Martha's Vineyard News Briefs
Aquinnah special falls short of quorum
Aquinnah voters turned out for a special town meeting Tuesday night, just not enough of them. A total of 30 voters assembled in the old town hall, nine voters short of a quorum and well short of the town's 396 registered voters.
The meeting was continued to Thursday, November 13, town administrator Jeff Burgoyne said.
Harbor View postpones renovation project
The Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown will postpone completion of its $55 million construction and renovation project until next fall, to avoid risky construction deadlines and in the hopes that the current financing crunch which claimed Lehman Brothers, the hotel's backer, will be resolved.
The lack of construction activity has lead to a change in plans. General manager Thad Hyland said the hotel would reopen for the winter on November 19 with aggressive pricing and promotional packages to attract winter guests and groups.
The original plan was to close the hotel for the fall and winter to accommodate third phase construction and renovations at the 117-year-old hotel.
Scout Real Estate Capital on Nantucket owns the Harbor View. Chief executive officer Alan Worden said in a statement that as a result of a longer permitting process, "the time we had to build over this winter was too tight."
He said the hiatus would also give Scout time to work "with whichever lender steps into Lehman Brothers's shoes."
Mr. Hyland took the long view of the situation this week. "This hotel has survived a couple of world wars and big and small depressions. We know how to operate in a tough economy," he said, recalling a difficult economic downturn in 1991.
"We had a terrific summer, which you need to get through winter, and we're getting calls for next summer, which is good. We have also developed packages for the Steamship Authority, which we normally don't do, and we are marketing to small groups who may be rethinking their meeting plans and would like to stay closer to home."
The Harbor View has 115 rooms today, a few less than pre-construction days, "but they are larger and command better rates, so we're okay on the revenue side." Mr. Hyland said.
Information wanted about Islanders in uniform
Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy would like information about Island military personnel now serving overseas, so she can keep her contact information up to date.
Due to Homeland Security regulations, Ms. Murphy no longer receives lists of military personnel and their whereabouts and must depend on the Martha's Vineyard community for information.
With Veterans Day and the holidays coming soon, Ms. Murphy would like to send gift packages to Island soldiers. Please call contact Ms. Murphy at 508-693-6887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Martha's Vineyard Times also would like to provide an update on Islanders in service for an upcoming issue in November.
Please email names, mailing addresses, and email addresses to email@example.com. Contact information will not be published and will only be used to request updates and photos from military personnel.
Morning Glory Farm receives energy grant
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) yesterday announced that 14 Bay State farms would receive federal grants totaling $730,177 this fall for a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, the only Vineyard farm included among the recipients, will receive $50,000 for a 50-kilowatt wind turbine.
In a telephone conversation yesterday, owner Jim Athearn told The Martha's Vineyard Times that the farm stand off Edgartown-West Tisbury road has four greenhouses and three walk-in coolers that use a considerable amount of electricity. The wind turbine would be mounted on a 100-foot tower and in general terms is expected to supply half the farm stand's needs, he said.
Mr. Athearn said he heard about the grant program and looked into it. After that it was "step by step." The total cost of the turbine is approximately $200,000. Mr. Athearn said he hopes to get additional assistance.
The projects receiving US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants range from thermal blankets for greenhouses to solar photovoltaic systems and wind turbines to generate power for orchards, dairy and vegetable farms, livestock operations, sawmills, and aquaculture.
Oak Bluffs arrests
Oak Bluffs police made multiple arrests over the weekend, according to a log provided by police.
Early Friday morning on Circuit Avenue, police arrested Andrew Rankin, 26, of Tisbury on charges of assault and battery, disorderly conduct, and possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute.
Early Saturday morning, Oak Bluffs police officers stopped Daniel Lavallee, 45, of Gardner, N.C., as he drove along New York Avenue. Police arrested Mr. Lavallee for operating under the influence of alcohol, his fifth offense, and operating after suspension of his driver's license.
Police made three other arrests over the weekend, two of drivers operating motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. They placed one person into protective custody.
Services for Betty L. Quinn
Betty Louise Quinn of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Exeter, N.H., died October 20 in Exeter. Ms. Quinn was born on January 19, 1938, in Shively, Kentucky, to Onslow and Edna Robinson of Chilmark. She attended school in Chilmark and at the Tisbury High School. A memorial service will be held on Friday, Oct. 24, at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs at 1 pm. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Martha's Vineyard Times.
Real estate promotion "positive"
A 10-day promotion featuring a 10-percent reduction in the asking price of 17 Vineyard properties resulted in an offer on one of the properties, according to Sean Federowicz, a principle in Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate.
"There is one offer on the table," said Mr. Federowicz. "I think it was a positive experience. It served getting the spotlight back on the market. Other agencies were piggybacking off our local advertising, which is great. I don't have any problem with that."
Mr. Federowicz said the promotion generated more than the usual number of house hunters, especially on the Columbus Day weekend. "We're still following up with people that demonstrated better than a passing interest," he said. "There were buyers out there."
The event was part of a national promotion to stimulate interest at a time when many real estate related businesses are experiencing downward sales trends.
According to tracking statistics from LINK, a database of Vineyard properties on the market, the number of single-family home sales will decline for the fourth year in a row if the current trends continue. Statistics show that the average sale price of single family homes has declined nearly 26 percent during the first three quarters of 2008.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard plans a seamless transition
Island residents with accounts at the Bank of Martha's Vineyard should expect a seamless transition, as the bank's new owner, Banco Santander, a Madrid-based international bank, takes over.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard is part of Sovereign Bank, which was acquired last week by Banco Santander.
"They don't plan to change the name, they will have the same management team, they're not going to let anybody to go," said Paul Watts, senior vice-president for the Bank of Martha's Vineyard. "For the average person cashing a check, making a mortgage payment, it's going to be a blind transition."
Banco Santander, which already owned nearly 25-percent of Sovereign Bank, exercised its right to purchase the remaining shares, at a price of $1.9 billion. The Spanish bank has 13,000 branches throughout Europe and South America, according to Mr. Watts.
He said bank employees are taking the news in stride, following a month in which fallout from the international financial crisis caused the bank's stock to plummet and its chief operating officer was replaced.
"Everybody's been up and down," said Mr. Watts. "It's a crazy world we live in. I don't think the employees have any concern."
Water District alerts residents to water testing
The Oak Bluffs Water District has advised district customers that they may experience rusty colored water as a result of fire flow testing tonight and for the past two days.
"Please be advised," said a letter mailed to customers, "that although aesthetically displeasing, the water is still safe to drink."
The letter advised customers not to wash laundry, especially whites, until the water runs clear as the discoloration is from iron and may stain whites. "It is further recommended that you run an outside faucet to help remove the rusty colored water from your water service and inside plumbing," said the district letter.
For more information, call 508-693-5527.
Long wait, high demand for energy audits
Rising energy costs and tightening budgets have prompted many Island residents to seek free home energy audits. Waiting times for a home energy audit, available through a program managed by the Cape Light Compact, have lengthened considerably. Yet local residents are still using only a fraction of the funds allotted for the energy saving services.
Edgartown selectman Art Smadbeck urged people to sign up for an audit. "We're only using about 25-percent of our allotment," said Mr. Smadbeck. The audits involve an expert who visits your home, measures energy efficiency, and suggests improvements. Most homeowners will qualify for free or reduced cost measures to improve heating, cooling, and lighting systems.
Anticipating higher demand, the Cape Light Compact asked for and received a boost in state funding this fall.
"Overall, Edgartown is using a good chunk of the money," said Kevin Galligan, who manages the energy efficiency programs at Cape Light Compact. "But when we look at programs, particular the home energy audit, we certainly would encourage people to take advantage."
Figures for other Island towns indicate Vineyard residents are underutilizing the programs.
Mr. Galligan said demand for energy audits is very high. "We are seeing call volume double what it was at this time last year," said Mr. Galligan. "We're running over ten weeks before we can get you an energy audit." Last year the waiting list was only four weeks. He emphasized that as soon as an audit is scheduled, consumers receive an information packet with helpful information and coupons for a head start on saving money.
To schedule and audit, call the Cape Light Compact at 1-800-797-6699.
A book review, published in the September 25 issue of The Martha's Vineyard Times (In Print, Chappy) by Susan Wilson, identified her as the development and publications coordinator for the Martha's Vineyard Museum and a regular columnist for The Martha's Vineyard Times. Ms. Wilson, a published novelist, writes The Last Word column, which appears in the Community section of the paper. In that capacity, Ms. Wilson reviewed the book at the request of The Martha's Vineyard Times, as she has reviewed other books for the newspaper.