MVC set to discuss Ocean Management Plan
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) and the All-Island Selectmen will host a public discussion with officials from the Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Affairs (EEA) about the state's draft Ocean Management Plan (OMP) on October 21, at 6:30 pm, in the cafeteria at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
The draft OMP addresses potential wind turbine development in state waters. It would allow for small wind farms of 10 or fewer turbines off the immediate Vineyard coast and larger wind farms southwest of Nomans Land and west of Cuttyhunk.
State officials held the fifth and final public hearing for the OMP at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven on September 23. Since the hearing was solely for the purpose of accepting public comment for the record, state officials agreed they would return for a less formal discussion meeting and answer questions.
The public comment period ends November 23 and the plan will be finalized by December 31. The MVC submitted written comments outlining concerns about the OMP in a 10-page document to EEA officials on October 2.
The document is available here.
Supervised burn planned for Vineyard Golf Club
The Vineyard Golf Club will conduct a prescribed burn of the native grass areas of the golf course, the club announced this week. The purpose of the burn is to control invasive broadleaf weeds and woody plant material organically and to promote little bluestem and fine fescues in the native grass areas of the golf course.
The prescribed burn will be supervised by Northeast Forest and Fire Management, LLC and will occur between October 12 and April 30, 2010, as determined by the Edgartown Fire Department.
For more information, call course superintendent Jeff Carlson at 508-627-8930, ext. 100.
Bow hunters urged to hunt safely
The start of the six-week Massachusetts archery deer hunting season Monday this week provides the promise of excitement and venison. It also holds some risk for hunters who do not follow proper safety precautions when climbing into or down from a tree stand.
Environmental Police Sgt. Matt Bass said hunters who do not wear a fall restraint harness risk serious injury or even death. He said it also important that hunters check all the components of a tree stand before venturing into the woods with it.
According to a study conducted by Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, one third of tree stand hunters will at some time fall from a stand, and about three percent will suffer crippling injuries.
Of all the tree stand accidents, 75 to 80 percent occur while climbing up or down. Other falls occur when hunters fall asleep while on a platform.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) recommends that hunters wear a full body restraint system, understand its use and let someone know where he or she is hunting. DFW provides safety information at (www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw). A free online tree stand safety course is also available at tmastands.com.
SSA objects to bill to amend its enabling act
The Steamship Authority has objected to state Senate Bill 1176, which would amend the boatline's enabling legislation to affect its negotiations with its union employees.
The bill would "authorize a single arbitrator to determine the wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment for the Steamship Authority's unionized employees in the event the Authority is unable to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the union representing those employees within five months after the expiration of the prior agreement between the Authority and that union," according to the boatline's statement of opposition to the proposal. H. Flint Ranney of Nantucket, the Steamship Authority chairman, described the proposed legislation and the members' opposition in an email message dated October 9.
The Joint Committee on Public Service held a hearing on October 6 on Senate Bill 1176, filed by Senators Marc Pacheco from the 1st Plymouth and Bristol District, Byron Rushing from the 9th Suffolk District, and Martha Walz from the 8th Suffolk District. A similar bill was filed in the 2007-2008 session.
A similar bill, with identical language, House Bill 1829, filed by Rep. Matthew Patrick, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
"There is no need for any legislation to assist the Authority in reaching new collective bargaining agreements with its unions," the boatline members wrote. "Despite the many difficult issues facing all employers in this Commonwealth, including but not limited to the rising cost of health care, we have remained successful in reaching new collective bargaining agreements for all of our 550 unionized employees except recently for one of our eight bargaining units comprised of 56 of our licensed deck officers."
"Our inability to reach a new collective bargaining agreement for our licensed deck officers," the boatline members wrote, "is not in any way attributable to any unreasonable actions or positions being taken by the Authority. Indeed, even before the licensed deck officers' most recent collective bargaining agreement expired on July 31, 2009, the Steamship Authority had reached a tentative new collective bargaining agreement for those officers with their union, the Licensed Officers and Maritime Workers Union, affiliated with Local 1596, U.A.W. Unfortunately, the employees in that bargaining unit failed to ratify that tentative agreement. But the Steamship Authority and the union have reached a subsequent tentative agreement that the union once again has taken back to the employees for their consideration. If the licensed deck officers ratify this second tentative collective bargaining agreement, they will continue to be among the most highly compensated individuals in the Commonwealth and across the country for the work they do."
Edgartown to renew dredge work
Edgartown's town-owned dredge is ready to begin work in Sengekontacket Pond, to remove sand and transport it down Beach Road to replenish Bend in the Road Beach.
The news came in an update to selectmen at their regular meeting, from dredge advisory committee chairman Norman Rankow. He said a planned project in Katama was scuttled when the committee discovered that permits had expired.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, information technology manager Adam Darack outlined a plan to notify citizens in case of an emergency. The action was prompted by the recent water crisis in Oak Bluffs.
Mr. Darack plans to establish a notification system where residents could sign up for notification voluntarily, and if necessary, a mass message would be transmitted to their mobile phones.
The board also sent a strongly worded letter to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, asking the MVC to refocus its response to the Oceans Act.
"We are well aware of the opinions of some of the individual commission members that would like to see all of Martha's Vineyard under a DCPC (district of critical planning concern) in order to implement the Island Plan and we are in disagreement," wrote the board in a letter over all three selectmen's signatures. "The proper place for implementing the planning suggestions contained in the Island Plan belongs at the town meetings."
NSTAR spraying irks Islanders
NSTAR Electric and Gas Corporation has finished herbicide spraying under its power lines on Martha's Vineyard. According to company spokesman Mike Durand, the spraying was done October 6-8 in the towns of Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown. Mr. Durand said the spraying is part of the company's integrated vegetation management. The land under the power lines is first mowed. The following year, licensed, certified workers go back over the mowed ground and selectively apply herbicides from a backpack sprayer to unwanted invasive species.
"It's recognized as the best way to maintain a right of way," Mr. Durand said. He said the method is approved by state regulators and used by some conservation organizations.
A check of local organizations, including the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation, the Land Bank, and the local Audubon chapters revealed that none of those Island organizations use integrated vegetation management. Although some of these organizations use herbicides in very selective circumstances to eradicate invasive plant species, most use natural methods to manage their lands, including hand pulling of invasive species by volunteers.
Oak Bluffs cuts library hours
In a cost-cutting move, the Oak Bluffs Public Library has trimmed hours. The library will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 am - 6 pm; Thursday 10 am - 8 pm; and Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The new schedule begins on November 3. The new hours mean the library will no longer be open on Tuesday evening, but will be open an hour later than the current schedule on Wednesday and Friday. Saturday's new hours are an hour shorter than the current schedule.
"Proposed by the town as a cost saving measure, the new hours have been approved by the library trustees," Matthew Bose, assistant library director, said in a news release. "The new schedule streamlines staffing."
Oak Bluffs working on emergency plans
Oak Bluffs selectmen and their town administrator, reviewing the recent contaminated town water crisis during their regular meeting Tuesday, criticized the way the public was notified about an order to boil water issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"It was clear we were pretty rusty," town administrator Michael Dutton said. "The citizens expect that we're on top of our game."
Mr. Dutton said the town's water department, health department, police department, and emergency management personnel are at work to draft new protocols to deal with such a crisis and notify the public. "It sounds easy, but emergency planning is a lot of work," he said.
Also Tuesday, a group of Ryan's Way residents complained to the board about the Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida church at 1 Ryan's Way. They say the pastor of the church is running an illegal boarding house and violating town orders, as well as the conditions of its MVC permit, in several ways. Selectmen acknowledged enforcing building and zoning regulations has been a problem. Selectman Ron DiOrio suggested the board take legal action to address the issues.
In other action, the board granted applications from two local restaurateurs to extend their seasonal alcohol licenses to year-round licenses. Mediterranean and Zapotec now plan to remain open all year.
Endowment fund to host estate planning seminar
The Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard will host a lunch and informational seminar on effective strategies for estate planning and charitable gift planning for Island professional advisors. The guest speaker will be Charles Cheever, a partner in the wealth management practice of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLC in Boston.
The seminar is scheduled from 12 to 1:30 pm, today, October 15, at the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center. For more information, contact Ralinda Lurie at 508-338-4665 or email@example.com.
The story in the October 8 issue of The Times, "Tisbury selectmen stop Lake Street fuel sales," incorrectly identified commercial fisherman Jeff Canha as a commercial fuel dealer. Jay McMann of Island Fuel is the fuel dealer.