Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman
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Voters will choose Tuesday between Frank Brunelle and Larry Gomez.

Photo by Michael Cummo

Tisbury voters go to the polls Tuesday. Topping the election ballot is a contest to fill one seat on the three-member board of selectmen.

Frank Brunelle, a Tisbury businessman, will face off against Larry Gomez, owner of Greenwood House inn and longtime chairman of the finance and advisory committee.

Larry Gomez first arrived on Martha’s Vineyard when he and his late wife Kathy Stinson visited Boston so he

Larry Gomez
Larry Gomez

could run the Marathon, and decided to take a side trip to the Island. It was 1981. They continued to visit each year, and purchased their first house in 1986. They purchased the Greenwood House B and B and moved to the Island full-time in 1994.

Mr. Gomez said he first became interested in town government as an opponent to the community preservation act. He later ran for a seat on the Finance and Advisory Committee. He has served on the FinCom for 15 years, eight as chairman, and served as a member of many other committees.

Frank Brunelle and his wife Vasha, both artists, have lived in Tisbury for 35 years, and at one time or another

Frank Brunelle
Frank Brunelle

have owned businesses in all three down-Island towns. Mr. Brunelle is a past president of the Tisbury Business Association, and helped organize the business community to defeat the town’s proposal to use the West Chop Woods as a waste disposal site. A past president of the Nathan Mayhew Seminars, he lives with his wife on Beach Road, and he owns and maintains several old wooden boats.

The Times posed a series of questions to each candidate, and asked that they respond in writing in not more than 400 words. The questions and their responses follow.

Q and A

Why did you decide to run for election to the board of selectmen?

Mr. Brunelle: I decided to run for the board of selectmen for the same reason that I decided to run for planning board. The only way to influence our boards is to be a member of one of those boards.

Mr. Gomez: I am running for selectman to bring another voice to the town, a voice that shows fiscal responsibility and is not afraid to go against conventional wisdom. I am a listener. I don’t have an agenda, and I want what’s best for Tisbury. I want to give back to the town what it’s given me, a strong sense of pride in my community. Being selectman means listening before you speak, being conscious of your constituents, and working toward a solution with facts, not emotions.

What would you suggest can be done to reduce the pressure on Tisbury taxpayers?

Mr. Brunelle: One way to reduce the pressure on Tisbury taxpayers is to set limits. It would be similar to Proposition 2.5, but directed specifically to non-town finance questions, such as from nonprofits. From attending this year’s town meeting, I was amazed at the amount of articles and subarticles that dealt with spending on various issues. Many of these are extraneous to the town, and involve nonprofits or other entities, and there are no limits to the amounts that the town can conceivably spend on these. But fundamentally, it depends on the voters. However, it is difficult for voters to resist appeals which have good purposes.

The selectmen are not equipped as presently organized to examine costs of town building projects, nor should they be, but rely upon the finance committee to recommend whether or not costs are in line, and what should and should not be spent.

Mr. Gomez: As I stated at town meeting, the answer to reducing the pressure on taxpayers is to just say no. When confronted with town meeting warrant articles, we all need to research, get the facts, and then decide if a money article is best for each of us and the community. If not, just say no.

Voters set the tax rate by what we vote at town meeting, not the assessors, FinCom, or board of selectmen. They work with a formula that sets the tax rate based on the vote on town meeting floor.

Our town budget is approaching $24 million. Someone may think this is high. It is not. Sixty-seven percent of the budget represents union-negotiated salaries and benefits related to Tisbury School, along with federal and state mandated programs.

Yes, we should examine the town’s overall budget carefully. But we also need to make sure we are not being held back in our ability to provide daily needed services. We all want to have a safe environment and a rich vibrant harbor, to allow Islanders and guests to get the best out of Tisbury and the Vineyard.

Please describe the state of Tisbury.

Mr. Brunelle: The state of Tisbury is very complex.

Housing can be affordable, if land and building costs are low. But the real problem in new construction is land. When dealing with existing housing, it is another matter.

Another problem is the Tisbury School. Education is a great concern of mine. I spoke to a teacher who talked of warped floors, of terrible conditions where the heating was so hot that the windows needed to be open in order to let out heat in the winter so that she could teach, of an old and crumbling building.

The influx of illegal labor operating on a basis that drives down the wages of local workers: Tisbury, like all of the towns, has to deal with this. It is fundamental, and undermines everything.

There is the continued growth of the Steamship Authority, which focuses on tourism rather than year-round needs. It is something that we can not control, and which controls us, and is an intractable problem. The selectmen have had some input into this, including what I consider a misguided attempt to move the SSA to Beach Road. Unlimited vehicular tourism access, large bus tours, all very profitable — and very damaging.

Tisbury has changed over the past 20 years, is about to change again radically, and this process is going on often in secrecy; without brakes, we will end up very much worse off than we are now. Lack of transparency, lack of stakeholder participation, concentration of power, undue influence characterize the Tisbury process at this time.

Mr. Gomez: Tisbury has been through several lean years, and now we must catch up. This means increasing some budgets. In doing this, the voters should continue to be mindful of capital expenditures, exploding social programs, and the appearance of the county’s need to grow.

I think the town is in pretty good financial shape. Overall, the town’s infrastructure and appearance could be improved, for example by placing utilities underground. We tend to plan, but find it difficult to follow through, as with the DPW barn, which was torn down but has yet to be replaced.

 

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Marylee shown out for an early morning run in West Tisbury .

Six Martha’s Vineyard runners braved the cold and rain to complete the 119th Boston Marathon on Monday.

Marylee Schroeder of West Tisbury, running in her 12th Boston Marathon, clocked in with the fastest Islander time of 3:38:28. James Lanctot of West Tisbury came in at 3:41:13; Erin Tiernan of Oak Bluffs 3:53:51; Jamie Leon of Oak Bluffs, 3:58:05; Dianne Carr of Edgartown, 6:02:56; and Katie Stafford of Oak Bluffs, 6:36:32.
“It was a lot colder than I expected,” Ms. Schroeder told The Times on Tuesday. “I ditched my rain jacket right before the start, and I really regretted it. They said that with wind chill, it was the coldest Boston Marathon on record. It was a struggle.”

Despite the brutal conditions, Ms. Schroeder bested her 2014 time by six minutes and 19 seconds. This year’s epic winter did not stop her from training. Ms. Schroeder said she and a small group of runners managed to run every Sunday without fail. She also took the the “Runners Challenge” with Chantal Desgagne of Vineyard Haven, and ran every day in the month of January. “I ran during that first blizzard. I figured if I can do that, I can run in anything,” she said laughing. “But Monday was really tough.”

 

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The Capawock is undergoing renovations, and the deal was signed on the Strand.

The rejuvenation of spring is in full bloom at the Strand and Capawock theaters. Last Thursday, Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation (MVTF) Director Mark Snider announced he had signed a 20-year lease with the Hall family, owner of the Capawock theater in Vineyard Haven. With that out of the way, the lease for the Strand still had to be finalized.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Snider told The Times that the lengthy lease negotiations for the Strand Theatre had finally concluded, and that he and Ben Hall Jr. had signed on the dotted line late Tuesday afternoon.
Work crews were already busy clearing out and cleaning the Capawock theater last week. This week the seating will be removed so new flooring can be installed. Work will begin on the Strand Theatre next week.
Mr. Snider said the MVTF has raised $765,000 of its $1 million goal.
“This has been a great team effort between the public and the theater foundation,” he said. “It’s wonderful to get so close to our [fundraising] goal, but we’re not there yet.” Mr. Snider stressed donations of any amount are welcome. Both theaters are still on track to open on May 29.
For more information, go to mvtheaterfoundation.org.


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Eli Laikin, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Caio Proti.

The Martha’s Vineyard boys lacrosse team scored in the waning minutes of its game against Bishop Feehan to make the score 5-5 and put the game into overtime at home Friday.

The momentum was stopped short 27 seconds into sudden death overtime when Bishop Feehan scored the winning goal.

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Voters approved a request to purchase the old VNA building for the Center for Living.

West Tisbury voters went to the polls Thursday.

West Tisbury went to the polls Thursday to elect town officers and vote on four spending questions.

A total of 384 of the town’s 2,479 registered voters, or just over 15 percent, went to the polls Thursday. That was far more than showed up for the second night of annual town meeting. Absent a quorum, the meeting was rescheduled to 7 pm, Tuesday, April 28.

Voters turned down a request to fund a portion of the Up Island Regional School District budget by a vote of 147-206.

Voters said yes to a proposition 2.5 request to repair the school roof (206-145).

Voters narrowly approved a request to contribute to a county purchase of the former VNA building as a new home for the Center for Living (180-171).

And they said no to funds for a new school playground by a vote of 119 to 219.

Voters elected Dan Waters, moderator, (334); Jeffrey S. (Skipper) Manter, selectman (284 votes); Timothy A. Barnett, board of health (294); Michael Colaneri, board of assessors (261); Brent B. Taylor, tax collector (286); Tara J. Whiting, town clerk (322); Jeremiah Armstrong Brown, tree warden (299); Caroline R. Flanders (281), Margaret H. Gallagher, library trustees (268); Gregory W. Orcutt, finance committee, (285); Susan S. Silva, planning board (288); Leah J. Smith, planning board (279); Timothy A. Barnett, constable (286); Lisa Amols (277), Jeffrey S. Manter, parks and recreation (276).

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The Registry of Motor Vehicles will not produce the plates until there are 1,500 preorders.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles approved this design.

Following an extensive selection and design process, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has approved Martha’s Vineyard specialty license plates that will benefit Martha’s Vineyard Community Service, the Island’s social service umbrella agency.

The winning license plate design was created by seasonal Island resident and frequent MV Times contributor Gwyn McAllister. It features a scene all Islanders would recognize – a ferry on the sea, with a gull hovering above.

Gwyn McAllister designed the winning license plate design. – Photo courtesy Gwyn McAllister
Gwyn McAllister created the winning license plate design. – Photo courtesy Gwyn McAllister

“There are so many iconic images of the Island, but I was looking for something that was representative of the Vineyard as a whole,” said Ms. McAllister, a freelance journalist and copywriter who splits her time between Oak Bluffs and New York City.  “The Steamship is a common denominator and a part of just about everyone’s Vineyard experience. Every car here came on the ferry at some point so I thought it was an appropriate symbol for a license plate.”

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) launched the campaign last year and received dozens of compelling designs. A panel of judges representing all the Island’s towns picked the winner based on several criteria, including the design’s creativity and its qualities when viewed on a license plate.

The RMV approval means that motorists can now pre-order the specialty license plate through www.mvlicenseplate.com and via paper application. Before the plates can be produced, 1,500 pre-orders need to be collected along with a $40 special plate fee. The fees will be held in escrow until the 1,500 threshold is reached. Once that number is achieved, it will take approximately six months for the plates to reach the registry branches.

Of the $40 initial registration fee, $12 goes to cover the state’s production cost of the plate and $28 returns to MVCS and other Island non-profits. There is an additional one-time $20 swap fee charged by the state when applicants pick up their plate at their local RMV. When motorists renew their special plates every two years, that entire $40 tax-deductible fee will benefit Martha’s Vineyard non-profits.

MVCS serves as the principal non-profit sponsor of its license plate initiative. Revenue generated from the license plate will be used for funding its vital programs and a range of support services for individuals and families all over the Island, according to a press release. In keeping with the agency’s community-minded spirit, MVCS has committed to donating a portion of net proceeds to other Island non-profits that benefit youth and elders.

To register for your special Martha’s Vineyard license plate or for more information visit www.mvlicenseplate.com. Email info@mvlicenseplate.com with any questions.

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— File photo by Ralph Stewart

Edgartown town hall closed at 1:30 Friday afternoon due to a sewering problem, according to the town website.

David Thompson, chief operator at the Edgartown wastewater department, told The Times the closure was due to plumbing problems at town hall. “It’s an old building, it’s not the first time this has happened,” he said. Mr. Thompson said tree roots have also bedeviled town hall plumbing and sewering in the past.

 

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James Stix Weisman (known to all as Jamie) died suddenly on March 1, 2015, of an apparent heart attack while visiting family in Philadelphia. He had never shied away from talking or joking about his death, much to the chagrin of his children. But part of this stemmed from a real fear; at 73, he had lived 20 years longer than his own father.

James Weisman
James Weisman

The son of Dr. Donald Jesse and Susan Stix Weisman, Jamie was born in New York City on June 19, 1941. He had an older brother, Hugh, and a younger brother, Donnie (died age 7). Growing up in Scarsdale and summering in Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard eventually brought Jamie, along with his cousin Louis Stix, to sailing there and living on the boat, heralding what would become a long history with the Island, boats, and travel.

A graduate of Dartmouth (1963) with a B.A. in art history, Jamie went on to earn his master’s degree in architecture, with honors, from the University of Pennsylvania (1967). There he was the recipient of numerous awards, including the coveted Charles Merrick Gay Prize, the A.I.A. Honor Award (top in his class), and the Paul Philip Cret Medal for first rank in architectural design. He would return to receive a second master’s degree (1974) under the tutelage of Louis Kahn, with whom he would go on to assist in the design for the National Assembly Complex, Capital City in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Another great influence on Jamie’s ideology was Buckminster Fuller, who popularized the geodesic dome, and worked tirelessly on unifying disparate elements like philosophy and the systems of nature, in order to create comprehensive design solutions for doing more with less in a world of finite resources. In addition to his extensive studies, Jamie also taught and acted as visiting critic to learning institutions in Philadelphia (Philadelphia College of Art), Martha’s Vineyard (Island Design Center, Nathan Mayhew Seminars), India (National Institute of Design Ahmedabad, School of Architecture Ahmedabad), and Singapore (University of Singapore).

Jamie owned boats for most of his life, including the 90-foot yacht The Ariadne, which he partially sank; motor boat The Jack Daniel’s; 28-foot racing sloop The Raven; 51-foot steel ketch Namaste; and 30-foot sloop La Tonka (Lake One Design). An accomplished sailor of adventurous spirit, he journeyed the world by both land (in a VW Kombi Microbus from Germany to India) and sea to more than 50 countries, offering his architectural services along the way to large companies and small villages alike. Structures of all kinds, including hospitals, hotels, schools, libraries, theaters, meeting halls, museums, government buildings, public housing, private homes, estates, and an embassy, seamlessly integrated into their environments and designed or assistant-designed by Jamie, freckle the globe throughout Antigua, Bequia, Singapore, Fiji, Penrhyn, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Philadelphia.

Much of this work was also done on Martha’s Vineyard, from 1976 to 1986 and 1990 to 2015, where for much of that time he retained an office on Water Street across from the Black Dog, overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor. Jamie’s work on the Island has resulted in hundreds of constructions which, even early on, demonstrated his philosophy of utilizing wood-frame construction and solar technologies. In 1982 Jamie designed the first public, solar-assisted shellfish hatchery in the United States. Combining both active and passive solar energy components, the hatchery has been successfully producing millions of seed quahogs and scallops for decades. In 1985 he designed and built a house to show skill, which he dubbed The Crow’s Nest. It was his original intention to sell it, but he would ultimately make it his home. Nestled in downtown Vineyard Haven, it utilizes passive solar technology with a three-story cathedral-ceilinged greenhouse as the front entry, and boasts an octagonal widow’s walk.

His influence can also be felt through his mentoring, introducing various foreign nationals from countries including France, India, and Cameroon, into his practice and subsequently, his increasingly diverse Island community. Recent years found Jamie working on his own hometown offering, The Vineyard Haven Harbor Walk Project, a longtime dream of his, to which he brought his previous experience in the assistant-design of Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia for Frank Weise (another Kahn associate, who trained under Walter Gropius at Harvard). The project appeared to be making headway at the time of his death, and a model can be seen at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.

Even with everything he had accomplished, there was always a part of Jamie that felt he could have done more, and wished he had. There were many opportunities and positions he turned down or vacated early, including working for I.M. Pei, finishing a mansion project in Ahmedabad for Bernard Cohen, designing the University in Kathmandu, Nepal, and working again for Kahn on one of his capitol buildings under the elevated title of chief site architect. Much of this tumult stemmed from struggles with anxiety and depression due to bipolar disease. Jamie was ultimately proud to be a survivor, however, and outwardly maintained an extremely upbeat attitude. He was an early riser, and could often be seen strolling downtown with one of his dogs (he had many over the years), to the office, or to the Black Dog Tavern for breakfast looking out at the harbor, or over to a spot on Main Street to get a cup of coffee and read the paper. There were regular jaunts to the Gannon and Benjamin boatyard, mere steps from his office, to chat with owners Nat, Ross, and Brad Abbott, talk shop, and see the latest work. And he spent copious hours at Owen Park (his longtime mooring location), doing vessel maintenance, chatting with Harbormaster friend Jay Wilbur, and conceiving wild renovation ideas for the park itself.

He loved the theater and its denizens, and in addition to designing and building dozens of sets, he appeared in many Tisbury Amphitheater productions as an actor, usually in small roles, including in Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was an avid reader, a hobbyist writer; he kept journals of his travels, and filled them with drawings and watercolor renderings befitting both a draftsman and an artist. In his younger days, when he had some money and was perhaps filled with manic gusto, he collected hosts of musical instruments, and a few of the auspicious cars he favored, including a sitar, a 12-string Martin guitar, a GT Roadster, and the ever iconic Morgan 3 Wheeler.

In 2001, Jamie flew himself and a crew to New Zealand to collect his latest vessel, a 50-foot steel-hulled, gaff-rigged ship later dubbed Perception. One crew member was Brazilian wash-ashore Maria Laura Camargo, who along the journey back became more than just another crew member. In 2004, they were married, and set sail for a honeymoon in the Azores. Son Nathaniel followed a year or so later. It was during this era also that Jamie resurrected an old part-time hobby, running, and discovered in it a powerful tool that profoundly reduced symptoms of suffering, and increased quality of life.

Jamie will be dearly missed. He is survived by wife Laura and son Nathaniel; four children from previous marriages: daughter Elizabeth and partner Amy May of Philadelphia; daughter Tanya and partner Ari Handel of Brooklyn; and sons Donald and Zebulon of Martha’s Vineyard; grandchildren Zelda, Elias, and Morgan; brother Hugh and partner Suzanne of New York; younger half-siblings Ann Weisman Hogeland of Williamstown; and John Oliver Simon of Berkeley, Calif.

He was cremated March 3 in Philadelphia. His ashes will be scattered off the jetty in Menemsha, where he scattered his mother’s, and at the River Ganges in India, the place he considered his spiritual home. Laura and the Weisman family extend their deepest thanks to the Island community for the many outpourings of warmth and kindness since Jamie’s passing.

 

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In the only race on the ballot, Kevin L. Searle defeated incumbent parks commissioner Joel M. Graves.

Edgartown voters went to the polls Thursday.

Edgartown voters went to the polls Thursday and said yes to four ballot questions. In the only race on the Edgartown ballot this year, Kevin L. Searle (233) defeated incumbent parks commissioner Joel M. Graves (186).

A total of 485 of the town’s 3,128 registered voters, or just under 16 percent, turned out to cast a vote.

Voters said yes to four Prop. 2.5 ballot questions. Prop. 2.5 limits property tax increases by municipalities to 2.5 percent annually. There are general overrides to increase the tax levy, and debt exclusion overrides, which exist only for the life of the debt.

Voters said yes to two ballot questions related to the paving of Meetinghouse Way at a cost pegged at $755,000.  The vote was 256-214 to override Prop. 2.5 and 262-206 to exempt the debt.

Voters agreed to chip in on the county-engineered purchase of the VNA building to house the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living and its Supportive Day Program by a vote of 354-108.

The center currently uses borrowed space at the Edgartown and Tisbury Council on Aging buildings, and has been searching unsuccessfully for a new home. Under the county formula, Edgartown taxpayers would kick in about $493,000.

Edgartown taxpayers also agreed to exempt the debt payments to help pay the costs of constructing a new school administration building on the grounds of the regional high school by a vote of 284-175.

In uncontested races for three-year terms, Arthur Smadbeck was reelected to the board of selectmen (366 votes); Laurence Mercier was reelected to the board of assessors (395); E. garrett Orazem was elected to the board of health (395); Scott Ellis was elected constable (404); Morton Fearey Jr. (300), Paulo C. DeOliveira (301), and Robert Coad (write in -78) were elected to the financial advisory committee; Herbert Foster (353) and Julie L. Lively (326) were elected to the board of library trustees; Philip J. Norton Jr was elected moderator (410); Fred D. Mascolo (261) was elected to the planning board; Megan E. Anderson was elected to the school committee (356); Melissa Kuehne was elected town collector (391); Sean Murphy was elected to the wastewater treatment commission (368), James Kelliher won a seat on the water commission (391).