Authors Posts by Steve Myrick

Steve Myrick

Steve Myrick

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Leandro Miranda listened to a court interpreter during his appearance in Edgartown District Court on July 10. —Photo by Steve Myrick

Leandro Miranda, 23, of Oak Bluffs pleaded guilty to drunk driving, failing to stop for police, and resisting arrest Thursday in Edgartown District Court. He was sentenced to 2.5 years in a house of correction, with nine months to serve, and the balance suspended for two years of probation.

Presiding Justice H. Gregory Williams also imposed conditions of probation that include no alcohol, and no driving without a license. If he violates those conditions after his release from incarceration, he could be returned to the house of corrections to serve the full 2.5-year sentence.

Mr. Miranda has amassed a long record of serious driving offenses this year, resulting in five separate arrests. In three of those incidents, Mr. Miranda tried to flee or evade police, according to court records, including twice when he fled in his vehicle at high speeds.

The plea agreement also included guilty pleas on charges of driving without a license, driving after a suspension of license for operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI), and negligent operation of a vehicle. He was found not responsible for a marked lanes violation, and a charge of destruction of property was dismissed at the request of the prosecutor.

Judge Williams revoked probation for Mr. Miranda on an earlier conviction of drunk driving, and ordered him to serve the 60-day sentence that was suspended as part of a plea agreement on August 10. The court also sentenced him to 60 days in a house of correction for an earlier conviction of driving after a license suspension for OUI. Both sentences are to be served concurrently with the longer sentence. Mr. Miranda, held without bail since his August 10 arraignment on the latest charges will get credit for 47 days already served in jail.

Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was notified shortly after the Brazilian national’s first arrest on March 2, according to a police report, there is no record of any action taken by federal authorities, until August 28, following his fifth arrest. ICE then issued a detainee order, requiring local authorities to hold Mr. Miranda in custody for 48 hours once his jail sentence and any other court proceedings are finished. According to the detainee order, ICE has “determined that there is reason to believe the individual is an alien subject to removal from the United States.”

ICE did not respond to repeated calls seeking more information about Mr. Miranda’s immigration status.

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The island of Chappaquiddick on the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard, is without cable service.

Dennis Goldin, a Chappaquiddick resident who is among several community leaders that have worked to bring cable television to Chappaquiddick, told Edgartown selectmen Monday that he expects to fall short of the threshold of 270 household signups Comcast requires before it will extend its cable infrastructure across the harbor channel to the small island community. Mr. Goldin asked selectmen to push for a revised contract with Comcast, to lower that threshold.

“In a little less than two months the December deadline is going to expire,” Mr. Goldin told selectmen. “It’s our best estimate at this point, we’ll have 200 homeowners that will have signed up.” He said the estimate comes from a poll of Chappaquiddick homeowners.

On July 16, shortly before one of two summer Chappaquiddick Island Association (CIA) meetings there were 92 deposits being held in escrow from homeowners who committed to cable service, according to residents involved in the negotiations.

Under a deal that took more than two years to negotiate, Comcast agreed to extend its cable infrastructure to Chappaquiddick if 270 households paid an advance construction deposit of $2,139 each. The original July 21 deadline for the deposits was extended by agreement between the town of Edgartown and Comcast.

Dr. Paul O’Donnell made a plea for the service Monday night. He told selectmen he was recruited to move to the Island to provide medical services to cancer patients at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He said he needs cable service, including high-speed Internet access, to treat Island patients.

“My wife and I bought a house on Chappy and moved here in March,” Dr. O’Donnell said. “In order to provide the services I need to do, I need to have access to MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) electronic medical records, and have ready access all the time. With the provider I have now, the service is so unreliable, half the time I cannot connect to the medical records.”

Chairman Art Smadbeck pledged to continue to work with Comcast.

“We’re so close,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “We’re not going to rest until we can close the gap. Some of the points you make, we’ll be able to use.”

In other business, selectmen voted to accept the quarterly report of animal control officer Barbara Prada, who said her department answered 415 calls for service from April through September.

“It was a quiet summer, which is fine with me,” Ms. Prada said. Selectmen Michael Donaroma noted that Ms. Prada’s detailed report included as many calls for seals, as snakes this summer.

“There are a lot of animals that people don’t realize are out there,” she said. “I’ve also had a couple calls about peacocks.”

Ms. Prada told the selectmen that she will take a medical leave in February, which she said is the slowest time of year for her department.

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The Dukes County courthouse in Edgartown.

A Dukes County Superior Court grand jury Monday indicted Carlos G. Stevenson, owner of Mosher Photo in Vineyard Haven, on a charge of aggravated rape of a child with force, and five charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

Police arrested Mr. Stevenson, 48, of Tisbury, on June 11. According to the indictments, all of the incidents took place between 2000 and 2003, in Tisbury and West Tisbury.

At the time of his arraignment in Edgartown District Court, Cape and Islands assistant district attorney Laura Marshard told the court the charges stem from a period of stalking and molesting a child, over several years, that began when the child was 10 years old. At that hearing, Mr. Stevenson denied all of the charges.

Following his June 11 arrest, prosecutors filed an additional charge of indecent assault on a child, involving the same victim but for incidents in West Tisbury. Mr. Stevenson has been free on $9,000 bail.

Also indicted Monday was Matthew P. Tucci, who lists his address as Boylston, but who has been living for long periods of time on Martha’s Vineyard, according to police.

The grand jury charged him with two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin, as a second and subsequent offense. He was also indicted on two charges of failing to register as a sex offender. Mr. Tucci was convicted of rape in 2000. At the time, he was 19, and living in Edgartown.

Mr. Tucci has a long record of drug convictions in several Massachusetts courts.

In January of 2013, with two heroin dealing charges pending in other courts, Oak Bluffs police arrested Mr. Tucci in a coordinated operation with the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task force. He was convicted of dealing heroin in Edgartown District Court, and sentenced to 18 months in the Dukes County House of Correction.

On March 6 of this year, he completed his latest sentence and was released. Thirteen days later, he was arrested again, on charges of dealing heroin. He was released after that arrest on $2,000 bail, but at his arraignment two days later, the court revoked bail, and ordered him held on violation of his probation. At a subsequent hearing, he was again released on bail.

On July 15, Mr. Tucci went back to jail. After a struggle with police on Sea View Avenue extension, he swallowed what police believe were packets of drugs. They later went to a home where he was staying, and seized a backpack they believe belongs to Mr. Tucci. Inside they found 11 individually wrapped packages of heroin.

Mr. Tucci has remained at the Dukes County Jail, held on parole violations, since his July 15 arrest.

Both men were originally arraigned on the same charges in Edgartown District Court. An indictment moves the case to Superior Court, where the law allows longer sentences, including state prison sentences.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Mr. Stevenson was indicted on charges in connection with a second victim. The additional charges stemmed from an incident with the same victim but in a different town.

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

The office of the Massachusetts attorney general has ruled that the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission twice violated the open-meeting law, first on Jan. 24, and then again on Feb. 12. The attorney general’s division of open government also ruled that the airport commission’s longstanding practice of posting notice of regularly scheduled meetings at the airport is a violation of the law.

Both meetings involved contentious disciplinary hearings for Beth Tessmer, a nine-year airport employee who was later fired. Ms. Tessmer has filed a lawsuit against the airport commission, airport manager Sean Flynn, assistant airport manager Deborah Potter, and the Dukes County Commission, alleging slander and defamation, discrimination, retaliation under the Massachusetts “whistle blower” law, wrongful discharge, denial of due process, civil rights violations, and civil conspiracy.

After a review of three complaints filed by lawyer Ted Saulnier, who represents Ms. Tessmer in the lawsuit, assistant attorney general Hanne Rush found that the Jan. 24 meeting was originally posted as beginning at 10:30 pm, rather than 10:30 am.

“While this appears to have been a clerical error, the commission’s meeting at the time other than that posted 48 hours in advance nonetheless constituted a violation of the open-meeting law,” Ms. Rush said in a letter to airport commission attorney Susan Whalen.

Ms. Rush said that the Feb. 12 meeting, an effort to correct the Jan. 24 discrepancy, also violated the law.

“The commission’s February 12 meeting notice stated it would be re-hearing an employee dispute, but failed to mention the reason for that discussion, including any mention of this complaint or the commission’s failure to properly post notice of the January 24 meeting,” Ms. Rush wrote. “Because the chair clearly anticipated discussing those matters, we find that the commission violated the open-meeting law by failing to specifically list all of the anticipated discussion topics in its February 12 meeting notice.”

Ms. Rush also faulted the airport commission for its practice of posting notice of regularly scheduled meetings at the airport, with copies sent to the Dukes County offices, the Dukes County courthouse, and local media. She noted that the commission is a regional public body, serving all six Island towns.

“Accordingly, our office has advised the commission that, going forward, it must comply with the notice-posting requirements for regional public bodies by posting notice in each town within the region in the manner prescribed for local public bodies in that town, or alternatively, posting to the airport’s web site.”

Ms. Rush rejected a third complaint filed by Mr. Saulnier, alleging the airport commission failed to provide proper notice to Ms. Tessmer about a disciplinary hearing on April 4. At that meeting, the commission voted to fire Ms. Tessmer.

The ruling does not impose any sanctions on the airport commission, but does include a caution.

“We therefore order the commission’s immediate and future compliance with the open-meeting law, and caution that future similar conduct may be considered evidence of intent to violate the open-meeting law.”

Earlier, in a separate ruling, the attorney general’s division of open government ruled the airport commission did not violate the open-meeting law by meeting improperly outside of its regular meetings.

In that complaint, Mr. Saulnier alleged that in early February, commission members John Alley, Denys Wortman, and Peter Bettencourt met improperly with the airport commission attorney and airport manager Sean Flynn at a time when the airport commission was embroiled in controversy over its disciplinary procedures and the eventual firing of Ms. Tessmer.

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An electronic sign at Five Corners cautions drivers that the Lagoon Pond temporary drawbridge is scheduled to be closed to traffic at 6 pm, Oct. 7, and reopen early the next morning. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The Lagoon Pond temporary drawbridge will be closed to traffic overnight, beginning at 6 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 7. It is expected to reopen the next morning, Wednesday, at 5 am. The bridge contractor will replace the deck panels that form the roadway on the temporary bridge, to improve safety. The bridge spans the channel into Lagoon Pond, connecting the town of Tisbury to the town of Oak Bluffs along Beach Road.

“The deck panels are being replaced because the top surface on the existing panels has worn down,” Department of Transportation (MassDOT) spokesman Michael Verseckes said. “We want to replace this in advance of the winter because in addition to snow and ice, this bridge is especially exposed to high winds and additional wear and tear caused by the salt air.”

Vehicles, including emergency vehicles, will have to detour using Barnes Road, Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, and State Road to reach destinations in either town during the evening and overnight hours.

The temporary bridge, completed at a cost of $9.3 million, opened to traffic in 2010. Construction of the permanent bridge, at a projected cost of $43.7 million, began in November 2013. The permanent drawbridge is scheduled to open to traffic next summer. After that the temporary bridge will be dismantled. There are plans to create a public park where the temporary drawbridge stands now, extending along the Lagoon Pond shoreline.

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Edgartown police chief Tony Bettencourt congratulates newly named student police officer Zachary Townes at town hall on Monday. —Photo by Steve Myrick

Edgartown selectmen unanimously approved the appointment of special police officer Zachary Townes as a student officer in the Edgartown police department, a standing that will give him a better chance of entering a 26-week police academy training course.

“This will put Zach into an early police academy this winter,” police chief Tony Bettencourt told selectmen. “When he gets out he’ll be a full-time Edgartown police officer. He’s going to pay his own way, but we’re promising him when he gets out, he’ll have that position.”

Chief Bettencourt explained that the demand for entrance to police training academies is so great that most academies are accepting only candidates who already have full-time police department positions.

Officer Townes will fill the open position created by Sgt. Kenneth Johnson’s retirement earlier this year.

“I’m very excited, very happy,” Officer Townes said following the meeting, as he accepted good wishes from family, friends, and five police officers who attended in support. “Anxious to get through the academy and get back and serve Edgartown.”

He is a 13-year employee of the town, beginning in the Parks Department at Recreational Field and on South Beach. He worked in the Edgartown School’s Bridge Program for students with intensive educational needs, then most recently with the police department. He has already completed a reserve police officer training course.

Officer Townes, along with Curtis Chandler, was one of two special officers appointed to full-year, part-time positions in August. Chief Bettencourt had high praise for Mr. Chandler.

“Eventually I hope to have both of these officers on the force,” he said.

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A vehicle driver is assisted backing onto the ferry Martha's Vineyard Monday.

The Steamship Authority (SSA) was back to normal operations Tuesday morning, following a day of delays and adjusted schedules due to a broken bow door on the Martha’s Vineyard that required some vehicles to back onto the double-ender ferry.

“The repairs to the bow door were completed and everything was tested by 2 or 2:30 this morning,” Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said. “All vessels were back in their normal position early this morning for the start of today’s operations.”

A crack in the support beams of the ferry door was the cause of the problem, Mr. Lamson said. Work crews welded plates over the crack as a temporary repair, and will make permanent repairs this winter, when the Martha’s Vineyard is scheduled for dry dock maintenance.

The SSA took the ferry Martha’s Vineyard out of operation at 5 pm, Monday to begin repairs. Freight boats were pressed into service with extra runs to handle passenger and vehicle traffic, and some trips were diverted from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven.

The Island Home’s 9:30 run from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole was cancelled, and the vessel remained in Vineyard Haven overnight, because Martha’s Vineyard occupied its usual overnight berth at the Woods Hole facility. The two boats swapped places early Tuesday morning, in order to make their regularly scheduled 6 am trips.

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Some vehicles were required to back onto the ferry Monday, because of a broken bow door.

The Steamship Authority (SSA) announced this morning it would remove the Martha’s Vineyard from the schedule at 5 pm, Monday in order to repair a malfunctioning bow door on the double-ender ferry.

The SSA said the Martha’s Vineyard will run on or close to schedule until 5 pm today, when the ferry will be taken out of service for repairs to the balky door. She will be replaced by the freight boat Katama.

SSA personnel helped drivers back onto the ferry.
SSA personnel helped drivers back onto the ferry.

As a result, the 5 pm Woods Hole to Oak Bluffs and 6:15 pm Oak Bluffs to Woods Hole trips will be diverted to Vineyard Haven, the SSA announced in an email alert sent out at 11 am, Monday. “There will be limited passenger capacity on the 5 pm, 7:30 pm and 9:45 pm Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven trips, as well as the 6:15 pm and 8:30 pm Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole trips,” the SSA said. “The 9:30 pm Vineyard Haven trip will be cancelled.  Customers may travel on either the 8:30 pm or a special trip at 10:30 pm from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole.”

The 9:30 pm departure of the Island Home from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole has been cancelled because with the Martha’s Vineyard tied up for repairs there will be no place for the ferry to berth in Woods Hole. Instead, she will remain in Vineyard Haven for the night.

“There is a crack in one of the internal support beams on the bow door of the Martha’s Vineyard,”  Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, told The Times. “We need to weld temporary plates over the crack to make the door operational until we can make permanent repairs in the shipyard.”

Mr. Lamson estimated the repair would take 10 to 12 hours.  “We expect to have the Martha’s Vineyard back in Vineyard Haven [Tuesday] morning for the 6 am run,” Mr. Lamson said.

Under normal circumstances, vehicle drivers drive on and drive off the double-ender ferry. The problem first began Sunday, causing slight delays in service.

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

The Martha’s Vineyard airport commission returned to the Dukes County courthouse last Thursday and asked a superior court judge to block the Dukes County commission from expanding the size of its appointed airport commission from seven to nine members, on the basis that it is a direct violation of state and federal funding-grant assurances that prohibit county interference in airport affairs.

The latest battle in the long-running war between the county and airport commissions also attracted the attention of the Massachusetts Division of Transportation (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division, which expressed uneasiness with the expansion and demanded an immediate explanation from the county commission chairman of the rationale behind the vote, and the benefits of the airport commission, which by state statute is responsible for the care and custody of the county-owned airport, expanding from seven to nine members.

Last Wednesday the county commissioners voted 6 to 0, with one abstention, to increase the size of the airport commission to nine members. The commissioners immediately appointed pilot and businessman Myron Garfinkle of West Tisbury, and Robert Rosenbaum, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, former businessman and pilot.

The county commissioners 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.

On Sept. 17, the commissioners appointed Beth Toomey, retired West Tisbury police chief and briefly an interim county commissioner, to fill the unexpired three-year term of Mr. Bettencourt, who resigned in August.

Since April the county commissioners have appointed five new members, who would constitute a majority if the commission is allowed to expand to nine members.

Former airport commissioner and county commissioner John Alley of West Tisbury was the only dissenting vote. Mr. Alley questioned whether the expansion would violate the grant assurances.

No problem

County manager Martina Thornton told commissioners that she had researched the issue of expanding the size of the airport commission. She assured the commissioners she did not foresee any problems.

Ms. Thornton cited as an example the Norwood Airport Commission, which expanded earlier this year.

“The grant assurances that Norwood has have the same things that our grant assurances have,” Ms. Thornton said. “Norwood signed them in 2013, and they expanded their commission from five to nine this spring. There hasn’t been any controversy. Being the same, I don’t think we should have a problem. And I also was on the phone with the counsel from MassDOT, and I asked him the question if expanding the board would trigger us violating the grant assurances. They told me as long as we stay within the law, which is 3 to 11, and as long as the new members adhere to the other grant-assurance provisions, that there should not be an issue.”

County commission chairman Leonard Jason, Jr., of Chilmark, a veteran county commissioner who has been in the thick of the battle, had his own view. “I’m sure they’ll sue us again,” Mr. Jason said.

Clear violation charged

On Thursday airport commission attorney David Mackey filed a motion in Dukes County Superior Court, and asked to amend the airport commission’s existing lawsuit against the county. If the court allows that motion, the airport commission will ask for a temporary restraining order to prevent the county move to expand the commission.

“This action constitutes yet another direct violation of the grant assurances, which is a legally binding contractual commitment to the [county commission] ‘not to take any action to reorganize’ the MVAC (Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission) or ‘in any way to interfere with the autonomy and authority’ of the MVAC,” Mr. Mackey wrote in the motion filed Sept. 25.

Mr. Mackey asked the court to “declare that the county commission lacks the legal authority to increase the size of the MVAC from seven to nine members, and to appoint two new members, or otherwise to interfere with the autonomy and authority of the MVAC, without the express written approval of the Aeronautics Division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and issue an injunction prohibiting the county commission from so doing.”

Motives questioned

In 1997, Stephen R. Muench, executive director of the Mass Aeronautics Commission (MAC) sought the signatures of the county commissioners on a set of grant assurances that freed up millions of dollars in state and federal funding for a new terminal, and which prohibited interference by the county manager or county in airport affairs. The commissioners also signed in their capacity as self-appointed airport commissioners.

Last week, one day after the county commission vote, in a letter dated Sept. 25,

Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator, asked Mr. Jason for an explanation of the vote.

“Given the litigious history between the county and the airport commission, it is incumbent upon the Aeronautics Division to ensure that this sudden increase in membership is not a reorganization of the airport commission, nor is it an attempt to interfere with the autonomy and authority of the airport commission, as referred to in the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Grant Assurances,” Mr. Willenborg said. “Please be advised that any such reorganization or interference would require ‘the express written approval of the Aeronautics Division. Accordingly, please immediately provide me, in writing, with your rationale for the increase in membership, the qualifications of the two appointees, and how the appointments benefit or improve the functioning of the airport commission beyond that of what was a seven-member board.”

No choice

Airport commission chairman Constance Teixeira of Tisbury, in a phone conversation Friday morning, said the commission needed to take immediate legal action.

“The airport has a responsibility to maintain the airport without interference,” Ms. Teixeira said. “We have no choice.”

A Superior Court judge is expected to hear arguments on Oct. 7.

Ms. Teixeira canceled the airport commission’s regular monthly meeting, scheduled for Sept. 26. She said the airport commission would not have been able to get a quorum, because of the illness of several commissioners.

The airport commission filed its original lawsuit on May 5. This is the second time the airport commission has amended its lawsuit in response to the actions of the county commission. The county commission filed a counterclaim to the lawsuit, asking the court to declare the airport is under the jurisdiction of Dukes County, as a subdivision and department of the county, according to Massachusetts law.

The court has already issued a preliminary injunction against the county commission on all other issues in the original lawsuit. On August 7, Associate Justice Richard Chin ruled for 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, based on his view that the airport commission has shown “a likelihood of success on the merits.” Judge Chin said the county commission is enjoined from appointing the county manager to the airport commission as an ex-officio, nonvoting member; the county manager is enjoined from serving in such a capacity; and the county treasurer is enjoined from refusing to pay invoices duly approved for payment by the airport commission, from obtaining privileged or confidential communications between the airport commission and its attorneys without notice to, or the consent of, the airport commission, and from releasing those communications between the airport commission and its attorneys to the public.

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The contractor installed inverters, which emit a constant hum, close to several homes. —Photo by Steve Myrick

Edgartown selectmen called American Capital Energy (ACE) and the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) to its regular Monday meeting to address numerous issues with two large solar-energy installations constructed over the spring and summer.

ACE is the contractor which won the bid to install solar arrays in Edgartown and six other communities as part of a complex public bidding process managed by CVEC.

A sound consultant hired by the town found that noise coming from equipment at the solar array installed on town land near the Nunnepaug well site off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road clearly violates noise standards set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Residents of the Smith Hollow development, which abuts the Nunnepaug site, said there are also issues with screening, fencing, security, site maintenance, and landscaping.

“We’re going to make this right,” chairman Art Smadbeck said. “One way or another, this is going to be corrected.”

Sound advice

The solar panel array is located close to the Smith Hollow neighborhood.

Residents say three inverters installed on the Smith Hollow side of the solar array are emitting a constant hum during daylight hours. The inverters convert direct current (DC) solar energy into alternating  current (AC), which allows the electricity to flow into the commercial grid.

Lawrence Copley, a noise-control engineer hired by Edgartown selectmen to evaluate the noise levels, measured the noise coming from the inverters on Sept. 18, a sunny day when the facility was producing solar power at near capacity.

“The sound from the inverters is clearly in violation of the Massachusetts DEP noise policy, and also constitutes a noise nuisance, in my opinion, based on the sound level and measurements reported here,” Mr. Copley wrote in his report to the town. According to his measurements, taken from the rear deck of one of the residences, the inverters increased the level of noise by 40 percent over the ambient sound level, from 35 dBA of ambient noise to 49 dBA when the inverters were operating at near capacity (dBA is a scientific measurement of relative noise levels). Mr. Copley recommended building acoustic screens around the three inverter platforms to shield the residential neighborhood from the noise.

Zac Osgood, project manager for ACE, said a noise consultant hired by his company recommended attaching vent baffles to the equipment, which, he said, would bring the noise level into compliance with state regulations.

Town administrator Pam Dolby was concerned that ACE could not guarantee the baffles would reduce noise to an acceptable level, while the solution recommended by the town’s noise consultant would be guaranteed. Mr. Smadbeck proposed a compromise.

“You give us the estimate for your solution,” he told Mr. Osgood. “We’ll get an estimate for our solution. We’ll do our solution, because I think it’s better, and we’ll pay the difference.”

Smith Hollow resident Jim Cimeno said the problem could have been averted by installing the inverters on the other side of the site, which abuts forested conservation land.

“Right from the start, I suggested they move them to the other side,” Mr. Cimeno said. “We were told they weren’t going to make any noise.”

Mr. Smadbeck asked why the inverters were located near residential homes.

“You guys are familiar with this equipment, you know ahead of time it’s going to create a problem,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “Why did you put them on the house side of the project, instead of the woods side?”

“The [inverters] are laid out for interconnection purposes,” Mr. Osgood said. “They are placed on that side because of the run of cable, it makes it easier to get to the point of connection.”

Liz Argo, special projects coordinator for CVEC, said at other projects the cooperative oversees, inverters do not produce any noticeable increase in sound level.

“I’ve been a little bit embarrassed,” Ms. Argo said. “We have other solar sites where this is not a problem. This is clearly a problem.”

Other issues

Neighbors and town officials also fault the contractor for a lack of maintenance and poor screening, fencing, and landscaping.

“There was supposed to be a maintenance schedule,” said town administrator Pam Dolby. “It doesn’t appear there has been any maintenance at all. What the town would like to see is a schedule of maintenance, so it doesn’t look like an overgrown field with some panels.”

Security is another issue raised by health agent Matt Poole and building inspector Leonard Jason, Jr. The solar array is surrounded by a 12-foot chain-link fence, but on Tuesday, there was no lock on the gate to the facility. Inside, despite warnings of an electric-shock danger printed in several languages, there were no locks on any of the inverters or other equipment.

Cedar trees planted as a buffer, as specified in the contract, were also a point of contention. Neighbors said 23 of the trees are damaged or dying, and were left with no grading, seeding, or mulch.

According to town officials, in July, a subcontractor said he was unable to complete the job as specified in the contract, because he couldn’t find a supplier that could get 200 trees to Martha’s Vineyard.

At that point, selectman Michael Donaroma, who owns a landscaping company, said he would contact his suppliers, and was able to get the trees, and arrange ferry transportation. He was hired by White Bros.-Lynch Corp., the subcontractor responsible for overall site excavation and grading, to do the planting. Mr. Donaroma said he is responsible for the trees, but was not contracted to do the grading, seeding, or mulching.

“There are a few that are dead that need to be replaced,” Mr. Donaroma said. “I don’t want to do it now because it’s too dry and hot. At the end of my contract I replace anything that’s dead. I take care of the trees for a year, I have to guarantee they survive.”

Neighbors also said there was no screening around the exterior of the facility, as the contractor promised. Mr. Osgood said the company intends to attach green opaque screening to the chain-link fence in the near future.

Conservation agent Jane Varkonda said similar problems are evident at the solar array constructed on town-owned land at Katama Farm.

“We would like something in writing,” Ms. Varkonda said. “We have the same issues at Katama, the trees are smaller, and the weeds are growing taller than the trees. They hadn’t mowed any of the grass around the solar arrays until two weeks ago.”

Selectmen agreed to document each of the outstanding issues in a certified letter to ACE, and Mr. Osgood agreed to respond with a date the work would be completed.

“We will get to the end of this, and it will be right,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

The original online version incorrectly reported that solar panels produce alternating current, which must be converted to direct current. The opposite is correct.