Oak Bluffs selectmen move to sue church
Oak Bluffs selectmen voted to begin legal action against the Nova Vida Church at 1 Ryan's Way, during their Tuesday meeting. The property has been the subject of frequent complaints by neighbors, dating back to 2007. Neighbors say there is an illegal boarding house on the property, there are church gatherings that violate numerous building regulations, and there is storage of landscaping equipment that violates zoning laws. The town's building inspector has issued a cease and desist order to halt the violations. Town administrator Michael Dutton recommended the board file suit in Dukes County Superior Court seeking compliance with the order.
Also Tuesday, the board discussed the draft Island Plan with Martha's Vineyard Commission executive director Mark London, and several members of the Island Plan steering committee. All of the selectmen offered high praise for the draft document, but there was some skepticism about what happens next.
"How do we implement this," chairman Greg Coogan asked. "You say 'that's a wonderful idea,' now how do we pay for that. All of these things have dollar amounts attached to them."
The board also discussed ways to improve pedestrian safety near Nancy's Restaurant, where owners of the establishment park their vehicles and a truck that removes trash. The board was shown three options. The first option would create a wider sidewalk, and force the owners to park on their own property, closer to the restaurant's lower terrace. The second option would route the sidewalk onto restaurant property near the terrace, and leave the parking as it is. The third option would trade land rights, and reserve two parallel parking spots on the street, while routing the sidewalk partly over Nancy's property.
Selectmen expect to make a decision at their next meeting.
Sparse turnout, short work at Edgartown special
Edgartown voters made short work of a 13-article special town meeting warrant Tuesday night. With little discussion, voters approved all articles in about 40 minutes.
A total of 168 of the town's 3,140 registered voters turned out at the Old Whaling Church, just 11 voters more than the number needed for a quorum.
Among the articles approved, voters agreed to pay Edgartown's share of the fiscal year 2010 Martha's Vineyard Commission operating budget in the amount of $274,000; appropriate up to $130,000 to give town employees a three-percent cost of living increase not originally included in this year's operating budget; and appropriate funds to extend the town's sewer system to the Island Grove subdivision off Meetinghouse Way in the Edgartown Great Pond watershed.
Mediation program hires new coordinator
The Martha's Vineyard Mediation Program (MVMP) recently hired Elena Mercurio as the new program coordinator. Ms. Mercurio, a Vineyard resident for 17 years, has worked as a court reporter at the Dukes County Courthouse and at the Suffolk County Courthouse.
"Elena will be an enormous asset for us," MVMP president Jane Thayer said in a press release. "Her court experience, business skills, and eagerness for community are energizing our management team. I think her passion for excellence, coupled with a career in the legal industry, will allow us to provide even more to the community."
Judge Herbert Tucker and Clerk Magistrate Thomas Teller, now retired, founded MVMP in 1984. As the Island's only not-for-profit mediation program, MVMP offers free mediation services through trained mediators to parties in small claims disputes and affordable fee-based dispute resolution services, in matters relating to business, employment, family/probate, and real estate.
Ms. Thayer said some immediate goals for Ms. Mercurio and the MVMP board are expanding the mediator training programs and business and fundraising outreach, and strengthening relations between the program, the judicial system, and the Island legal community. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-693-2999, for information.
Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank makes it official
The Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank will open a branch office before the end of the year at the intersection of Water Street and Railroad Avenue in Woods Hole, in the building that once housed a Bank of America branch.
Chris Wells, bank president and CEO, had nothing to say about the plan when The Times reported the news earlier this month. Paperwork was still in the works. But on Tuesday, Mr. Wells said, "We are very excited to be able to offer banking services to the people and businesses of Woods Hole in their community, and at the same time provide an additional convenient branch location to the bank's existing customers."
Islanders will know the location, because it is adjacent to Pie in the Sky, a popular bakery and sandwich shop.
The Bank will offer full-service, year-round banking from the site, including a 24-hour ATM, a self-service coin machine, and night depository for after-hours deposits all under the name Bank of Woods Hole, a branch of Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank. Lending, trust, and investment services will also be available at the new location.
The Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank was created by the merger announced in June 2007 of the Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank and Dukes County Savings Bank.
As of September 30, the Bank had total assets of $470 million and total deposits of $375 million. For more information, go to mvbank.com.
RMV offers license renewal reminders again
Drivers who would like a reminder a month before their licenses expire may sign up for email, phone, or text message notifications, according to a recent report from the State House News Service.
After budget cuts prompted the state to discontinue its long-time notification system, private businesses, including Arbella Insurance, offered to sponsor the program.
Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) registrar Rachel Kaprielian said the new, no-charge initiative replaces paper mailings that cost $800,000.
The RMV partnered with Sendza Inc., for the free reminder notification service. Register online at mass.gov/rmv.
Public hearing on wind DCPC over Island waters
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) will hold a public hearing on a proposed Island wind district of critical planning concern (DCPC) at 7 pm on Thursday, November 5, at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building.
The public hearing addresses a proposed DCPC that would cover the airspace more than 220 feet above the waters of Dukes County. The purpose of the DCPC is to provide a framework to regulate large-scale wind turbine development.
The MVC vote to accept the DCPC nomination for Island waters on October 6 triggered a development moratorium on all building projects exceeding 220 feet above mean sea level in the waters of Dukes County, from the Island's shoreline to the three-mile Massachusetts boundary limit.
In addition to the public hearing on November 5, the MVC commissioners will consider a nomination for an Island wind DCPC that would apply to the airspace above 220 feet over land on Martha's Vineyard. If the additional Island wind DCPC over land is accepted for consideration, the MVC will schedule another public hearing.
Derby by the numbers: more fishermen than fish
The 64th annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby that ended on October 18 was notable for a continuing decline in the number of striped bass brought to the weigh station this year.
Greg Skomal, Derby chairman, said the 2009 numbers reflect the overall poor beach fishing and a general decline in the number of striped bass caught.
The striper is New England's premier gamefish and the centerpiece of the Derby. Mr. Skomal said the 2008 Derby witnessed a significant decline in fish weighed in over the previous year and that slide, while more moderate, continued in 2009.
Here are the numbers:
A total of 2,844 fishermen registered in the Derby. The breakdown was 2,337 all tackle (2,039 male, 298 female); 274 junior; 233 fly rod.
Derby fishermen weighed in a total of 2,273 fish (22,471 pounds) over the five-week contest, or .80 fish per fisherman.
Entries by shore fishermen surpassed those by boat fishermen in only one species category, striped bass (209 to 166).
Fishermen weighed in 1,087 bluefish (919 boat, 168 shore); 315 bonito (285 boat, 30 shore); and 196 false albacore (108 boat, 88 shore).
Fly fishermen weighed in only two bluefish, two bonito and 10 bass in the shore category. In total fly fishermen accounted for 62 fish or .27 fish per angler.
Permanent Endowment hands out $20,000 in grants
The Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard has awarded grants to 12 nonprofit Island organizations totaling $19,850. "There is a lot happening in the community that benefits many Vineyarders," Permanent Endowment chairman Anne Williamson said. "A number of nonprofit organizations are working to better educate and inform adults and children in the classroom, online and through a number of thoughtful programs. Some have wonderful art offerings that both teach and entertain. While other nonprofits are attending to the preservation of the natural beauty of the Island. Although the need is greater than the available resources, the Permanent Endowment is pleased to be helping nonprofits involved in the arts and culture, the elderly, education, the environment and health and human services with these grants that will improve the quality of life on the Vineyard."
The grant recipients are: Adult and Community Education of Martha's Vineyard, Great Pond Foundation, Martha's Vineyard Center for Living, Martha's Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen's Association, Martha's Vineyard Museum, the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools' English Language Learning Program, Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Sail Martha's Vineyard, Silver Screen Film Society, Vineyard House, Women Empowered, and The Yard.
For more information on the Permanent Endowment Fund, go to endowmv.org or call 508-338-4665.
Tisbury Emergency Services Facility progress
The Tisbury Emergency Services Facility (ESF) building committee presented its proposal in detail Tuesday, displaying plans for a new building to house the town's fire, ambulance, and emergency management departments on Spring Street.
About 30 people attended the public forum at the Vineyard Haven Library. The committee welcomed questions. Blueprints and plans were available from the design team from HKT Architects in Somerville.
If approved by voters at a special town meeting on November 17 and in a ballot vote on December 8, the ESF will be built on Spring Street across from the Tisbury School. The site is now occupied by town hall annex offices, which would be relocated to trailers in the short-term on a site next to Tisbury's animal shelter. Where they will end up eventually is uncertain.
The warrant article for the ESF construction will include a cost for the project, which is not available yet from the cost estimator. However, ESF committee chairman Joe Tierney said Tuesday night that "the best guess at this time" is between $6.75 and $6.99 million.
Mr. Tierney said sub-bids will be opened on Friday, and general contractor bids are due November 13.
Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling, who serves on the ESF committee, said in all the estimates received from various contractors, there is a caveat for the "Vineyard factor."
"We are not dodging," Mr. Schilling said. "We really accelerated the design process toward getting an accurate bid for town meeting and really pushed the schedule, but we will end up with a more exact price."
In a Power Point presentation, Mr. Tierney displayed floor plans for the new, approximately 18,500-square-foot facility, which includes six bays on the ground level for fire and ambulance department vehicles and apparatus. In addition to offices, the administration section includes two bunkrooms for emergency medical technicians.
The lower level includes a meeting room, and storage space, an area for washing and drying firefighters' gear, and a training area. Mr. Tierney, a lieutenant in the fire department in charge of training, said it would be a valuable asset for training personnel on-site. The split-gable design features a low maintenance brick and cedar shingle exterior. The building includes "green" renewable energy features such as a solar hot water system and a geothermal heating and cooling system.
Tisbury School principal Richie Smith said the school community is satisfied with the plans for the new facility. Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel added that the selectmen recently approved plans for reconfiguring the school's parking and traffic flow to make it safer, whether the ESF is built or not.
If the ESF is approved, Mr. Tierney said tentative plans call for groundbreaking in February 2010 and completion of the building by August.
Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank awards grants
The Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank (MVSB) Charitable Fund recently awarded grants to six local nonprofit organizations and community groups.
Financial awards were provided to community organizations representing health and human services programs, youth and education initiatives, and arts and cultural programs.
Recipients included BravEncore and the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's theater program, the Friends of Edgartown Council on Aging, the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust, Women Empowered, the American Red Cross, and the Aids Support Group of Cape Cod for expanded services to Islanders.
Through September 2009, the MVSB Charitable Fund has supported more than 100 Island individuals and organizations with a total of more than $130,000 in contributions.
Grant requests are reviewed quarterly. Information about the community grant program is available online at mvbank.com.
English Butler packing up
After five years in business, the English Butler Tearoom in Edgartown will close its doors in December. British owners Alison and Chris Bird said they have found it increasingly hard to satisfy U.S. business visa requirements, due to the seasonality of the Island economy.
"With only one more year guaranteed by the U.S. government, Chris and I decided we would prefer to work a little less and enjoy some of what the Vineyard has to offer," Mr. Bird said, "which was, after all why we chose to come here in the first place."
The United Kingdom Tea Company - trading as The English Butler - will continue with off-site catered tea parties, and wholesale business.
A liquidation sale will begin on Wednesday, November 11 and continue through to December, according to a press release. Call 508-627-1013 for information.
The list of special awards presented at the Derby awards ceremony, published in the Oct. 22 issue, did not include the David Furino Memorial Award, given for sibling spirit, determination, and sportsmanship to Taylor and Tristan Blair of Edgartown.