— courtesy Arlan Wise

Island astrologer Arlan Wise shares her astrological forecasts with us each week on Mondays. This column is like a cosmic weather report. It is written for everyone based on the sign the moon is in that day and what the planets are doing. Don’t be confused by the signs. This is not like the usual Sun sign astrology columns you see. Go towww.arlanwise.com and click onHow To Read this Column for a full explanation. To arrange a personal reading, phone her at 1-(508)-645-9292.

September is Virgo’s month. It’s a time to plan and get organized. We have been programmed to entering a higher grade as we begin the new school year in September. It works to continue that feeling and use the month to upgrade our lives.

It will be a calm month, except for a disruption when Pluto turns into direct motion on the day of the Autumnal Equinox. You’ll hit some bumpy water at that time.

Mercury starts a retrograde period on October 4. He will be retrograde until October 25. Use the days in September to make the big changes, buy the big-ticket items, and start new jobs and projects. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, September 1 – Moon VC Scorpio, VC from 11:40 am until 1:17 pm when it enters Sagittarius. After some intense fretting over what didn’t go your way this summer, you’ll feel like getting outside and playing. You can work on your own projects in the morning and as the day goes on your spirits rise and you move into holiday mode. Take a walk in the dark tonight to see the stars and wonder about the universe.

Tuesday, September 2 – Moon in Sagittarius. You want to extend your holiday weekend and continue the party. It’s a good day to Skype, call, or email your friends who live in foreign countries. Make plans to take a trip to see some of them. Mercury enters Libra and he helps you negotiate compromises and balance your needs for work and play. He gives you soothing words to use when you want to get your way.

Wednesday, September 3 – Moon in Sagittarius, VC from 2:06 pm until 6:15 pm when it enters Capricorn. The Sun and Pluto dance in earth signs and show you where to place your feet so you can take the next step along your path. They squeeze you like a toothpaste tube and tell you what you need to leave behind. Think big when you look to the future.

Thursday, September 4 – Moon in Capricorn. You can work long hours with good concentration today. It’s a day when you will get a lot accomplished and do so in an orderly, efficient manner. Think about how you want to advance your career and make a schedule of what to do when. It’s a good day to look at real estate to lease or buy.

Friday, September 5 – Moon in Capricorn, VC from 11:08 am until 7:59 pm when it enters Aquarius. Start the day early and get the important work done before the moon goes void. After that it’s a good time to clean up your workspace and decide what to discard and what to put away. Venus enters Virgo and she loves to keep things orderly, organized, and useful.

Saturday, September 6 – Moon in Aquarius. This is the weekend to get involved in community projects. Volunteer where you can be of help. Shop for practical items that you need rather than want. Surf the Internet for interesting information and connect with friends on social media. Escape into your mind with science fiction books or movies.

Sunday, September 7 – Moon in Aquarius, VC from 1:19 pm until 7:47 pm when it enters Pisces. The calendar says today is Grandparents Day. Give yours something special, at least call them, or spend time with your grandchildren. It’s a good day for all kinds of therapy. The Sun and Chiron team up to offer you healing energy that you can use to help cure old wounds or help others with your insightful comments.

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A Movement Workshop for Island Schools.

Young dancers in a Yard program at West Tisbury Elementary. (Photo by Sofia Strempek) — Sofia Strempek

When some of the Island’s children return to school next month, they’ll find an additional “R” to the Three R’s – rhythm.

The 2013 camp Make Kids Dance was such a success that the Yard will be running dance programs in Island schools. (Photo by Sally Cohn)
The 2013 camp Make Kids Dance was such a success that the Yard will be running dance programs in Island schools. (Photo by Sally Cohn)

The Yard – Martha’s Vineyard’s premier proponent of dance – is introducing a program, “Making It,” into the curriculum of Island schools. Working with professional dance troupes from off-Island, kids will learn about movement and building choreography. Created by David White, The Yard’s Artistic and Executive Director, patterned after the Kids Make Dance Camp at The Yard, and administered by Jesse Keller (who teaches a similar workshop at the Y), it will be customized to fit the available time and needs of the participating schools.

While some may consider it frivolous to bring a movement workshop into the syllabi, the program is about much more than dance. Keller explains. “While (the students) definitely learn movement skills, this program is not meant to focus on teaching kids steps. It’s more about the kids’ creativity and how they can link movement to their everyday problem solving, life skills, literary skills, and things like that.”

She cites a week-long workshop they held at the high school in April. “We brought in David Parker and The Bang Group (from New York). They’re a tap and rhythm group but they also work a lot with props. We worked with the students on a piece that the (professional) group performed. They were in Velcro suits. Afterwards, we did our warm-up and split all the kids into teams. We gave them five pieces of different types of Velcro — suits that they could put on, Velcro-covered balls, things like that. The task was to, in a group, learn how to connect and disconnect these in three ways and in movement only.”

According to Keller, not only did the kids learn to work together creatively to accomplish the task and see the everyday objects in a different light, but kids who normally would not associate with each other laughed together and had fun. “They were working with kids that they probably wouldn’t be hanging out with at lunchtime,” Keller explains.

David White further elaborates, “We had kids who were on the autistic spectrum who had aides with them. In the case of those kids who were part of this process, the aides uniformly said that they had never seen their kids so immediately productive in that kind of situation – working in groups, socializing.”

“And the real beauty of it,” Keller adds, “was every single kid in the high school participated.”

Also, by bringing in pros like The Bang Group from New York, the Everett Company from Providence, Rhode Island, and H.T. Chen from Chinatown in New York, the programs expose students to artists who are making a living in their field – a boon to kids faced with career decisions.

After the April workshops (held at several Island schools), and the success of the summer camp, it wasn’t difficult to bring Island schools on board. The Yard already has Chilmark, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs Schools scheduled. “But,” says Keller, “we’re still having conversations with the (other) public schools, and the Charter School, figuring out what would work for them.” Some schools, like Edgartown, see it as fitting into their physical education curriculum, although it can be used to address particular subjects.

David White sees it as fitting into almost any area of the curriculum. He views movement as a potential science lab. “Dance is three things,” he explains, “Take one material thing, the body, take two immaterial things, space and time, and you mash them up. That’s a physics problem.” He also considers it a cultural lesson. “Chilmark School is looking to do an ancient China thing,” he relates, “And we’re bringing in H.T. Chen and his company from Chinatown.”

The program at Edgartown School will work with fifth and either seventh or eighth graders, one day a week, for one period, spread over ten week. Teachers will be consulted on a continuing basis throughout the program. “That’s where we’re gauging our success,” says Keller. “Being in very close contact with the teachers during the entire process.” They’ll be asked how it’s affecting their day, if they’re seeing changes in the students. If they’re seeing more focus. In addition, an in-depth questionnaire will be filled out by the teachers and principals at the end of the program.

During the April workshop, the physical education teacher asked the students to journal throughout the process and that helped shape the current program.

Ultimately, it’s fairly certain that every student will take away something from “Making It.” David White explains, “Movement and dance provides a different kind of creativity, a different kind of firing of neurons in the brain, that can stimulate all sorts of things in the intelligences and aptitudes of these kids in other areas.”

And it builds confidence. “It’s made so that every kid can succeed,” Keller says. “Every kid can do it.”

Although last winter was particularly severe both in its cold and snow cover, many Vineyarders complained early this summer that there were more ticks than ever. This is intriguing because the proliferation of these pests in earlier years was often ascribed to relatively mild winters. There may be other examples of such dubious assumptions, which have led to flawed proposals for controlling ticks.

The apparent contradiction of received wisdom about the arachnids reminded me of a campaign last year to reduce their number by slashing the Vineyard’s deer population (MV Times,  Aug. 29, 2013, “Sam Telford from Tufts talks tough on ticks”; Vineyard Gazette, Jan. 31, 2013). Although the main advocate for drastically reducing or extirpating deer, Sam Telford, has made a strong argument for re-approving the vaccine against the disease, which became yet another victim of our litigious culture when it was withdrawn from the market after lawsuits, my experience suggests that his direct linkage between the number of deer and cases of Lyme disease is weaker, and is based on a failure to compare different eco-systems.

Here’s the current doctrine: the main vector for Lyme disease is deer ticks — that much is certainly true — as Mr. Telford says, up to 94 percent of female ticks have fed on deer. This is where I become suspicious for a couple of reasons. First, because of the words “up to,” which indicate that there is a range. The second is because the specific numbers of both ticks and deer in such diverse environments as wetland forests and grasslands, and most importantly the ratio between them, is essential to understanding the true significance of any numbers, and the factors behind them. Ninety-four percent of 100 ticks per acre with two deer would be utterly different, to take an extreme example, in its impact on humans, than 94 percent of 10,000 ticks per acre with one deer.

My reasons for suspecting that Mr. Telford’s conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis are founded on decades of life outdoors on the Vineyard. Here’s what I’ve noticed. When my family and I walk along mown paths in oak forests between Menemsha and the Brickyard in June and July, we almost invariably pick up a few deer ticks, despite the fact that we can see for considerable distances under the trees, and deer are usually absent or sparse. But after 20 years and tens of thousands of hours of yard work and thrashing through brush in a sassafras, beech, maple and tupelo (Beetlebung) forest in Aquinnah during the same months, we have yet to pick up a single tick, although deer are visible all day long in an area with far more places to hide.

Mr. Telford might be tempted to respond that these observations are just the anecdotal experiences of one man and his family, but I’d suggest that the difference has been too great and consistent over decades to be easily dismissed. It would be wiser to find the reasons behind the observations than to dismiss them. Here’s my hypothesis.

The abundance of deer and near absence of ticks in Aquinnah’s lush wetland forest, and abundance of ticks despite a lower number of deer in Chilmark’s dry oak forest suggest that the differences go deeper than the relationship between deer and their parasites. In fact, it suggests that it has something to do with the types of forest. One of the chief differences between them is that oak forests produce more starch in the form of acorns that squirrels can hoard, leaving plenty for other rodents such as white-footed mice, which serve as the hosts for immature deer ticks. The mice are a crucial carrier of the ticks, which thrive, even when there aren’t many deer, if the rodents are plentiful.

The evidence from our forest in Aquinnah also suggests that the contrary is true — that the ticks nearly disappear when there are plenty of deer, but few mice. This difference has been so flagrant in my experience that I think the common term for Ixodes scapularis, “deer tick”, is a misnomer, which misdirects attention towards the wrong animal, just because it is a bigger and more obvious target. The ticks should probably be renamed the “white-footed mouse tick,” “oak tick,” or “acorn tick.”

This brings me to the question of good versus bad solutions. Mr. Telford “makes no bones that his primary short-term objective is to significantly reduce the deer population on the Island” by killing them. Perhaps he should watch a TED talk by Alan Savory in which Mr. Savory says that his greatest regret is that he told African governments to cull ten of thousands of elephants in order to manage their reserves, causing the extermination of 40,000 elephants, although his analysis turned out to be backwards.

There are two better ways to reduce the number of Ixodes scapularis on the Island than unleashing a shooting-fest, one of which is so well-known that I was surprised that Mr. Telford did not mention it. It involves the use of tickicide-treated rollers at passive feeding stations for white-tailed deer. According to Cornell University, study after study (Carroll et al 2002, Pound et al 2000, Pound et al 2000b, Solberg et al 2003) has shown large reductions in tick populations following the use of such devices.

Another entirely compatible solution would be to favor vegetation that does not produce surplus starch for mice. I imagine that this solution would be preferable to people who would rather see a few trees removed from their views, than the disappearance of deer, which provide the countryside with much of its charm.

If I were a hunter, and I am indirectly, in the sense that I have allowed specific hunters to hunt on my land, I would also be opposed to Mr. Telford’s plan, since it would result in the rapid reduction of the very deer hunters enjoy stalking. It might be fun at first, but would end up destroying a pastime that many people enjoy.

One thing I agree on with Mr. Telford is that the problem of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is huge and must be addressed. The question is simply, how? The answer is probably to attack the problem in several ways at once. One way is to continue encouraging sustainable hunting, since it plays a positive role in maintaining the Island’s ecological balance. Another way that should be implemented simultaneously is to install feeding stations or salt licks with tickicide-treated rollers in oak forests and other infested environments. A third one is to favor vegetation that does not encourage the proliferation of mice and their ticks. The fourth way, which Mr. Telford and I agree on whole-heartedly, is to push for the re-approval or improvement of the vaccine.

In the meantime, we should be wary of listening to any calls to manage nature through destructive intervention or violence, since such approaches have caused enormous unintended consequences in the past.

Duncan Caldwell is a Fellow at theMarine and Paleobiological Research Institute of Vineyard Haven and a Lecturer in prehistory, Doctoral module, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

Oak Bluffs officials are adjusting parking regulations and tightening security for fireworks night, Friday, August 22. — File Photo by Susie Safford

Oak Bluffs Police plan to tighten security for the Ocean Park fireworks this Friday. Added measures will include limited access points, searches of backpacks, coolers, and bags, strict traffic and parking bans, and more police officers.

All of Ocean Ave. will be closed to traffic at 3 pm for the fireworks. Seaview Ave., from Lake Ave. to Samoset Ave., will be closed at 4 pm. There will be parking at Sunset and Waban Parks. Handicap parking will be available at the Steamship Authority staging area and around the Civil War monument.

Evening SSA ferries and the New Bedford fast ferry will be re-routed to Vineyard Haven. The 3 pm New York fast ferry to Oak Bluffs will arrive in Vineyard Haven at 8:30 pm. Expect delays. Choosing a pickup location out of the downtown area is recommended.

Shuttle bus service from Edgartown will be at the corner of Seaview and Tuckernuck Aves., at the Seaview Condominiums. The Vineyard Haven shuttle stop will be at the corner of Lake Ave. and Dukes County Ave.

Oak Bluffs police early Saturday morning arrested Reinaldo Braga Barbosa, 34 of Edgartown, after he attacked his ex-girlfriend in her home on Pennsylvania Avenue after she arrived there with a friend who had escorted her home because she feared Mr. Barbosa, police said.

Mr. Barbosa is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (knife), strangulation, armed burglary, domestic assault and battery, and violation of an abuse prevention order, according to a press release.

Mr. Barbosa confronted the woman and her friend in her driveway when she arrived home from a party. “He started knocking on the window of the vehicle telling the female victim to get out,” police said. At the time, there was an active abuse prevention order in place that prohibits Mr. Barbosa from having contact with the victim and orders him to stay away from her residence, according to police.

“The female victim asked her male friend to stay with her until she got into her house safely.”

After the woman entered the residence Mr. Barbosa forced his way inside and began choking her. The male party who drove the female victim home then ran over to help his friend, police said. Mr. Barbosa allegedly then went into the kitchen area of the residence and armed himself with a kitchen knife at which point he went towards the male with the knife, police said. Oak Bluffs and Edgartown police arrived and Mr. Barbosa fled. He was later arrested at approximately 7 am that morning at his residence on 12th Street South in Edgartown. He is currently being held at the Dukes County Jail without bail on a probation violation in connection with a previous assault and battery case in which he pled guilty and received a 6 month suspended sentence.

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I spent 11 months summoning the courage to write my first five minutes. In retrospect, I don’t know why courage was required to tell jokes at a forgettable open mic in the back room of a dive bar, but it was.

As I wrap up my fourth year performing stand up, I am relieved to have that rookie chapter in my rear view. It feels great to shed old fears and form new, scarier goals. Or maybe I just tell myself that to rationalize my obsessive behavior that transforms every comedy milestone into a false peak.

The moment I realized I could tell one joke successfully, I began to target the “milestone” of performing as a headliner, and I’m proud that I achieved this the other night; I told just under 45 minutes of jokes in my favorite town in the world: Oak Bluffs.

Preparing for this performance was a combination of a lot of living, thinking, writing, bombing, rewriting, and re-bombing. I arrived on the New Bedford fast ferry the night before very uncertain, and frankly unsatisfied, with several portions of my material. I rarely get more than five to ten minutes of stage time here in New York, so a good portion of my setlist had barely been tested, and I had no idea how it would all flow as one work.

I don’t know how this happened — maybe it’s the Fluoride in the water — but while reviewing my material in Oak Bluffs the afternoon of the show, I made a handful of last minute tweaks and punchline rejiggers, and suddenly felt completely reassured. I was irrationally comfortable. I probably should have sought medical attention.

I think this moment of Zen came from knowing that the audience deck would be stacked to an almost illegal level. Family, friends, so many types of wonderful people from all different chapters of my life turned out.

The immense love and support in the room that night made me feel like I could tell any joke I wanted, in any way I wanted, so I did. I am so thankful to have had such a special environment and memory. Oak Bluffs always has a knack for this kind of magic.

Serendipity has always played such a fun role in my development a comic, and I have so much appreciation for Tony Lombardi, Alex’s Place, and the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA for putting this all together for me. What started with my question about open mic night last summer, turned into opening for the IMPers, and now this year’s show. There is new talk about doing this every summer, so if you’ll excuse me I’m going to jump off this false peak; I have some more bombing and re-bombing to attend to!

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A perfect day for a bike ride in the State Forest.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

On another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President Obama, Michelle and daughter Malia behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents —  and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Obama departed his vacation home in Chilmark at 11:18 am for West Tisbury, according to pool press reports. The motorcade arrived at a bike path in West Tisbury at 11:38 am and the Obamas and their security contingent pedaled away.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting sighting of the bicycle-riding Obama family. Mr. Obama, the First Lady and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Michelle Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black T-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks and black Nikes. All donned bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the president and family for only seconds as they continued to make their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

First Lady Michelle Obama.
First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip since Saturday to the popular Oak Bluffs Course. Today’s golf partners, according to the White House are: Glenn Hutchins, Cyrus Walker and Robert Wolf.

The State Forest was created in 1908 in an effort to save a dwindling population population of heath hens. Only 45 remained on Earth at the time. The State Forest has since expanded to 5,343 acres and the heath hen is extinct.


To the Editor:

Thanks, Joyce and the the MV Times, for a wonderful article (August 5, “Kids and parents collaborate to stage Spring Awakening”) that really captures what the Spring Awakening project was all about!

I want to give a special shout-out to actor Joe Mendick who played the lead role of Melchior in our production. A 2014 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Joe devoted his time and talents to be a part of this collaboration, bringing together elements of professionalism, talent, and craft to breathe life into Melchior. This immensely talented actor is headed out to L.A. for a very successful career, I’m sure.

Another shout-out to MVRHS junior Ben Davey who blew me away with his knowledge and ability to design, move, and run lights. His devotion to the show and getting things right was impressive and greatly appreciate.

Additionally, many thanks go to Brian Nelson and family for the use of their beautiful chairs.

And to the following community people and organizations: schools superintendent James Weiss, Charlie Esposito and the PAC staff, Kathleen Forsythe for her poster design, the Youth Task Force, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the YMCA, Lily Lubin, Elina Street, MJ Bruder-Munafo and the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Cynthia Bermudes, Joanne Cassidy, Julie Sierputoski, Jil Mastriciano of Rise MV Performing Arts, Richard Paradise, Bob LaSala, Chris Mara, Sean Conley, Nancy Gilfoy, and Cronig’s Market.

What a fantastic island this is!

Michele Ortlip

West Tisbury

To the Editor:

On Thursday, July 24, the Island was presented with the opportunity to discuss bringing back the heath hen at a community meeting at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury. The idea that sparked that event came from the simple mention of the iconic bird at a picnic about a year ago — almost to the day. Since then the community of Martha’s Vineyard has taken me on an eye-opening journey.

My goal in this project was to engage the community in a conversation. Until the Ag Hall event, my position on this subject was genuinely neutral within the contextual guideline of “Do no harm to the Vineyard.” Whether or not a heath hen ever sets foot on the Vineyard again, I championed the idea because there were so many benefits to be gained in just attempting to undertake this huge project. Most of those benefits I learned about over the course of a four-day visit to the Island in late March with Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan, the creators of Revive & Restore, a conservation-based project of The Long Now Foundation that is dedicated to long term thinking and problem solving. The highlight of our visit was an informal, creative, brainstorming roundtable at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum with many of the Island leaders and stakeholders where the question was posed: “How could the Vineyard benefit from bringing back the heath hen?”

The list was long and varied with benefits ranging from dialing down the predators to opening view corridors, to building new affordable housing, to the potential of creating a regional bio-tech institute on the Vineyard, to bringing back the bobwhite quail. But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that the discussion around this extinct bird provided an invitation to the Island people and conservation groups to come together and ask themselves what do they want their Island to be in the long-term future — 10 years from now, 20, 50, or 100? And how can we work together to get there?

We had a couple of working titles for the Ag Hall heath hen event over the last year, but eventually we settled on “The Heath Hen Could Come Back,” which voices our intention best. It expresses an opportunity to be developed or not by the community, to become the first community on earth to re-introduce an extinct species.

Despite a lot of hard work over the last year, and a lot of support from many enthusiastic Islanders, I remained neutral on the subject; even bringing back a virtual heath hen I thought would have its benefits. But as the lights began to dim Thursday evening at the Ag Hall, and the room began to fill with 175 residents from around the Island, an image from the event poster filled the screen and I sat there in silence for a few moments just looking at this majestic pair of beautifully arrayed heath hens. And for the first time in a year, I became really present with this bird whose large image now loomed over us. And though I had asked myself and many others, this moment was the first time I asked the bird, “What do you think? Is this a good thing? Do you want to come back?” Sounds a little nutty, but I have always trusted my intuition in business and life. So I can confidently tell you, I strongly sensed that YES, this species wants to come back.

I sincerely hope someone steps up from the Island to become the steward and leader of this project. The Island and the heath hens are lucky to have the attention of Mr. Brand and Ms. Phelan, pioneers at the frontier of cultural re-imagination, who have access to the scientific resources to work with you on this cutting edge proposition.

While hanging the event posters around the Island I had many conversations with shopkeepers, gas station attendants, fishermen, artists, educators, church-goers, farmers, chefs, and religious leaders. With deep gratitude I thank them for their support and open-mindedness. And here’s an extra shout out to the Islanders, whatever position they may hold on this subject. I am filled with gratitude that they listened to what first sounded like a crazy idea. Thank you for offering your counsel, your time, your encouragement, your courage, your address book, your enthusiasm, your ideas, and your criticism. Critical thinking will bring us to the best place. And many thanks to all those Islanders who attended the Chilmark Library seminar of Wednesday night and the Agricultural Hall event on Thursday to learn about this unique concept. I am proud to have held a long-term relationship with an Island that must have one of the highest concentrations of thoughtful and creative people in the world. If this will happen anywhere, which eventually it will, I think it has its best shot with our community.

Susan Johnson Banta

Chilmark and Stinson Beach, Calif.

To the Editor:

On behalf of Eastville Beach visitors, residents and beachgoers, we request that that an industrial, for-profit oyster aquafarm proposal be discussed and reviewed prior to any final approvals. We have significant concerns about this proposed farm and would encourage Island residents and the public who use Eastville Beach to voice their concerns. If approved, this farm would be among the first views visitors have of Martha’s Vineyard as this busy harbor is the gateway to the Island for visitors and residents.

A commercial oyster farming operation just off the beach at Eastville on this beautiful and busy public recreational area will negatively impact not only the residents of Beach Road, but the many Island visitors and residents who enjoy Eastville Beach and its waters. Our concerns include significant hazards for navigation and swimming, pollution of the beach with material, buoys, odors, and permanently-moored barges in the water as well as noise from power washers. Oyster farming risks biofouling with invasive species, such as sea squirts.

We have the following key concerns:

What environmental impact will an aquafarm have on the quality of the public beach, water quality (which has been improving since residents paid for the sewer system to be installed, benefitting residents and beachgoers), and impact to public and private property? What farming and cleaning practices will be utilized? No details have been provided by the proposers to assuage resident’s concerns.

Residents are concerned that a similar proposal by the Martino brothers in the Lagoon Pond (that was defeated unanimously by the selectmen of Oak Bluffs) provided residents more time for review. The Lagoon residents were given a four-month period while Eastville Beach residents were given only a few weeks.

It defies logic that the Eastville Beach location would be approved when the Lagoon proposal was defeated. All of the same negative impacts at the Lagoon site are present in the Eastville site. But the Eastville site is more exposed, and thus, more prone to a farm failure or environmental impact due to currents and storms.

The process for review of this proposal was minimal for those being impacted. The time for review was prior to the shellfish committee meeting in February — where minutes of the meeting do not even mention the Eastville proposal. Why is it that the agenda for that shellfish meeting did not mention the Eastville location? It is clear from the agenda that the Martino brothers were proposing an aquafarm, yet they never mentioned the Eastville location. By the time the residents became fully aware of this proposal, the shellfish committee had already given their approval to proceed. The first opportunity to comment on this was at the March 15selectmen meeting where comments were allowed yet no discussion of the comments was permitted. At that meeting, an immediate vote was taken without allowing any discussion and the selectmen approved the proposal.

Why is such an exposed location being proposed? This location will be prone to movement of materials away from the farming zone and is located in very active recreational, sailing and boating waters. There is no commercial activity in this area. Is this area now being considered a commercial or industrial zone?

The proposal will introduce significant navigational hazard concerns for swimmers, boaters, sailors and other recreational users. Consider the moored barges of uncertain size, the undetermined number of buoys, cages and lines, and the sheer size of the area. Consider also that the sailing program through the V.H. Yacht Club trains in the waters off Eastville Beach throughout the summer months and this is a major hazard to the young sailors.

Residents are concerned about the placement of a private commercial venture within the boundaries of an environmentally protected area.

Residents are concerned that another oyster farm in Menemsha Pond failed and         material and hazards from that farm were not cleaned up for years. To this day, rotting material from that failed farm continues to sully the environment around that pond, and residents were not provided an appropriate remediation process.

What relevance do the FEMA Velocity Zone Designations have on this proposal? Have those been considered and reviewed?

Finally, the Martino brothers have already expressed plans to “substantially increase” the scope of this commercial farm. It must be said that they are not experienced aqua farmers; that is a fact. Few details about this proposal have been discussed in a public forum and impacted parties have not been informed about this aquaculture application by the Martino brothers.

As residents and recreational users of Eastville Beach and its surrounding waters, we ask that the Selectmen do not grant final approval of the application for an aquafarm off Eastville Beach for the same excellent reasons it was denied in the Lagoon Pond proposal.

Patricia, Jacob, Wendy, and Amy Ludwig

Oak Bluffs