then the real estate guy, Tom Wallace, called us. He explained that Obama would be here and that they were coming to stay nearby, and that they appreciated our help, since they wanted to keep a communications vehicle — no one will be in it — at our house, powered with electricity from our garage. Wallace came by, he looked around, took some pictures looking for the best spot for the vehicle. I thought that there are too many trees around here, but Wallace said the vehicle has an antenna that can go up 150 feet, above the treeline.”

A visit by a Times reporter to 72 Gosnold’s Way brought Ms. Hubschman to the door. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said, smiling. “I’ve heard nothing about that.”

Real estate agent Tom Wallace of Wallace & Co. in Edgartown has handled housing arrangements for the Obamas during previous Island visits.

In a telephone conversation with The Times late Wednesday, Mr. Wallace would not confirm any visits to Gosnold’s Way, but he did confirm his involvement again this year in helping to find a vacation retreat. “As you can imagine, there are security concerns, so I can’t confirm any locations,” he said. “Each year we choose three viable options, and we have not executed a final decision for this year.”

Asked what he looks for when seeking properties for the President’s visit, Mr. Wallace said, “A basketball court is great, a swimming pool is nice, privacy is obviously important.”

The Prospect Hill Association is scheduled to hold a meeting at 9 am, Saturday morning where residents of the exclusive subdivision are expected to learn more about checkpoints, the screening process, and whether or not there will be a list of names of people approved to enter Prospect Hill during the first family’s stay, according to one member of the association who asked not to be identified. The Hubschman property is not part of Prospect Hill, but its access runs through the subdivision.

Agents for the Obamas originally inquired about renting the home of Frank V. Sica at 60 Prospect Hill Road, which also has a pool, vast water views and access to the Prospect Hill Association’s tennis courts. They ultimately decided to look at the next road over, Gosnold’s Way.

Ms. Hubschman makes her home in Greenwich, Conn., and had four children with her husband of more than 25 years, Henry Hubschman, who had a distinguished career in law, government and business until his death in 2011, according to his obituary. He was president and CEO of General Electric’s Aviation Services and Infrastructure divisions, which grew from assets of $10 billion to $49 billion under his leadership. “He took special pleasure in hosting friends and family at their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard,” read his obituary in the Washington Post.

Word of a repeat presidential visit began circulating around the Island in March. The president brings a large entourage of Secret Service agents, White House staffers, and support personnel, and the White House began arranging for lodging this spring, according to sources.

Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the first family rented Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28.5-acre secluded compound on Tisbury Great Pond. The house was sold in December 2011 to architect Lord Norman Foster and his wife, Lady Elena Foster, of Thames Bank in Great Britain under the name of a holding corporation.

Last year, the first family also stayed in Chilmark, renting a 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house valued at $7.6 million just a short distance off South Road. Owned by David M. Schulte, the home has an attached, two-bedroom guesthouse, small basketball court, and water views. That visit necessitated the closure of South Road, much to the irritation of many local residents and Chilmark selectman Warren Doty. No road closures are anticipated this trip.

Past presidential vacation activities have included golf, more golf, bike trips with the family, hikes, and dinner with friends.

Electric bicycles are now available at several Island rental outlets. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Bicycles with electric motors, also known as e-bikes, are the newest form of rental transportation to appear on Martha’s Vineyard roads and bike paths. E-bike rental agents promote the bikes as a safe, green alternative to controversial mopeds.

Depending on the brand, e-bikes can exceed speeds of 30 miles per hour, although state law prohibits travelling faster than 25 mph.

E-bikes operate as normal 7-speed bikes but have a lithium-ion battery that provides an optional “pedal-assist function” with four settings. Using low, medium, or high settings, riders can get one, two, or three extra pedals for each human pedal. The fourth option is to exclusively use the throttle, which involves no pedalling. The battery is good for about 20 miles on the throttle, and much longer when only the pedal-assist function is engaged.

AA Auto Rentals began offering e-bikes on July 6 through a company offshoot called Island Electric Bike. The company offers 20 Aviva brand rental e-bikes boasting maximum speeds of 19 mph.

“They are a safe, eco, green alternate to the moped and you can ride them on bike paths,” owner Bryan Nelson said in a conversation with The Times from his Vineyard location adjacent to Five Corners. “We only rent during the day, but they’re equipped with lights. I’m only renting them to 18-year-olds and up, 16 and up with parental consent, and I’m requiring a helmet, because I want to sleep at night. Everyone also has to watch a four-minute safety video before they hit the road.”

The charge is $39 for a half day and $69 for full-day rentals.

Diagonally across Five Corners, Robert Breth, owner of the Martha’s Bike Rentals, said he plans to stock e-bikes. “I haven’t placed an order yet but we will be getting involved,” he said in a conversation with The Times at his store. “There’s demand.”

Tisbury administrative assistant Aase Jones said electric bicycles are not subject to any town bylaws. “We do not issue permits for electric bicycles,” she said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “They are treated like regular pedal bikes, but mopeds are definitely regulated by bylaws. A business does not have to come to us before renting out electric bikes the same way they don’t need a permit to rent normal bikes.”

Edgartown police officer Joel DeRoche said that the department has not received any complaints concerning electric bicycles. “Nothing’s drawn my attention to e-bikes,” he said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “Most of what we get are calls about mopeds on bike paths.”

State law does not allow children under 16 years of age to operate e-bikes and requires both a helmet and either a driver’s license or a learner’s permit, according to Executive Office of Public Safety spokesman Charles McDonald in an email to The Times. The fines for noncompliance are $25 for the first offense, $25-50 for the second, and $100 for subsequent violations. E-bikes are permitted on bike lanes adjacent to roads but may not be used on off-street recreational paths, meaning that e-bikes may not travel on bike paths passing through the State Forest.

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Owen Hight-Schnickel, left, and Brett Easter battle for the ball. — Photo by Michael Cummo

More than 20 Island teams faced off in the 12th annual Vineyard Streetball Classic three-on-three basketball tournament last weekend in Oak Bluffs. The first team to score 11 points won. The action was fast and furious.

Sean James drives towards the hoop.
Sean James drives towards the hoop.

The teams, often coed, were allowed two substitutions. Each basket was worth 1 point. Excessive fouling gave a point to the other team. The three divisions were ages 9-11, 12-14, and high school, each with both a winners’ and losers’ bracket.

“Omar Daniel felt that there was a down period with basketball on the Island, so he put together this 3v3 tournament with his uncle, Michael Daniel,” Oak Bluffs park director Mark Rivers said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “He tied it in with fitness and nutrition to fight obesity. Turnout this year was good, 20 to 25 teams, but we were hoping for a few more.”

This year the Classic, which started Saturday, July 5, had to be finished on Sunday due to rain. “The weather was sketchy,” said Mr. Rivers. “The teams played from 8 am to 2 pm, but then it rained and we had to put it off until the next morning.”

Mr. Rivers hopes that next year there will be a wider range of contestants. “I’d like to see it expand to the old-timers,” he said. “You know, the guys who think they can still play but really can’t. It’d be nice to get the community more engaged and broaden the audience.”

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Edgartown Independence Day parade impressed despite one-day postponement due to Hurricane Arthur.

The sun shone for the Fourth of July Parade, held on the fifth of July, due to Hurricane Arthur. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Hurricane Arthur pushed Edgartown’s Fourth of July parade back by one day, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants or the parade watchers who lined the route on a bright, sunny afternoon.

Parade marshall Joe Sollitto kicked off the parade at precisely 5 pm. The strains of bagpipes, courtesy of Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard pipers in the lead, announced the arrival of the parade to spectators anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first floats.

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Children waving flags lined the streets anxiously awaiting the passage of the floats and the opportunity to snag candy tossed their way. Parents snapped photos.

The floats rolled by in all shapes and sizes, representing a variety of organizations. Island elected officials rolled past in decorated cars, Vineyard Sound, an a cappella group, sang as they rolled by, costumed Jabberwocky campers waved, miniature horses trotted, and improvisational actors staged scenes as they swaggered by — all drawing applause from the crowd.

Members of the MV Peace Council marchers brought up the rear of the parade and invited onlookers to pick up a poster with a message endorsing peace and join the group. Emergency vehicles, sirens blaring, signaled the end of the parade.

“We’ve come every year for the 4th of July since before Molly was born,” said Marylou Sullivan of Acton, tugging her granddaughter Molly Martin away from an oncoming Vineyard Vines float. “She’s ten. We’ve been coming, what, 16 years? I’m loving this one. It’s excellent, you forget that it’s not actually the 4th.”

Molly interjected. “I like seeing the candy,” she shouted, “flying at my face!”

Candy was definitely the highlight, according to several kids. “The candy was the best,” said Bruce Beaulieu, here for the fourth time with his parents, Claudia and Bruce, and his sister, Peia, from Boca Raton, Florida. “The candy, and the old cars,” he said.

Kate Beauvais of Hopkinton was there with her brothers Marc and Matt and her parents, Ed and Jen, for a week-long beach trip. “4th of July candy corns,” she shouted, chomping on bubblegum.

Her mother beamed. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing as July 4th candy corn,” she said. “We’re heading to the fireworks next. When you’re young, this is the highlight of the summer.”