In Business

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The Cape Light Compact (CLC) will hold a public information session on a proposed three-year statewide energy efficiency plan from 5 to 6:30 pm on October 11 at the Oak Bluffs Library.

The session will include a presentation about the plan followed by an informal question-and-answer session. CLC representatives, including board members and staff, will be available for discussion with attendees.

CLC is preparing to file its second comprehensive plan on October 31 with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities as required by legislation relative to the Green Communities Act.

The statewide 2013-2015 Energy Efficiency Plan aims to continue current energy savings programs across Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, according to a CLC press release. As part of the statewide effort, CLC will introduce new innovative residential, business and municipal programs, and financial incentives, the release said.

CLC is a public regional energy services organization authorized by the 21 towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard and Barnstable and Dukes counties to negotiate for low-cost electricity and choose the electric supplier for their residents and businesses.

The CLC encourages public comments on the plan and will provide a survey at the information session. All comments must be submitted in writing by 5 pm on Monday, October 22, by mail to Maggie Downey, Cape Light Compact, P.O. Box 427, Superior Courthouse, Barnstable, MA 02630 or by email to mdowney@barnstablecounty.org.

A copy of the statewide 2013-2015 Energy Efficiency Plan is available on the CLC website, capelightcompact.org/eep. The plan and other related documents will also be available at the information session.

For more information, call CLC at 1-800-797-6699.

Home sales in June were up more than 18 percent over June 2011, giving Massachusetts a full year of month-over-month increases in sales, the State House News service reported.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported last week that the median sale price for single-family homes last month was flat, compared with June 2011. “While the housing market isn’t fully recovered at this point; 12 straight months of year-over-year increases is significant and certainly positive news,” association president Trisha McCarthy, broker at Keller Williams Realty in Newburyport, said in a statement. “Prices continue to bump along the bottom and could start to rise, especially if buyers remain active and fewer sellers enter the market.”

The median selling price for single-family homes in June was $325,000, the same as in June 2011. The inventory of single-family homes on the market has decreased more than 17 percent since June 2011.

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Chris Laursen (left) and Sam Griswold, founders of thebookscore.net. — Photo courtesy of Bookscore

Is the book dead? Conflicting reports over the last few years give us cause to wonder. The book publishing business is at the very least undergoing profound changes, but there is still a hardcore group of book lovers, whether they read books printed on paper or on their computers or hand-held devices.

Sam Griswold, 27, and his good friend Chris Laursen, who just turned 30, count themselves among these book-lovers. They are Island-grown friends who share an apartment in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section of New York. Mr. Griswold’s family home is in West Tisbury, Mr. Laursen’s in Tisbury.

Deciding to share their love of books, they created a website called thebookscore.net that went live three weeks ago. It is for book lovers or anyone who would like a centralized place to find out more about books.

“A big reason we are making the site is because although a lot of people say that print is dying and nobody reads anymore, there is still a lot of great writing out there,” Mr. Griswold said. “Hopefully this can draw attention to some of it.”

The nascent site is a review aggregator. Bookscore collects links to published book reviews. Visitors to the site are encouraged to request new books to be included in the listings. If at least five reviews of a book are found online, Bookscore will read and rate the reviews using their own scoring system of 1 to 10. The average score of the ratings is then assigned to the book. Links to the online reviews are provided if Bookscore visitors want to read and compare reviews.

The site encourages input from viewers and they intend to increase their content to include as wide a range of books as possible. The books currently listed are primarily new books because it can be hard to locate five reviews of older books, Mr. Griswold said.

Bookscore has a blog section that is a forum for discussing reviews and scores, and there is a news section about the book industry and upcoming publications. One posting alerts readers to a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald that was originally rejected by the New Yorker magazine in 1936 that they finally published in July. They plan to include interviews with authors, preview early reviews of books that have just hit the market, and provide links to articles and other writing online.

“I had the idea a couple of years ago,” Mr. Griswold said. “There were sites I liked that rated music, movies and video games but I thought the ones on books were hard to navigate and were frustrating. I thought it would be a cool idea to have an easy-to-use book site.”

Mr. Griswold has a paying job working as a proofreader for a company that translates documents. He graduated from Wesleyan University, where he played soccer, with a degree in Italian studies. He has translated his love of sports into a part-time job as the host of an online sports show. www.breakthruradio.com/#/searchresults/?s=sports

Mr. Laursen earned his bachelors degree from UMass Lowell in graphic design. He is a freelance web designer who is also working on video and photography projects including a documentary on surfing. He has done much of the design work on the website. The website programing was done by Rick Mello of Oak Bluffs, the webmaster for the MV Times.

The next thing they plan to work on is a way to pay for the site. “I hope the site will pay for itself by the time we have 500 books up,” said Mr. Griswold. “We are hoping that people who come to the site will help build it by requesting books for us to list. We think this is the best way to build the site.” He said he thinks it might be time to put a business plan together.

Their goals are not modest. They state on their site that they want to provide the reader “with as much information as possible on any given book as well as helping uncover new books and authors while keeping the reader connected and up to date on all the goings on in the literary universe.”

Contact Bookscore at info@thebookscore.net, or visit their website at thebookscore.net

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Where’s Waldo? In Vineyard Haven, of course. He’s turning twenty-five this year, and to celebrate, the famous fellow in the striped shirt and black-rimmed specs will be visiting many local businesses in Vineyard Haven all through the month of July.

Those who spot him can win prizes, including buttons, books, and more. Waldo figures will be showing up at: Alley Cat, The Beach House, Bespoke Abode, Blissed Out, Brickman’s, Bryn Walker, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, CB Stark, Citrine, Educomp, The Green Room, Juliska, Mix, Mocha Motts, Off Main, Shirt Tales, and more.

Those who wish to participate can pick up a “Find Waldo in Vineyard Haven!” search list at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore (BGB) with the names of all the participating businesses. You will then receive an “I Found Waldo” card for each Waldo you spot. The first 100 players who collect 8 cards at participating businesses and turn them in at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore will win a Waldo button.

Those who collect cards at 16 or more participating businesses and turn them in at BGB will win a Waldo button and be entered to win other, larger prizes which will be drawn at a Waldo party on July 31 at BGB. The Grand Prize is a complete six-volume set of Waldo books.

Waldo is the creation of Martin Handford, whose entertaining drawings of crowd scenes swept the world in 1987.

There is no charge to participate, and the game lasts for the entire month of July. For more information call Bunch of Grapes Bookstore at 508-693-2291.

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The popular Woods Hole bakery and Island ferry-goer pit stop, Pie in the Sky, is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank in Dukes County Superior Court in Edgartown.

Pie in the Sky is located next to a branch of the bank. The two businesses share a narrow alley.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent Pie in the Sky customers from parking in the bank’s parking lot on Railroad Avenue, allow the bank to use the alley to replace its windows and reshingle the building, and requests the bakery remove trash receptacles, and stop conducting business on bank property. Currently, Pie in the Sky receives and ships deliveries from its back door on Railroad Avenue, in the bank parking lot.

The suit also seeks payment for monetary damages and attorney’s fees.

The dispute between the bank and the bakery began in the fall when the bank wanted to reshingle their building and replace windows in the alley between the businesses.

Pie in the Sky owner Eric T. Gura asked that the work wait until October, when he will also be renovating. “I said, I’m hopefully going to renovate in October, why don’t you wait and we can do the renovations together?” said Mr. Gura in a phone conversation with the Times Friday.

He added that during previous renovations by the bank several months ago caused debris to fall onto bakery customers.

In a telephone call Monday, Bank executive vice president and chief operating officer Richard J. Leonard said that through an injunction, a judge allowed the bank to complete the renovations.

The second part of the lawsuit, use of the parking lot, is still outstanding.

“We have renewed discussions and hope to resolve this as soon as possible,” he said.

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Dreamland on Oak Bluffs Avenue, circa 1910. Note the trolley on the right and the Civil War Monument that is now south of the Oak Bluffs police department. — Photo courtesy of Dreamland MV

The owners of Oak Bluffs’ historic Dreamland building have achieved their plan to resurrect its storied past. The 5,300-square-foot Dreamland ballroom is scheduled to open with a 112th birthday party on Friday, July 13.

The ballroom is located on the second floor, above The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company on Oak Bluffs Avenue across from the Flying Horses Carousel. JB Blau and Alex Nagi, co-owners of the MV Chowder Company will manage the space for owners Mark and Michael Wallace.

Mr. Blau said the space, one of the Island’s largest private venues, can accommodate up to 500 people and will be available year round for community and private functions that include music events, art shows, weddings, and theater.

Mr. Blau said Island musician and Dreamland entertainment director and talent buyer Phil daRosa has hired four bands, DCLA (Dukes County Love Affair), 2nd Power, Island Thunder, and The Grateful Dread for the birthday bash.

Many dreams

Built at the turn of the last century, the building has gone through many incarnations. It was once a dance hall, an automobile repair garage, a roller rink, a movie theater, a pool hall, a motorcycle rental and home to the restaurants, Balance, the Ocean Club, and Danny Quinn’s.

The large, second floor space was last used by Ryan Family Amusements, a Cape-based company, as the Dreamland Game Room. The game room closed in 2005 and moved next to the Atlantic Connection Restaurant on Circuit Avenue in 2006, taking over the space that was once the Atlantic Connection Nightclub.

The Ryans sold the Dreamland building to Mark and Michael Wallace in 2008. Oak Bluffs selectman approved the Wallaces’ plan to convert the space into a ballroom in 2009. It took almost three years to meet the demands of the town and neighboring businesses, and the conditions set by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which included soundproofing, before they could open with live music, Mr. Blau said.

In a press release, the owners touted the changes. “We’re proud of the newly renovated space with all modern elements of sound, comfort, and amenities, while at the same time giving homage and gratitude to its rich past of elegance and splendor,” they wrote.

The front windows provide sweeping views of Oak Bluffs. The interior space includes modular bars and lounges to encourage an intimate feel. Mr. Blau said he thinks the renovated space will bring more people to Oak Bluffs year round, a potential benefit for other Oak Bluffs businesses.

“We hope to fill the void left by the Atlantic Connection, Nectar’s and The Hot Tin Roof in the summer,” said Mr. Blau, who also owns Sharky’s Cantina. “There is a reason they are no longer around. We hope that by being primarily a venue for weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers and other community events during the off-season that we can make this work.”

A summer schedule of popular musical groups from off Island as well as local bands and performers is already taking shape. Weekly comedy shows will begin July 29. Entrain’s CD release show will be on July 20, Erich Luening & Friends will play on July 27.

Tuba Skinny, a band that takes its listeners back in time to the traditional jazz and old blues music of the 1920s and 30s and the local band King Cake and The Baby are scheduled to play August 25.

Mr. Blau said that Dreamland will be one of the venues used by the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz Festival in August. Jazz pianist Jason Moran and his group, The Bandwagon, is scheduled to play on August 6.

“I would like to bring in dinner theater at some point,” Mr. Blau said. “It is something that has never been tried here before. It is a great space for theater as well as for music and movies.”

For more information, go to dreamlandmv.com.

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The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management previously identified this area south of Martha's Vineyard as available for wind energy development. BOEM redefined the area last month. The amended area is shown in the following set of maps. — Photo courtesy of BOEM

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced last week that it is moving forward with the next step to consider commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore of Massachusetts.

BOEM said it has completed definition of a Wind Energy Area (WEA) with high wind potential for possible commercial leasing.

“The Wind Energy Area that we are announcing today is the result of extensive work with our partners in the Commonwealth and with a broad community of stakeholders as we move forward with responsible leasing and development of offshore wind resources,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau in a press release issued May 30. “The area off of Massachusetts has tremendous energy generation potential, and we will continue to evaluate and mitigate the potential impacts of offshore wind energy development on wildlife habitat, fisheries and sea bird migration.”

Governor Deval Patrick said last week that ten companies have expressed interest in the site.

BOEM said the WEA begins approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 13 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. From its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward to the 60-meter depth contour and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. The WEA is approximately 742,974 acres and contains 117 whole OCS lease blocks as well as 20 partial blocks.

On February 6, BOEM published a Call for Information and Nominations for Commercial Leasing in the OCS off Massachusetts and a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental assessment of this area. After considering numerous comments submitted in response to the Call, BOEM said, it decided to exclude certain areas identified as important habitats that could be adversely affected if ultimately developed with the installation of wind turbine generators.

“Specifically, BOEM has excluded an area of high sea duck concentration, as well as an area of high value fisheries to reduce conflict with commercial and recreational fishing activities. The fisheries exclusion area is a continuation of the Cox’s Ledge area excluded from leasing consideration in the Rhode Island/Massachusetts WEA announced on February 24, 2012. The excluded areas will not be considered further for leasing.”

BOEM said it now will evaluate the WEA in an environmental assessment (EA), which will consider, among other things, potential impacts on endangered North Atlantic right whales and effects on viewshed. The EA also will consider mitigation measures that might reduce potential impacts on these and other resources in the WEA.

“At this stage, BOEM is only considering the issuance of leases and approval of site assessment plans in this WEA. If, after leases are issued, a lessee proposes to construct a commercial wind energy facility, it would submit a construction and operations plan, at which point BOEM would prepare a site-specific NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] document for the project proposed, including the lessee’s proposed transmission line(s) to shore.”

BOEM manages the exploration and development of the nation’s offshore energy and mineral resources. According to BOEM, “The bureau seeks to balance economic development, energy production, and environmental protection through oil and gas leasing, renewable energy generation, and environmental reviews and studies.”

In February, the visual impact of a wind turbine farm in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard and its effects on marine life topped the list of concerns Islanders discussed with state and Federal energy officials at a public information meeting hosted by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.

BOEM officials also attended to give information and take public comment on a recent call for information and nominations for an area proposed for commercial wind energy development.

In comments from the audience, Bill Connolly of Edgartown complimented the officials for investigating the issues thoroughly and questioned why there was no mention of visual impact. He asked how tall the wind turbines would be and whether they would be visible from the Island’s shoreline.

BOEM said that more specifics about visual impact would be included in the construction operation plan stage, when developers offer more details about the wind turbines they plan to build, particularly their height.

Correction

The map that appeared in the print edition is the original area considered for development. The amended maps appear in the series of maps attached to the online version.

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— Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Mansion House on Main Street in Vineyard Haven is in the midst of renovations that include the addition of eight new rooms, and interior and exterior improvements.

A new garden designed by Chuck Wiley of VineyardGardens now brightens up the corner of Main Street and and Beach Street. With the help of Mary Rentschler of Rentschler & Company Interiors and Rebekah El-Deiry of Island Window Designs, the Inn lobby has been updated and now boasts a contemporary look.

“It made sense as we complete renovation on our eight new pet-friendly guest rooms to pretty up our public areas,” owner Susan Goldstein said. “It’s always fun to work with folks you have known a long time.”

Each one of the new rooms will feature a balcony, two double beds and will be pet friendly, according to a press release. Environmentally sound climate control was installed by Brian Nelson of Nelson Mechanical Design.

General manager (since 1985) Bud Raymond continues to oversee all the work that goes on to ensure that Mansion House welcomes Vineyarders and visitors alike, Ms. Goldstein said.

For more information go to mvmansionhouse.com.

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Kim O' Callaghan is the third generation owner of the family owned florist shop. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

On Palm Sunday, April 1, Morrice Florist on State Road began its 73rd year as a family-run Island business under third-generation owner Kim O’Callaghan.

Family lore has it that when her great-grandfather emigrated to Martha’s Vineyard in 1920 from Dundee, Scotland, he used the skills he brought with him as a gardener to make a living for his family on the Island.

Young James Morrice, founder of the present-day business, was a toddler then and followed in his father’s footsteps. In 1940, with a fresh degree from what is now the University of Massachusetts School of Agriculture in Stockbridge in 1939, James Morrice established Morrice Florist on State Road in Tisbury.

According to published histories of the period, the family business also had a retail store at 115 Main Street in Vineyard Haven from 1951 to 1958, beneath Le Grenier’s current location. Mr. Morrice was a co-founder and at one time president of the Chamber of Commerce.

Kim O’Callaghan, third generation of the Morrice family to operate the business, recently discussed the history of flora and her family’s part in it on the Island. “My grandfather was a great guy, a lot of fun,” she said. Her daughter Gillian, a prospective fourth-generation scion, now a freshman at The College of Wooster in Wooster Ohio, sat at her side, taking in the history of her great-grandfather’s work.

Ms. O’Callaghan joined the family business in 1986, working with her mother, Janet Morrice Novak, who purchased the business from her father in 1984.

Ms. Novak operated the business until her death in 2005. Ms. O’Callaghan has been the proprietor since then, and with 26 years in the family business she has a strong sense of its continuity and of the evolution of her business.

Today, Morrice’s operates both as a greenhouse and as a florist business, but Ms. O’Callaghan believes her grandfather’s early business success was as a nursery when the Island’s year-round population of less than 5,000 principally supported itself by farming and fishing. “I think it was more of a horticulture business than a florist business then,” she said.

“See that Kousa dogwood out front? It blooms in two different colors, pink and white. Very rare to have two colors. My grandfather planted it 50 years ago and people still come in today commenting on it. That’s what he knew. That was his heritage.”

While the nursery side continues as a mainstay, Morrice’s spacious flower shop on State Road is the most visible part of the business. The indoor greenhouse stocks over 40 different varieties of house plants from exotics to sturdy ficus, “a very easy-care plant,” Ms. O’Callaghan noted.

The outdoor greenhouse features award-winning flowering and green plants as well as fruit and vegetable plants and an array of seasoning plants, including basil, coriander, rosemary, and cilantro.

Remarkably warm early spring weather was working for the business in March, particularly on Tulip Tuesday, a weekly event that brings Island residents through the doors to pick up a generous clutch of fresh-cut tulips for $10.

With spring in the air, houses opening for the season and Easter around the corner, staffers Sue Peters, Laurie Meyst, and Linda Carroll are hopping. As a late-arriving Tulip Tuesday customer zoomed in just before 6 pm closing last week, staffer Ms. Carroll smiled. “Just in time,” she said. “We’ve been busy all day. People really love this.”

Tulip Tuesday reflects the increased demand for cut flowers that Ms. O’Callaghan has noticed in recent years. “There was a time when imported cut flowers were unusual, people took note of them,” she said. “But today customers expect cut flowers to be available, and they are,” she added, gesturing to the displays and refrigerators around her store.

Ms. O’Callaghan has been busy this winter lining up an additional source of Island-grown cut flowers to meet demand.

As Ms. O’Callaghan has settled in, she has added new ideas and promotions to her business. While wedding and funeral displays are the core of most floral businesses, the range of human events for which flowers are appropriate have grown exponentially, from balloon-festooned birthday to new baby and new job celebrations.

Morrice Florist has instituted a reward program for frequent purchasers. “We call it the Frequent Flower Buyer program. It works like this: drop-in customers who spend $20 or more on five occasions get 25 percent off their next purchase,” she said, noting that additional 25 percent discounts are earned each time the five-purchase level is achieved.

Ms. O’Callaghan also offers mini-courses on floral arrangements from time to time.

Morrice Florist is open Monday through Saturday. For more information call 508-693-0392 or go to morriceflorist.com.

The store will also be open on Easter Sunday between 10 am and 2 pm.

While a slumping real estate market has subtracted equity for homeowners across Massachusetts and led to substantially lower home prices in some areas, a study released February 24 asserts that stagnant incomes and rising rental housing costs have contributed to continuing affordability problems in Massachusetts.

The Center for Housing Policy study, released locally by Citizens Housing and Planning Association in Boston, found that while the share of working households with a severe housing cost burden increased significant between 2008 and 2010 in 24 states, there was not a significant increase in the percentage of such households in Massachusetts.

The annual study is based on Census data on housing costs and income. The study found 24 percent of households in Massachusetts that worked at least 20 hours per week paid more than half their income toward housing costs during 2010. That’s up from 22 percent in 2009 and the same percentage as in 2008.

The report defines working households as those that work at least 20 hours per week and with income of no more than 120 percent of the median income in their area. In 2010, about one third of all owner-occupied households nationally met the working household definition.

CHAPA officials said the study reflects the plight of Massachusetts housing owners with decent jobs who are struggling to pay their bills and on the employer side, the difficulty of attracting and retaining workers because of housing costs. Incomes at 120 percent of the area median income total $104,040 in Greater Boston, $88,680 in Greater Springfield and $90,600 in Worcester County, according to CHAPA.