News in Brief
Following a recommendation from the chief of police, the Edgartown selectmen voted unanimously Monday to revoke the business license for Accurate Cab.
Paul Condlin, Edgartown police chief, and detective Craig Edwards, told the selectmen that there were several outstanding issues concerning the taxi company, including reports of overcharging, a discrepancy on where the business was located, and a question of who even owned the company.
Daniel Navarette, the owner of record for Accurate Cab, said that he had "an owner in waiting," Alex Brodka. He said that Mr. Brodka was out of the country, and could not attend the meeting.
Mr. Navarette said that he no longer had financial interest in the company, which he said he had handed over to Mr. Brodka. The selectmen said that the town must approve any change in ownership and that in the eyes of the town, Mr. Navarette is still responsible for the business.
Detective Edwards said that whoever is running the company, he has not been operating the taxi business for at least a month. He said there are two listed phone numbers for the company. One is an overseas number, and the other goes to an answering machine. Detective Edwards said he has not seen an Accurate Cab on the road for at least a month.
Chief Condlin also told the selectmen that his department had investigated several reports of Accurate Cab overcharging its customers this summer.
Mr. Navarette disputed the charge, but at the end of the meeting told the selectmen, "If anyone was overcharged, it was because you deserve it."
Mr. Navarette said that the taxi fares set by the selectmen are too low.
Art Smadbeck, chairman of the selectmen, responded, "What this town deserves is a cab company that obeys the rules."
Following a motion from Margaret Serpa, the selectmen voted unanimously to immediately revoke the taxi company's business license.
Selectmen continue look
at county government
Selectmen from four Island towns met last week to discuss moving forward with a comprehensive review of the government of the County of Dukes County.
Led by West Tisbury, selectmen from Edgartown, Tisbury, and Chilmark attended the meeting, along with county manager E. Winn Davis.
The West Tisbury selectmen set up the committee in September to look into the best way to take a close look at the benefits and shortcomings of county government, with an eye toward improving the current system, or possibly abolishing county government altogether.
Selectmen at last week's meeting made no decision, but agreed to continue to examine the usefulness and viability of county government. Selectmen expressed differing opinions on the matter.
Tristan Israel, selectmen from Tisbury, was intensely critical.
"For me, and for many people, I think that there is a real concern about county government and its role and viability on the Island," he said. Mr. Israel said that the county needs "some kind of direction."
Warren Doty, a Chilmark selectman, agreed. "If the county is going to continue to exist it needs to have a mission," he said.
Mr. Davis said that the county does have a mission, and that he has been working to fine-tune it. He said he has been moving the county to include more public health functions.
Edgartown selectman Art Smadbeck was less critical of the county. He said that the county streamlines many regional functions such as rodent control and health access.
While no decisions were made at the meeting, the selectmen gave themselves homework for the next meeting.
Glenn Hearn, West Tisbury selectman, said he wanted to collect more data on which to base future discussions. "I think there is a lot of information that needs to be gathered," he said.
Mr. Israel said he would examine how other counties in the state were abolished and how they function now. Mr. Davis said that he would bring a breakdown of the county budget to the next meeting, along with a report from the original county charter committee, which created the home rule charter that was enacted in 1992.
A date has not been set for the next meeting, but Mr. Hearn said that it would most likely be held in January.
Della T. Hardman,
dead at 83
Della (Brown) Taylor Hardman of Oak Bluffs died Dec. 13 at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. She was 83. Her second husband, Leon Hardman, died in 1995. Her first husband, Francis C. Taylor Sr. also predeceased her. She is survived by her children, Andrea L. Taylor, Francis C. Taylor Jr., Faith Taylor Kinard, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 pm, in the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Performing Art Center. Donations may be made in her memory to the Oak Bluffs Library, P.O. Box 2039, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements by Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs, 508-693-1495, or visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for the online guest book. A full obituary will appear in a later edition of the Times.
Oak Bluffs police to move to old town hall
The Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to take steps to allow the Oak Bluffs police department to move into the old town hall, which
was vacated five years ago for health-related reasons, following complaints by municipal employees that they were not feeling well. Town officials had dubbed it a "sick building."
At Tuesday's meeting, the selectmen said that they would take steps to ensure that the building is safe before allowing the police to move in. Earlier this year town officials said that recent tests on the building had not revealed any significant air quality problems. They said that they had removed old rugs, replaced windows, and cleaned up areas that could have been harboring mold and mildew.
The selectmen's decision to allow the police to move into the abandon building was based on a recommendation from the Oak Bluffs Community Development Council (CDC). The CDC held a public forum in October to discuss what the town should do with the old town hall. While there were several suggestions at the forum, the most widely supported plan called for the police department to move in from its cramped location adjacent to the town hall.
Erik Blake, Oak Bluffs police chief, said that he already uses the basement of the old town hall for storage and as an evidence room, but said he desperately needs more space for daily police operations.
Yesterday Chief Blake said that he was "very excited" by the selectmen's decision. "I have said it before, and I'll say it again, this is not just a matter of convenience, this is a matter of the police department being able to operate professionally," said Chief Blake. "Right now, we simply don't have the square footage that we need to operate."
Chief Blake said that he would like to move into the old town hall by July 1 of next year. "We are very excited by the selectmen's decision and the CDC's recommendation," he said. "This department hasn't changed its facility in 30 years or so, and to move into the town hall will be a great benefit."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Sledders must obey
the laws of gravity
Sledders at the Tashmoo overlook must keep their sleds on the snow this winter.
Tisbury officials recently had a sign placed on the popular, but still snow-less sledding slope, declaring, "Build no jumps per town of Tisbury."
Theodore Saulnier, Tisbury police chief, said that the water department, which controls the property, erected the sign after he and the fire chief requested a jump-building ban.
Chief Saulnier said that last winter two sledders had to be taken away by ambulance after crashing their sleds in jumping mishaps.
"Within two weeks of each other we had two sledders that had to be extricated with back and other injuries," said Chief Saulnier. "Luckily, the injuries turned out not to be as serious as they could have been, but it raised a flag for us."
Chief Saulnier said that some town officials had suggested that sledding be banned altogether, but he thought that was too extreme.
"It is a great place for public enjoyment," he said. "I bring my eight-year-old daughter there, and it's great, but there was clearly a need for making it safer."
Oak Bluffs supports
SSA terminal plans
The latest plan to renovate the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority terminal finally won some support from town leaders this week. Following a presentation on the plans from the conservation commission (ConCom), the Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the latest design and concept of the project.
The plans call for a larger pier with more vehicle staging lanes, a larger covered pedestrian walkway, a new terminal building with restrooms, and a traffic island to separate the pickup and drop-off area from the road. The SSA must also replace the aging dolphins and the transfer ramp.
Unlike previous plans, which called for vehicle staging lanes along the North Bluff, almost all of the changes, including additional staging lanes, will be over the water. The Oak Bluffs conservation commission had resisted any use of the North Bluff area in the terminal redesign.
Previous plans had also included leasing the old Oak Bluffs town hall for use as a ticket office, but boatline officials scrapped the idea after they were unable to strike a deal with the selectmen.
Joan Hughes, Oak Bluffs ConCom chairman, told the selectmen that work on the long-delayed terminal reconstruction project is not expected to begin for another three years. She said the $10 million project would be done in three parts over three years.
Ms. Hughes said that the plans have not been finalized, but that the SSA wanted the support of the ConCom and the selectmen before it moved forward with the permitting process.
40B plan resurrected
for West Tisbury
Paul Cusson of Delphic Associates, a New Bedford based developer who specializes in building developments under the provisions of 40B, the so called anti-snob statute, wants to build a 94-unit condominium development on 46 acres on Huseby Mountain Road, off Old Stage Road behind John Keene's excavation business and stump dump in West Tisbury.
The process is in the very early stages. Mr. Cusson has applied to the state for a Project Eligibility Letter, which will enable him to approach the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals (ZBA) for a permit under Chapter 40B (which allows projects to bypass some local zoning bylaws when 25 percent of the units are affordable). West Tisbury executive secretary Jennifer Rand told The Times that the ZBA will immediately pass the application to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, which the court has ruled has jurisdiction to review 40B proposals as developments of regional impact.
Mr. Cusson told The Times that the plan was not just "slapped together" and is a result of an extensive amount of planning that took into consideration the land and its topography. He said he expects some people will be concerned about the density but that it is appropriate for the property.
The West Tisbury selectmen have a one-time-only opportunity, which expires on Jan. 2, to comment on Mr. Cusson's application for project eligibility at the site. Comments might include such things as the impact of a high-density project on traffic flow, the environment, or town resources and services. Ms. Rand said that the selectmen will consult with town boards before replying to the request for comments.
According to Ms. Rand, it may be weeks or months, perhaps as much as a year, before an actual 40B application is filed.
The MVC's jurisdiction over 40B projects was affirmed in a superior court ruling in 2002 in connection with a proposed 320-unit 40B development proposed by Corey Kupersmith during his unsuccessful effort to gain approval to build the Down Island Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.
Mr. Cusson said that given all of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Kupersmith's case the court decision affirming the MVC's right to review 40B is by no means definitive. He said he has no interest in a court battle and wants to work with the MVC and town officials.
Mr. Cusson said that he has spoken with members of Island affordable housing organizations, including the regional Housing Authority and Island Housing trust.
Mr. Cusson's interest in the property first surfaced in a story published on April 30, 2003 when The Times reported that Mr. Cusson was negotiating to purchase the property that is owned by Deborah Olsen and had an asking price of $6 million.
Mr. Cusson said he had teamed up in a joint venture with a Newport, R.I. man who is a member of a real estate investment group and the property is now under agreement.
Fella Cecilio. Photo by Susan Safford
Fella in a homestand
Fella Cecilio, a well-known longtime Island caterer with a reputation for tasty beach clambakes, has added a new enterprise to his menu of business activities. Fella's Take Out is now open in the space formerly occupied by Biga Bakery in North Tisbury. The menu includes pastries, made-to-order sandwiches, soups and breakfast sandwiches. Grand opening decorations included red roses and poinsettias. Fella's is open Monday through Saturday, 7 am to 3 pm.
Post office extends hours
Postal customers can take advantage of extended hours at the Vineyard Haven post office this weekend to pick up mail and ship packages, as well as all other retail services offered on weekdays.
On Saturday, Dec. 17, the lobby and retail services counter will be open from 9:30 am to 3 pm, and on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 10 am to 2 pm. Customers also will be able to pick up packages at the lobby door until 4:30 pm on Sunday.
On Saturday, Dec. 24, the post office will be open its normal retail hours, 9:30 am to 1 pm. All post offices will be closed Sunday, Dec. 25, and Monday, Dec. 26, except for express mail delivery.
Joe Massua, Vineyard Haven postmaster, suggests that customers mail packages as early as possible and promptly pick up packages that have arrived to help relieve postal employees of the high volume of holiday mail in their limited amount of storage space.
Trees at Jim's for Anthony
Jim's Package Store in Oak Bluffs is currently holding a charity Christmas tree sale to benefit a three-year-old Edgartown boy who was hit by a car this summer.
Anthony Chick DelTorto suffered serious head and other injuries in the accident and continues to require regular checkups at Boston Children's Hospital, according to a press release from Jim's Package Store.
Jim's is selling fresh-cut Christmas trees for $29.99 to $39.99 and donating 100 percent of the profits to help pay for the transportation costs for Anthony's family. Jim's is also accepting donations for the cause.
"It is a great time to come together as an Island family and help our own make life just that much sweeter," the press release stated.
In a News Brief published last week we mistakenly undervalued the solar electric system that was recently installed at the Mary P. Wakeman Conservation Center. The photovoltaic project cost $16,000, of which $5,700 was covered by a state subsidy.
In a letter printed in last week's Times, the following paragraph, which referred to a donation from a family in California, along with the letter writer's signature, were omitted:
"While this demonstrates the grassroots and far-flung support that has made our project viable, most importantly, it is an example of brilliant parenting. Kudos to mother Jessica Roddy for an inspired idea. May others take up the example.
Vanderhoop Homestead Restoration Committee