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This information and interactive map provided as a courtesy to our advertising partners from the 5/21 issue of The Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Memorial Day weekend on Martha’s Vineyard is traditionally very busy with Open Houses, and 2015 is no exception. The Martha’s Vineyard real estate market is in full swing, with numerous open houses Saturday and Sunday.  Be sure to check out our interactive map of open houses as well…

Saturday, May 23

LAER Realty Partners
141 Lake Street Vineyard Haven MA – 10 AM to 12 PM
3 Bedrooms / 2.5 Baths
Enter raffle to win a bottle of Prosecco and spring flower arrangement!

Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate
10 Ploughshare Drive, Oak Bluffs MA – 1 to 3 PM
3 Bedrooms + Loft, 2 Baths, Updated Kitchen, Fireplace, AssociationTennis & Salt Water Access
Directions: Edgartown/VineyardHaven Rd to Hidden Cove Entrance, turn left at stop sign, first right onto Ploughshare. House is on right. Look for Open House signs and balloons!

Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate
337 Main Street, Vineyard Haven MA – 1 to 3 PM
5 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Bright Open Interior, Sunroom, Expansive Verandah, Walk to the Beach & Vineyard Haven
Directions: Main Street to right on Owen Little Way. House is on the corner on the left behind the tall hedge. Look for sign and balloons!

Harborside Realty
43 West Farm Rd. West Tisbury MA  – 1 to 3 PM
4 Bedrooms / 3 Baths
Directions: West Tisbury Road to Coffin’s Field Association. Follow Coffin’s Field Rd. to the end. Turn right onto West Farm Road. #43 is the last house on the right.

MV Seacoast Properties
31 Meetinghouse Hill Road Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
Charming 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath. Screened porch. Full Basement. One acre. Easy access to South Beach, Edg Great Pond, Edgartown and bike paths.
Directions: West Tisbury Rd to Meeting House Way across from Codmans Spring Rd. First left onto Meetinghouse Hill Rd. to first right to #31 Third from end.

Ocean Park Realty
11 Crescent Road Oak Bluffs MA – 1 to 3 PM
Directions: From New York Ave turn on Munroe and go all the way to the last right; turn onto Atlantic Avenue, a dirt road, follow to near the end and see signs on driveway on the right.

Point B Realty
70 South Water Street Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
Circa 1830’s Masterpiece: 4 bedrooms/5 Baths

Point B Realty
25 Vickers Way Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
Move-In Perfect With Pool: 3 bedrooms, 4.5 Baths

Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate
6 Fresh Pond Road Oak Bluffs MA – 2 to 4 PM
A 2005 home on a 1.5 acre parcel with frontage and views on serene Wiggy’s Pond; 4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths $1,150,000
Directions: From northbound on County Road, look for Fresh Pond Estates entrance on right, after Sengekontacket. From southbound on County Rd, look for entrance on left, 200 yards past Southern Woodlands clearing on right. Look for Open House signs and balloons!

Sunday, May 24

Harborside Realty
61 Curtis Lane Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
5 Bedrooms / 5 Baths
Directions: Upper Main Street to Curtis Lane. Follow Curtis Lane to the end. House on the corner of Curtis Lane and Clark Dr.

LAER Realty Partners
141 Lake Street Vineyard Haven MA – 1 to 3 PM
3 Bedrooms / 2.5 Baths
Enter raffle to win a bottle of Prosecco and spring flower arrangement!

MV Seacoast Properties
42 Windsor Drive Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
Spacious A Frame Style Home. Vaulted Ceilings. Full basement with finished workshop. Gas FHA/Central AC Wood Stove. Great Central Location.
Directions: Edg Vineyard Have Rd to Windsor Drive (between Dodgers Hole & Briarwood). Turn onto Windsor Dr to #42 on the right.

Point B Realty
50 North Water Street Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
In-Town Chic Retreat: 5 Bedrooms, 6.5 Baths

Point B Realty
16 Simpsons Lane Edgartown MA – 1 to 3 PM
Luxurious Poolside Living: 4 Bedrooms, 5.5 Baths

Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate
6 Fresh Pond Road Oak Bluffs MA – 2 to 4 PM
A 2005 home on a 1.5 acre parcel with frontage and views on serene Wiggy’s Pond; 4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths $1,150,000
Directions: From northbound on County Road, look for Fresh Pond Estates entrance on right, after Sengekontacket. From southbound on County Rd, look for entrance on left, 200 yards past Southern Woodlands clearing on right. Look for Open House signs and balloons!

MV Seacoast Properties
62 Deep Bottom Pond Road West Tisbury MA – 2 to 4 PM
Beautifully appointed 3+ bedroom Colonial home with 3 car garage on 2.8 lovely landscaped acres. Association Tennis & Water access. Central A/C.
Directions: West Tisbury Road from Edgartown to first Deep Bottom Pond entrance (East) with white corral style gates. Turn into Deep Bottom to #62 on the left.

RE/MAX on island
13 Old South Road Aquinnah MA – 2 to 4 PM
Amazing Aquinnah – Ocean Views! 3 Bedrooms / 4 Baths

The ride sharing business said it will be in full operation on Martha’s Vineyard for the Memorial Day weekend.

Taxicab owners are concerned about the impact Uber will have on Martha's Vineyard.

After dipping its toe in the Martha’s Vineyard taxi pool, Uber, the app-based ride-sharing service is jumping in with both feet. The company announced that beginning at 5pm, Friday this Memorial Day weekend, UberX will be in full operation on the Island, and over 20 other east coast vacation destinations, including Nantucket, Cape Cod, Bar Harbor, the Hamptons and the New Jersey shore.

In an email to The Times late Wednesday, Uber spokesman Craig Ewer said, “Now that we’ve announced our official launch, we’re working hard to ensure that there are enough drivers on the road to meet the increased demand we expect over the holiday weekend and through the summer.”

Mr. Ewer said that there are “dozens” of Uber drivers already operating on Martha’s Vineyard. The cost of an uberX ride is $2.50 base fare plus $0.25 per minute and $1.90 per mile. Mr. Ewer also said that UberX is about 31 percent cheaper than a local taxi, however this claim has not been verified by The Times.

Local taxi cab companies have bitterly complained to local boards of selectmen about the prospect of what they said would be unfair competition from Uber and asked town officials to intercede to block the service from operating on the Island. Since Uber is legally considered a transport network company (TNC) and not a traditional taxi company, the question of regulation remains a fluid one.

In a letter dated May 7 addressed to West Tisbury town administrator Jennifer Rand, town counsel Ronald Rappaport said the town’s current regulations only pertain to traditional taxi cab companies. Mr. Rappaport said that in his opinion, current regulations do not give the board the power to regulate TNC’s, but state law gives the board “broad authority to promulgate regulations governing TNCs.”  Mr. Rappaport said the town could expand its rules and regulations after following its procedures for doing so.

“The Governor has recently filed a bill with the state legislature to establish a state-wide law regulating TNCs,” Mr. Rappaport added. “However, until the legislation is final and enacted into law, it is too early to assess what impact the law may have, if any, on the town’s authority to regulate TNCs locally.”

At a meeting of the Oak Bluffs selectmen on April 28, police Chief Erik Blake said that state law cannot be superseded by local bylaws. “I can enforce taxi-stand and bus-stop violations, but because people are doing commerce with their phones, it’s very hard to oversee,” he said.

Uber is an on-demand car service that enables drivers who qualify to use their own cars and to work their own hours, as independent contractors. Uber can also be used by taxi drivers and car services. Using the free app for iPhone and Android devices, riders request service and the type of vehicle they want. Dispatch software sends the nearest driver to the location, and tells the riders how long their wait will be. The Uber app signup requires a credit card number, so no cash changes hands. The app also comes with a fare calculator, so riders will know how much they’ll be paying before the car shows up.

Uber charges are based on a combination of time and distance, and vary by location.

A journey that began thousands of miles away from Martha’s Vineyard continued with a struggle just beyond an Island roadway.

From left to right: DMF fisheries biologist Brad Chase, West Tisbury conservation commission administrator Maria McFarland and Johnny Hoy at the herring run.

One week ago Monday, I joined a small group on the bank of Mill Brook, just below the aging Mill Pond dam, to assess the strenuous efforts of Johnny Hoy, West Tisbury herring warden, to fine-tune a fish ladder placed to provide a passage for herring over the concrete barrier that impedes an annual migration that predates the 17th century arrival of the first Mayhews.

Weeks earlier, herring in the hundreds had gathered in the pools below the dam, but hesitated to continue a journey that began in the Atlantic Ocean, then through the manmade cut in the barrier beach that separates Tisbury Great Pond from the sea, and on to the upper reaches of the pond in search of their natal waters.

Herring below the Mill Pond spillway, either unable or unwilling to use the fish ladder. Photo by Johnny Hoy.
Herring below the Mill Pond spillway, either unable or unwilling to use the fish ladder. Photo by Johnny Hoy.

John had tinkered with the boards that controlled flow, and used his considerable stonemasonry skills to create pools below the dam where migrating fish could stage. When he thought the fish were not honing in on the ladder outflow, he constructed a rock weir to direct fish to the opening of the fish ladder.

“It doesn’t look bad. I don’t know why this isn’t passing fish,” said Brad Chase, a Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) senior marine fisheries biologist and diadromous fish expert. Brad and Ed Clarke, head of the DMF fishway crew, had arrived with materials, expecting to have to adjust the run, but after a close examination, they decided there was little they could improve upon.

“I think what you did is what needed to be done,” Brad said. Still, the question remained, Why were the herring not using the run? Were they traveling at night? John could not say for sure.

Strong water flow, thought to be an issue, was discounted. John had watched what happened when after 40 years, the boards used to dam the Tiasquam and create a pond on the former Rainbow Farm were removed, with the support and permission of Grey Barn Farm owners Eric and Molly Glasgow. Herring had returned.

“I didn’t think they were as powerful as I now know they are,” John said, after watching the fish battle the pond outflow. “They just want to go up; they just want to keep going till they can’t go any further.”

Brad stepped into the pool below the Mill Pond dam for a closer look. He stooped and took a handful of gravel. When he opened his hand, a small natural miracle — an elver, or glass eel — wriggled in his palm.

Division of Marine Fisheries senior biologist Brad Chase holds a glass eel in the palm of his hand.
Division of Marine Fisheries senior biologist Brad Chase holds a glass eel in the palm of his hand.

The American eel is one of those species which remind us that natural mysteries remain in life. It is the only fish in North America that spawns in the ocean and grows to maturity in freshwater, a cycle we do not know a lot about. The juvenile eel Brad held in his hand was born in the Sargasso Sea.

“It is one of the most amazing migrations for fish that I know of in North America,” Brad told me in a followup conversation to his morning visit. “Two thousand kilometers from the Sargasso Sea, heading westward toward the continent, and they end up almost anyplace from Brazil on up to Labrador. We just don’t know where they are going to end up.”

The eel that Brad picked up had traveled through Tisbury Great Pond in search of suitable habitat. If it survived, it could grow to more than one foot long before it returned to its birthplace in the Sargasso Sea.

Eels face many risks, not the least of which come from humans. The American eel is being considered for listing as an endangered species. Limited trap fishing is still allowed for adult eels. “Our commercial landings are at historic lows,” Brad said. “They’re absolutely the lowest that we’ve seen.”

To add insult to injury, after cleaning out the European stocks, Asian buyers turned their attention to the U.S.  Elvers are in high demand in the Asian market, where one pound commanded prices as high as $2,000 in 2012, according to DMF. Only South Carolina and Maine allow the limited harvesting of glass eels. With prices high, poachers are a continuing threat to any efforts to help restore eel populations. One poacher with a fine mesh net can set back a whole generation.

The eel Brad held had survived natural predators and poachers, and now was up against a dam. On the other side of the road, I dropped down to the dam and saw a remarkable sight. An elver struggled to snake its way up a moss-covered stretch of concrete, something they can do if the surface is wet and rough, Brad said. Ideally, Brad said, with no obstructions, the eel would follow Mill Brook up and feed until it reaches maturity.

This weekend, the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) will host an Environmental Film Festival at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center titled “Nature as Inspiration: The Films of Jacques Perrin.” I’m no filmmaker, but the video clip I took of that elver provides all the inspiration I need to know why Mill Brook would be better off without that dam.

As VCS celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is worth asking why an organization dedicated to environmental advocacy has been silent in the public discussion.

Want some more inspiration? Talk to Johnny Hoy. The guy has gone through three pairs of waders trying to clear choked passages, and the town won’t spring for a new set (he’s a size 9, by the way).

“He’s just one of the best examples of that herring warden who is barely compensated, but throws all kinds of hours at this goal of keeping these runs going,” Brad said. “I learn so much everytime I come out.There are just a bunch of Johnny Hoys around the state who I’m just very lucky to know, and they really are priceless because so much of it is the experience you get from going to a site over and over again.”


Dick’s hosts tournament

Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs will host its 23rd annual Memorial Day Weekend Derby. The contest begins at 12:01 am Friday morning and ends at noon Monday.

The fishermen who catch the heaviest bluefish or bass from the shore or a boat will earn cash prizes. The cost to enter is $30, and all the entry money goes right into the prize pot.

Owner Steve Morris said the fishing for bluefish is picking up. Call 508-693-7669 for more information, or go to dicksbait@comcast.net.

Catch and release and have fun

The 24th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch and Release tournament takes place next Saturday night, May 30.

There are three prize categories: the Roberto Germani Trophy, for the most striped bass caught and released by a team; the Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy, for the largest striped bass caught and released; and the Arnold Spofford Trophy, for the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly per team member. The club will host a breakfast in the high school cafeteria Sunday morning, followed by an awards ceremony at 9:30 am.

The entry fee is $35. For tournament information or to contribute prizes, contact Cooper Gilkes at 508-627-3909.

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Following a passenger complaint, boatline says passengers, employees must adhere to no-smoking rules.

The Steamship Authority was finishing up improvements to the Vineyard Haven staging area on Wednesday. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Steamship Authority (SSA) free Wi-Fi service, often of intermittent quality in the past, has seen dramatic improvements following an upgrade in technology, SSA director of information technologies Mary Claffey told boatline members last week.

Ms. Claffey reported on the SSA’s efforts to improve the connectivity of its free Wi-Fi service at the boatline’s monthly board meeting held May 12, according to a management synopsis of the discussion. Ms. Claffey said that “after the SSA made significant upgrades and transitioned to a leading-edge technology, it has seen dramatic increases in the Wi-Fi’s usage and much better throughput.”

Ms. Claffey said many of the problems travelers encountered in accessing the Internet were due to the fact that they were using cellphones with all of their websites bookmarked instead of using a browser to get to them. Ms. Claffey stated that, as a result, they do not see the initial page, where customers see the SSA’s terms and conditions of usage, and have to click on the “I agree” button in order to use the Wi-Fi.

She said the SSA is working on a solution that will cause that page to appear automatically on different devices. She also noted that there is no Wi-Fi service on a vessel’s freight deck, which may also account for complaints.


Less wait on waitlist

Reporting on several improvements the SSA is making to its online reservations system, SSA General Manager Wayne Lamson said the general public will soon be given the option of allowing their waitlist requests to be filled up to 12 noon the day before their scheduled departure. Currently, the SSA stops processing customer waitlist requests 48 hours in advance of the customer’s scheduled departure. Finally, the SSA is working toward processing waitlist requests on a real-time basis, instead of processing them once a day in the late evening. As a result, customers will be informed more quickly when the SSA is able to provide them with their waitlist requests, management reported.


Smoking on the job

Frequent SSA travelers are familiar with the sight of SSA employees smoking on the job. Last month, a customer complained to board members about SSA employees smoking at the Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven terminals while collecting tickets.

According to the management synopsis, “a review of the SSA’s policies confirmed that SSA employees are prohibited from smoking while performing their duties, including loading vehicles and collecting passenger tickets, and that customers are also prohibited from smoking on any terminal ramps (as well as on any vessel or in any SSA building, van, or bus). But no policy specifically prohibits customers from smoking when they are in line to board a ferry.”

The SSA members approved a staff recommendation to add passenger queuing lines to the list of locations where smoking is prohibited on SSA property. “The SSA will be enforcing this policy by, among other things, posting signs, and asking customers not to smoke out of courtesy to their fellow passengers.”

In a follow up, The Times asked SSA general manager Wayne Lamson if employees are allowed to smoke while on duty and not performing their duties, or only during designated breaks.

Mr. Lamson, in an email to The Times, responded, “Employees are allowed to smoke on SSA property but not in terminal buildings, on vessels or buses and not while performing duties such as collecting tickets or checking in vehicles. There are no designated work breaks or smoking breaks.”

Not all ferry companies allow employees to smoke while at work. A spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, told The Times that Washington State Ferry employees are not allowed to smoke at all, while on duty or during breaks.


Cost breakdown

Also last week, SSA Treasurer/Comptroller Robert Davis described each route’s respective cost of service for passengers, automobiles, and trucks during the 2014 calendar year. The analysis helps determine how costs will be allocated between the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket routes.

On the Martha’s Vineyard side of the ledger, Mr. Davis said that in 2014, total vessel operating costs increased by $177,118, or 0.7 percent; total indirect non-vessel costs decreased by $280,622, or 1.2 percent, principally due to decreases in dolphin and dock repairs; and, as a result, the overall cost of service for the Martha’s Vineyard route decreased by $103,504, or 0.2 percent, from 2013.

The number of trips operated increased by 63 in 2014, with total capacity for the year increasing by 3,560 car-equivalent unit spaces. The number of spaces occupied increased by 9,673, or 1.6 percent, from 2013, resulting in an increase of the occupancy rate from 79.9 percent in 2013 to 80.8 percent in 2014.

The estimated cost of a car-equivalent unit space was $52.32 in 2014, down from $53.55 in 2013. On average, automobiles covered 91.4 percent of their allocated cost of service, with standard-fare automobiles covering 123.4 percent and excursion-fare automobiles covering 38.1 percent.

By comparison, on average, trucks were covering 108.8 percent of their allocated cost of service.

By comparison, the overall cost of service for the Nantucket route decreased by $1,135,587, or 4.2 percent, from 2013.

The number of trips operated increased by 63 in 2014, and 3,060 more spaces were provided in 2014 than in 2013. The total number of spaces occupied increased by 6,155, resulting in an increase in the occupancy rate from 80.9 percent in 2013 to 82.7 percent in 2014.

The estimated cost of a car-equivalent unit space was $117.35 in 2014, down from $129.36 in 2013. On average, automobiles were covering 128.3 percent of their allocated cost of service, with standard-fare automobiles covering 164.8 percent and excursion-fare automobiles covering 45.8 percent. By comparison, on average, trucks were covering 98.1 percent of their allocated cost of service.

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Patten Companies is poised to sell or develop the 90-acre, 26-lot subdivision adjacent to the Southern Woodlands in Oak Bluffs.

A sign at the property entrance of the moribund South Wood Farms subdivision provides a glimpse of the original vision.

A locked steel gate at the entrance to a paved entry road off County Road in Oak Bluffs has not kept out the vandals responsible for breaking every window in the only two partially constructed and defaced model houses on the property, known as South Woods Farm. The pond that was to have been the centerpiece of an equestrian-themed subdivision of 26 luxury home on 90 contoured acres remains just a sandy crater in the midst of oak trees and pitch pines.

The site of a proposed pond.
The site of a proposed pond.

Now, after more than a decade in limbo, the fate of the moribund subdivision will be decided by Patten Companies, a family-owned network of companies based in Williamstown with a long history and national track record of successfully financing, selling, developing, and marketing recreational and residential properties in rural locations across the country.

South Woods Farm is the remnant of the dream Corey Kupersmith of Greenwich, Conn., once held of developing a golf course in Oak Bluffs on a swath of land now known as the Southern Woodlands. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), the Island’s powerful regional permitting body, dashed that dream, and Mr. Kupersmith followed up with litigation and development threats.

The dispute was settled when the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank purchased the majority of Mr. Kupersmith’s property and the MVC approved the South Woods Farm subdivision. Construction began with two model homes, but was halted after Mr. Kupersmith’s financial foundation fell apart.

Vandals have broken most of the windows in this model home shell.
Vandals have broken most of the windows in this model home shell.

In 2012, Farlap Development Corp., the original development company controlled by Mr. Kupersmith, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The mortgage, valued at almost $5 million, reverted to People’s United Bank of Connecticut, which has repeatedly offered to sell its right, title, and interest in the property. Foreclosure auctions were scheduled and rescheduled due to Mr. Kupersmith’s legal entanglements.

Michael Patten, chief executive officer of Patten Companies, told The Times one of his family’s subsidiary companies, National Land Partners, recently purchased the mortgage, and now plans to conclude foreclosure proceedings.

An auction is scheduled for Friday, June 26.


What they do

“We’ve developed communities all over the country, and done business in 40-plus states over the years,” Mr. Patten told The Times in a telephone conversation Tuesday.

Following the recent real estate downturn, the company began buying broken bank projects. “We get the projects back, we fix them up, we take care of all of the issues,” he said, “and turn around and market them. We’re sales and marketing guys, that is what our company is really all about.”

The company learned about the Kupersmith property through its many banking connections. Over the course of the past three years, as the property gyrated between bankruptcy, foreclosure, and canceled auctions, Patten Companies was in contact with People’s United Bank.

“We offered to buy the note from them and take that off their hands, so they didn’t have to deal with all that,” Mr. Patten said. “We were too far apart for a long time, and it just took a long time, it was probably three years of back and forth, and they finally said yes.”

Patten Companies does not own the property yet, and may not. On June 26, auctioneer J.J. Manning will auction the property.

“One of two things will happen,” Mr. Patten said, “A, we will have enough bidders and we will have an auction, and someone else will buy it at foreclosure; or B, if we are unhappy where the bids are coming in, we will bid it in and take it back, and we will do what we do, which is finish up the project, and market and sell the lots to end users and to builders.”

Mr. Patten said he will be happy either way, but he expects the property to go at auction based on the level of interest — 91 builders/developers ready when the property was previously scheduled to go on the auction block — and continued inquiries about the property.

Mr. Patten declined to put a value on the property. “We’re going to let the auction price it,” he said.

Pressed for a number he said, “Those are larger than average lots, and looking at the comparables around, I’m sure a lot of similar stuff is selling in the $400,000–$500,000 range, and we’ve got 20 of them, a couple with houses on them.”

Four lots in the development were earlier sold to private buyers, and are not listed in documents related to the bank sale. The remaining two lots were owned by a separate company and are now controlled by a bankruptcy trustee. Any proceeds of that sale would got to the ex-wife of Mr. Kupersmith.

“Martha’s Vineyard is obviously on the way up,” Mr. Patten said about the appeal of the real estate market. “It is on the rebound.”

The appeal of this property, he said, is that it is subdivided and ready to go.

The subdivision was the key to deal between Mr. Kupersmith, Land Bank and the MVC.
The subdivision was the key to a deal with Mr. Kupersmith, the Land Bank and the MVC.

Speaking generally about the national building economy, Mr. Patten said, “I see things picking up everywhere we do business; all around the country there seems to be a building boom going on. In the starter homes, lower-priced stuff, there’s a shortage, but the second-home market just really in the past year has taken off again, and is heading up.”

According to tax records, Farlap Development Corp. owes the town of Oak Bluffs $395,074 in back taxes. Mr. Patten said back taxes will have to be paid after foreclosure by the winning bidder at auction.


Golf war history

Whatever the future holds, it will be the final chapter in the saga of the effort to build a new golf course in Oak Bluffs that began when the 88-acre Webb’s Camping Area, part of approximately 400 acres of land now referred to as the Southern Woodlands, went on the market.

The camping area had been for sale for years. An offer by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank was refused, and in 1998 a golf course development company announced that it had an option to purchase the property.

Webb’s abutted property the course developers needed for their project. The town of Oak Bluffs was one of dozens of landowners of private landlocked parcels, many with unclear titles.

The company went to work clearing titles and acquiring more parcels. When their efforts stalled, Mr. Kupersmith, a wealthy golf enthusiast and pharmacy entrepreneur from Greenwich, Conn., took over until he owned some 280 acres.

Mr. Kupersmith approached the town and MVC officials with a plan to develop an 18-hole golf course, and offered a benefit package he thought would be eagerly embraced. At one point the development included public walking trails, payments in lieu of taxes, an offer to lease a portion of the former Webb’s Camping Area to the town at no cost for camping, and a permanent conservation restriction over the entire property.

At the same time, two groups of rival developers were engaged in their own efforts to build golf clubs. The backers of the Meeting House Golf Club adjacent to Edgartown Pond ultimately gave up following MVC rejection of their plan, and joined with backers of the Vineyard Golf Club, built on the site of a failed 148-house subdivision off Edgartown–West Tisbury Road.


Land Bank held the key

In March 2005, capping years of fierce controversy over Mr. Kupersmith’s various development proposals, which included MVC rejection of three successive applications, and numerous lawsuits filed against the commission, the Land Bank, Mr. Kupersmith, and the MVC concluded a deal under which Mr. Kupersmith agreed to sell 190 acres of the Southern Woodlands to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank for $18.6 million, contingent on MVC approval of his subdivision.

The luxury housing development was intended to bridge the financial gap between what the Land Bank was willing to pay — that is, approximately $100,000 per acre — and Mr. Kupersmith’s asking price of $26 million.

The agreement included a provision under which the Land Bank would swap a 24-acre rectangular town-owned lot, known as the “doughnut hole” because it was landlocked, for “more convenient acreage located elsewhere in the Southern Woodlands, contingent on town meeting approval.”

Despite a 2004 written agreement, the land swap has yet to happen. The potential sale of the Kupersmith development does not involve any parcels in the land swap agreement.


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Siblings from the Kingsbury clan have locked horns in a lawsuit over the State Road pig and poultry farm.

Jefferson Munroe of the Good Farm and cat Rhea stands in front of one of the farm buildings. – Photo by Michael Cummo

A long-simmering conflict between a brother and sister came to a head on April 27, when William Kingsbury filed a lawsuit against his sister, Kristen Kingsbury Henshaw, aimed at shutting down a farm operated by her tenant, Jefferson Munroe.

The legal filings state that “The Good Farm”, a poultry and pig farm run by Mr. Munroe, is causing Mr. Kingsbury “irreparable harm” by befouling the atmosphere at 1128 State Road, where he and his wife, Laura Ann Freeman, own a house and the adjoining lot.

Mr. Kingsbury’s attorneys, Daniel Perry and Neil Smola from the New Bedford firm Perry, Hicks, Deshaies and Mello, filed the complaint in Dukes County Superior Court. In a separate motion, the attorneys requested the court issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent Mr. Munroe from bringing any additional animals or fowl onto the property while the case is heard.

The request for a preliminary injunction was heard on May 6 in New Bedford Superior Court, which hears cases when Dukes County Superior Court is not in session, with Judge Raffi Yessayan presiding. A decision is pending.


Farm to gavel

The abutting siblings have butted heads before. In a May 4 affidavit, Ms. Henshaw said that Mr. Kingsbury had initiated “baseless litigation” against her in 2009 over a dirt road that wends over both properties. Ms. Henshaw said she agreed to a nonexclusive easement over the disputed property, primarily to save legal fees.

The seeds of the current kerfuffle were planted when Ms. Henshaw subsequently leased her property to Mr. Munroe, proprietor of The Good Farm, in 2012.

Mr. Kingsbury and Ms. Henshaw are the children of the late Craig and Gertrude Kingsbury. The “Hoo-rah for Bill” sign their father made for President Clinton’s first visit to the Island still marks the entrance at 1056 State Road, where the elder Kingsbury’s operated a farm for decades. They deeded son William a 9.75 acre parcel of the land in 1989. Shortly before his death in 2002, Mr. Kingsbury conveyed the remaining 10 acres to his daughter, Ms. Henshaw.

Jefferson Munroe herds turkeys into a pen with fresh grass. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Jefferson Munroe herds turkeys into a pen with fresh grass. – Photo by Michael Cummo


Mr. Kingsbury said that he had coexisted peacefully with previous farmers on Ms. Henshaw’s land because they were subsistence farmers. In the April 27 complaint, he described The Good Farm as “a large-volume poultry operation that slaughters approximately 2,300 chickens and other fowl each year,” and additionally maintains a pig population of 12-14 mature hogs, plus a larger number of piglets. “The scale of [the] operation is far too large, even if it were well run, to confine its adverse effects to the small parcel of land on which they are conducted,” he said in the complaint. “Henshaw and Munroe’s operation has continuously been poorly managed. Compost bins of raw poultry remains, placed near the common property line, created “a powerful and nauseating stench.”

The motion also asserts that The Good Farm creates “windblown trash”; that it’s a vector for rats, crows, and skunks; and, in a familiar refrain, that people frequently trespass on a road that crosses Mr. Kingsbury’s property.


Defendants respond

In an email to The Times on Tuesday, Stephen Schultz, a Boston-based attorney with the firm Engel & Schultz, representing Ms. Henshaw and Mr. Munroe, wrote, “There are many allegations in the complaint which are not correct, including the allegation that the farm has been operating since 2010, the farm creates a noxious odor, the prevailing winds blow from the farm onto the plaintiff’s property, the pigs are allowed to roam free on the farm, the compost bins were immediately adjacent to the property line, and the dirt road is on the plaintiff’s property rather than being on the defendant’s property.”

On May 6, Mr. Schultz filed a motion in Dukes County Superior Court to deny the case. He contended that the plaintiff’s attorneys were attempting to make The Good Farm sound as noxious as possible, and that they “mischaracterize the farm as a piggery and poultry-slaughtering facility.”

In an email to The Times, Mr. Schultz said, “It should be noted that it is not clear that the Good Farm is a ‘piggery,’ as it only has one pen with 15-30 pigs, and it is not a ‘poultry slaughtering facility,’ it is a poultry farm, whose poultry is slaughtered by the same poultry mobile facility which slaughters the poultry at all of the four chicken farms on the island.”

In his May 6 filing, Mr. Schultz also wrote, “No matter how plaintiffs try to couch their complaint, they are claiming no more than that pigs and compost bins smell, and are asking this Court to enjoin The Good Farm from operating as a farm.”

To address the odor issue, Mr. Schultz supplemented his filing to dismiss with sworn affidavits from 29 Islanders who stood near the property line while the compost bin was being “turned over,” and said they smelled no noxious odors. The group included abutter Helen Koch, newly elected Tisbury Selectman Larry Gomez, and Daniel Barrick, owner of the Scottish Bakehouse, which sits almost directly across the street from the Good Farm. Ms. Barrick and several other respondents also attested to Mr. Munroe’s humane farming practices.

Correspondence between Mr. Munroe and Tisbury assistant health inspector Maura Valley was also submitted. It shows that Ms. Valley responded to a complaint from Mr. Kingsbury’s wife, Ms. Freeman, originally written to board of health Chairman Michael Loberg.

Ms. Freeman said her 23 years of experience as a CEO of a successful “alternative meat” company informed her opinion — and her opinion was that The Good Farm was “sloppy, unsanitary, and potentially dangerous.” She cited poor composting, decomposing chicken parts strewn about, some of which was being used for rodent traps, and excessive amounts of litter.

There were no infractions in Ms. Valley’s subsequent inspection of The Good Farm. Ms. Valley suggested Mr. Munroe move his compost to a different location, which he did. Ms. Valley also requested the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Food Protection Program (FPP) inspect The Good Farm. “Everything to date that has been looked at by the Department of Public Health and the [Department of Agricultural Resources] has been approved,” Mr. Schultz said in a phone call with The Times on Tuesday.

Mr. Munroe declined to comment to The Times due to the ongoing litigation.


Accusations fly

In his complaint, Mr. Kingsbury also accused Ms. Henshaw of attempting to devalue his land, so she could ”potentially profit” if he is forced to sell. He stated his property was worth $1.2 million in 2003, and that it would be worth “only a fraction of that,” should The Good Farm stay in operation.

“I have absolutely no interest in buying Bill’s property, and have never stated or wished to do so,” Ms. Henshaw said in a May 4 affidavit. “On the other hand, I have been contacted directly or indirectly three times, either by Bill’s attorney or a business associate.”

Ms. Henshaw said she’s been asked to sell her property, or to work with Mr. Kingsbury and his business associate to help them to obtain a distillery license for the property so that Moon Cusser, a brand of white whisky that is currently produced by a company owned by Mr. Kingsbury and Ms. Freeman in Ms. Freeman’s native Kentucky, could be produced on Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr. Schultz wrote that there is no evidence of duplicity on Ms. Henshaw’s part; however, “there is evidence that Ms. Freeman has been running a one-woman campaign to drive Mr. Munroe out of business with false allegations to government agencies, local supermarkets and the local newspaper, so that she and her husband can force a sale of Ms. Henshaw’s property in order to enable Plaintiffs to purchase defendant’s’ property, which they apparently desire in order to operate a distillery.”

In her affidavit Ms. Henshaw also submitted a letter written by her father to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) in 1990, when he unsuccessfully petitioned the MVC to deny construction of the Vineyard Assembly of God church next to his property. “The idea of a farm is much more romantic than the reality of one,” he wrote. “Cleaning a barn is an odiferous process. We often use rotted fish for fertilizer … it would be very unfair to us if our neighbors were to complain about our pigs and for us to move them.”

“I wish to keep my property a farm in perpetuity,” Ms. Henshaw said in her affidavit. “From my dealings with co-defendant Jefferson Munroe, I concluded that Mr. Munroe is an excellent, conscientious farmer, and humane individual, and that my parents, were they still alive, would be proud to know he was farming their land.”


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Islanders will pay tribute to those who gave their lives in service to their country through school programs, a parade, and ceremony.

In this 2013 Times file photo, veteran Edson Rodgers plays the trumpet on Memorial Day. – File photo by Ralph Stewart

Martha’s Vineyard will honor Memorial Day with traditional ceremonies of remembrance. The events begin Friday in Island schools. On Monday, Memorial Day, Island veterans’ groups will hold an official ceremony at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Tisbury.

Tisbury School students will leave the school grounds for their traditional March to the Sea at 12:30 pm on Friday, May 22. They will march along Spring Street to Main Street and end at Owen Park. The community is invited to join them.

The students will toss flowers into the water from the dock in memory of those who died in war, and then gather around the flagpole at the top of Owen Park for a short ceremony. If it rains, the event will be held in the Tisbury School gymnasium.

In a similar observance, Edgartown School students will leave their school at 1 pm on Friday and march down Main Street. They will stop to lay flowers at the courthouse monuments, and then continue to Memorial Wharf for a program that includes patriotic music and readings. The public is invited to attend.

The guest speaker is Lt. Col. Fred “Ted” Morgan U.S.A. (Ret.), a World War II veteran and former Edgartown selectman for almost 30 years. At the program’s conclusion, seventh graders will toss flowers into Edgartown Harbor to honor veterans and those who died in wartime service.

The Chilmark School staff and students will take a bus at 9 am Friday to Dutcher Dock in Menemsha, where they will share information they know or have researched this week about Memorial Day. Afterward, student trumpeters Jack Lionette and Gordon Prescott will play “Taps” as their fellow students toss flowers into the harbor in memory of veterans.

Friday at 8:30 am, fifth-grade trumpeters and drummers will play “Taps” and “America,” marking the Oak Bluffs School’s Memorial Day community meeting. The event will be attended by Dukes County Director of Veterans Services Jo Ann Murphy and a group of Island veterans. The meeting program will include presentations about Memorial Day by second graders, a tribute to Meverell “Mev” Locke Good Jr., one of the Island’s World War II veterans who died this year, and remarks by guest speaker Lt. Col. David Berube, the Oak Bluffs Police Department’s chaplain and a chaplain with the Massachusetts National Guard.

West Tisbury School will present a Memorial Day concert on Friday at 1:30 pm in the school gym. The concert will include full class performances, solos, duets, and a singalong. The band will play numerous pieces, including “The Marine Hymn” and “America,” under the direction of Ruth Scudere-Chapman. The concert will conclude with antiphonal rendering of “Taps” by two middle-school trumpet players, Meredith Carlomagno and Kieran Karabees. Parents, community members, veterans, active-duty military personnel and first responders are invited to attend.

Tisbury hosts parade, ceremony, and picnic

On Monday, Memorial Day, American Legion members will put up flags at the Oak Grove Cemetery starting at 7:30 am and take them down at 3 pm. Volunteers to help put up and take down the flags would be greatly appreciated, Ms. Murphy said.

At 10 am, members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars step off for a parade from American Legion Post 257, opposite Tisbury School, to the cemetery.

A brief ceremony follows at the Avenue of Flags, where wreaths will be placed to honor those killed in war and the terrorist bombings of Sept. 11, 2001. The guest speaker is Navy Reserve Commander Paul J. Brawley of the Navy Office of Community Outreach. His unit serves as the central point for coordinating outreach programs throughout the continental U.S., involving Navy assets such as ships, the Blue Angels, Navy SEALs, and Navy bands.

Also on Monday, Tisbury hosts a Memorial Day picnic open to everyone from noon to 4 pm on the grounds of the restored Tashmoo Spring Building, on West Spring Street off State Road. There is no rain date.

Those who attend are asked to bring a picnic lunch and lawn chairs or a blanket, and leave their dogs at home. Picnickers who bring hot dogs and hamburgers may have them cooked on a gas grill by a crew of volunteer cooks.

Entertainment includes live music provided by the Flying Elbows, supported by the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council, as well as outdoor games, pony rides, chalk art, rowboat rides, and tours of the Spring Building.

Picnicgoers are encouraged to take the bus, because parking is limited. Vineyard Transit Authority buses that travel from Vineyard Haven up the State Road route past West Spring Street will provide free transportation for picnicgoers to the Tashmoo overlook.

Moment of Remembrance

At 3 pm Monday, Americans nationwide have been asked to pause in silence for the National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to their country.


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Manning the Oak Bluffs visitors' booth with some cute older dudes.

Go check out the Campground cottages, she tells a visitor. – Photo by Michael Cummo

“Is the Menemsha sunset open yet?”

Yes, I was there, I can attest to it: This question was posed the other day by a young woman in a pink tee shirt.

Inside the information booth, 82-year-old Mike Aquille retained his look of dignified calm. “Menemsha is where it’s always been. The sunset takes place every evening on schedule.” I could see him pondering how to break it to the girl that this stuff happens naturally.

She nodded. “I was wondering if any, like, cafes are open?”

Something about being on holiday turns some people — perhaps geniuses on their home turf — into deer caught in the headlights. The questions they ask make us ponder, “Are we that hopeless ourselves on vacation?”

It doesn’t seem possible. Maybe there’s something about the boat ride over that disrupts their brain circuitry?

I had an encounter last March that made me think the coming summer would be a lollapalooza of trippy travelers. It was late afternoon, frigid — as many of you may recall — in the Campground, where I strolled with my dog. The joint was in winter lockdown, chock-a-block with empty gingerbread cottages everywhere you could shake a (filigreed) stick: a ghost town, as if on a long-ago visit, Queen Victoria sent everyone home to Chipping Campden.

A Japanese family of four tottered from the eastern edge of Trinity Park. They looked shaken.

The dad asked me in precise English, “What happened to this place? Why has everybody fled?”

I realized they thought this vacant village was a 19th-century Pompeii, lovingly preserved. What had driven folks from their welcoming porches? Drought? Locusts? Bubonic plague?

I assured them that by the time June rolled around, these cottages rocked with families, each with their complement of 89 guests.

They looked at me with relief, and then I recommended Slice of Life for lunch.

I enjoy sending visitors on their merry way. What would it be like, I wondered, to come to the aid of addled wayfarers for longer stretches of time? Would it bring out the milk of loving kindness? Or would it turn me into an old grump in the Mammy Yokum style?

Holly manned the information booth on the first day it was open. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Holly manned the information booth on the first day it was open. – Photo by Michael Cummo

To find out, I signed myself up for a stint inside the Oak Bluffs Visitors’ Booth at the base of Circuit Avenue, surrounded by all that cool stuff: Gio’s, the Flying Horses, the town thataway, harbor thisaway, seawall, and buses: Watch my arms directing you forward like a traffic cop’s.

Last Friday at 11 am sharp, I joined John Newsome for his shift. John, 74, said the kookiest question he’d ever fielded came from a lady who asked, “How do you get a cab to Quonset Point?” He gently explained that this particular destination lay far across the Sound. There was a boat. It just didn’t happen to be running that day.

People wash up here who don’t even know where they are. “How do I get to Martha’s Vineyard?” is a zinger that comes round from time to time. How deep of a coma were they in — or how stoned — when they traveled over?

This reminds me, when I first visited the Vineyard with Marty Nadler in April 1976, we sat huddled in a booth at the old bowling alley in Vineyard Haven (yep, there was one!), and an old-timer told us that, back in the ’60s, a couple of thugs from Boston hitched a ride down to the Cape, robbed a liquor store, skedaddled over to the beach, stole a motorboat and, while they thought they were zipping along the shore, crash-landed on Martha’s Vineyard. The felonious bozos hot-wired an old Ford and drove it around and around until finally they were arrested. The crooks said, “If only we coulda found I-95, we’d’a been outa here!”

Back to the Visitors Booth, John told me the most common questions:

Where are the bathrooms?

What’s a good lunch place?

What should we do?

For restaurant tips, he plays each one by ear. “If they’re seniors from Ohio, I send them up to Linda Jean’s.” For a water view and a $24 lobster roll, he steers them to the Lookout, instructing them, ‘If your waitress is Linda, tell her Tiny sent you!’”

He tries to discourage people from renting mopeds. “I tell them they’re dangerous, and I also say, ‘People won’t like you.’”

He recalls a tourist who once asked, “Where’s the expressway to Nantucket?”

In earlier times, people wanted to know where the Kennedys convened. Nowadays that’s a moot question.

All the guys I hung out with at the booth, including John, Mike, and the 88-year-old manager, Bob Falkenburg, have been asked the inexplicable question, “How far is the water to the beach?” There was also the iconic, “Where’s Oopizland?, a misreading, of course, of up-Island.

All three guys agreed that some people come to our town without any sense of history. When they’re told about the Campground and its fairyland of Victorian cottages, they look perplexed. I shared with them my theory: A fair amount of Americans live in suburban subdivisions surrounded by strip malls, each with four or five franchises. A town like ours of century-and-a-half-year-old houses is inconceivable to them. They know the architecture looks, well, peculiar. They might reckon the façades are shipped in from Disney World, then banged up to look a little older.

But tourists’ questionable grasp of history aside, I loved working at the booth. I even asked Bob to plug me in whenever he needed a substitute. The travelers they assist are so inexpressibly dear, of all ages, from all nations, as they flock from the ferry to the window with a look of pure hope and joy on their faces. What should we do? Where should we go?

We try to break it to them gently that they’ve wandered into one of the most magical seaside resorts in the world. Well, I do. I’m a drama queen, so they get the whole spiel. John, Bob, and Mike are more low-key, but they send everyone to the Campground first for the Full Smackerola: “Just head up the street, and take a right at Sharky’s.”

You know what else was really cool? I LOVED hanging out with these guys! We gals say dudes are duds in the feelings department, but Mike had a moment of misty-eyed reflection as he spoke about his wife Karen shepherding him through a recent illness. Bob grew teary when he recalled a Menemsha sunset from a couple of years back (yes, it was open!): The sun descended on a rose-colored sea, and a guy on a cruise ship spoke through a megaphone: “All right, everybody, let’s give God a hand!”

The rest of the time in the booth, we swapped tall tales, laughed, got yelled at by buddies cruising past on Lake Street, or right behind us in that little cut-through. But most of the time, we helped people on their way. We made them happy. They made us happy.

Nice work if you can get it.


Rosie the dog. – Courtesy Tricia Ford

Dear Dogfather:

I have a rescue dog that we have had for two years. We adopted her last April, when she was a little over 1 year old. She had been bred once at a young age, and then did not want anything to do with being bred again, so she was given up. She is part bichon, part shih tzu, and possibly part Jack Russell. Our home has three adults, myself, my boyfriend, and a roommate. For some reason, Rosie continually barks at the roommate. He is a dog lover, and my other dog gets along with him fine. Rosie will nip at his heels, and will bark when he moves around the house at all. But she will also allow him to pat her, and will sometimes sit on his lap. But as far as his coming and going, or moving around the house, she is right at his heels. We have tried spraying water in her face, as recommended, and also removing her from the room. Nothing seems to work. Help!

Thank you,

Tricia Ford


Dear Tricia,

The behavior of Rosie that you’re describing is uncommon, but certainly not unheard of. I’ve seen it quite a few times when a boyfriend or girlfriend moves in, and to the chagrin of the dog, the pack of two becomes a pack of three. Rover may have been fine with sharing his two-legged significant other (TLSO) when the boyfriend came over for short-stay visits. But for Rover to have to share his TLSO, and space, and time, on a permanent basis: unacceptable. Spraying water in Rosie’s face may have exacerbated the problem, if she came to expect water turmoil in association with the roommate. You said the roommate is a dog lover, so if he’s amenable, try having him feed Rosie her meals. Put a harness on Rosie and let her drag a leash around in the home, and have her hang out in the roommate’s quarters as much as possible. Then, when he’s going to move about the house, have him pick up the leash and take Rosie with him, while offering her treats as they’re moving about. Having Rosie spend some nights sleeping in the same room with the roommate may do wonders for her attitude. When all four of you are hanging out, have “Roomy” call Rosie to come from time to time, and when she arrives she gets a treat. (All these treats are the size of crumbs.) If Roomy wants to move to another room, he calls Rosie over, picks up the trailing leash and then does his roving about. These types of things will go a long way to helping Rosie see the household as a pack of four, instead of three with an interloper. Plus, Rosie does need to be taught the “leave it” command — it being whatever you want her to leave, be it a squirrel, cat, pizza crust on the ground, or roommate. That would best be done by a pro.

Good luck,

The Dogfather

Smiles at one of life’s nicer milestones.

Last year, when then-junior Matt Stone asked then-sophomore Iris Albert to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School junior prom, he posed a giant pink teddy bear wearing a sign around its neck. “Prom?” it said.

Iris said yes.

Now that Iris and Matt have been dating for a year and a half, this year was a given. Iris, 17, is the daughter of Eric and Rhonda Albert, owners of the Oak Bluffs Inn, plays field hockey at the high school, and serves on the school advisory committee. Matt, 18, is a captain of the MVRHS soccer and basketball teams; he’s a senior, and the son of Jeff and Peggy Stone of West Tisbury.

Photographer Siobhan Beasley followed Iris over two days while she got ready for the May 16 prom. Preparations kicked off with mani-pedis at Edgartown’s Pure Touch Salon on Friday, and moved on to Panache Salon in West Tisbury on Saturday for hair and makeup. The couple then met in Chilmark near the Allen Farm for photos, then were off to the prom.