News in Brief
Tisbury selectmen discuss embarkation fee allocation
The Tisbury board of selectmen and the town's finance and advisory committee (FinCom) met at the Tisbury Senior Center last Thursday night to discuss the allocation of an estimated $276,000 in 2005 revenues from the SSA passenger embarkation fee.
The meeting's discussion focused on a memorandum to the selectmen written by town administrator John Bugbee, in which he proposed a formula-based approach for expenditure of the funds
Mr. Bugbee noted that last year the FinCom recommended spending the revenue on a new ladder truck for the fire department. "Although I believe this to be a reasonable expense and certainly one well within the parameters of embarkation guidelines, I believe we should adopt a more comprehensive approach with respect to these monies," Mr. Bugbee wrote.
The formula he recommended would allocate 20 percent to beautification of the Steamship Authority Terminal area, such as better signage, added landscaping, Park and Ride lot improvements, ticket kiosks and other measures to make the grounds more inviting to visitors.
Thirty percent of the funds would go towards safety equipment and operations, to include traffic management personnel and portable equipment for fire and ambulance personnel. Another 30 percent would be used for infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks, curbing and crosswalks. The remaining 20 percent would be used for capital expenditures for town equipment impacted by SSA-related activities.
The embarkation fee revenues are the result of legislation signed into law in September 2003 sponsored by Rep. Eric Turkington and Senator Robert O'Leary, which added a 50-cent fee on each one-way passenger ticket, payable to the town where the trip originated.
The law requires that ferry fees be deposited in a special fund, "to be solely appropriated for the purpose of mitigating the impacts of ferry service on the city or town." Those services may include but are not limited to harbor services, public safety protection, emergency services or infrastructure improvements within and around the harbor.
George Balco, FinCom chairman, said his committee basically agreed with Mr. Bugbee's approach and suggested a few revisions. Once revised, the formula will be incorporated into a warrant article for voters' approval at town meeting, Mr. Bugbee said, with a second warrant article to address the actual expenditures within the framework of those percentages.
On March 2, the selectmen and the FinCom will meet again to go over all of the proposed town meeting warrant articles.
County expected to delay airport appointments
The Dukes County commissioners need to fill either three seats or five seats on the county-appointed Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission.
E. Winn Davis, Dukes County manager, is of the view that it is five seats. Although the county had a scheduled meeting last night, Mr. Davis said it was unlikely they would appoint airport commission members because of outstanding questions for the state ethics commission regarding possible conflicts pertaining to the airport business park.
"My guess is that the [county] commissioners may winnow out a few people Wednesday, but I don't think they will be ready to vote," said Mr. Davis on Tuesday.
According to Les Leland of West Tisbury, a county commissioner and former airport commissioner, the county has only three appointments to make. On Tuesday, Mr. Leland said that the county needed to "sort out some issues," before making any appointments to the airport board.
Last month, the county commissioners reappointed Mr. Leland and Jack Law of Oak Bluffs, former airport commission chairman, to the airport commission. Six days later the county commissioners voted to rescind the appointments. That prompted the resignation of two fellow airport commissioners.
Mr. Law asked for a legal opinion on the county's action from Kevin Batt, an attorney with the Boston firm of Edwards Angell Palmer and Dodge. Mr. Batt issued an opinion on Feb. 15, stating that the county lacked the legal authority to remove Mr. Leland and Mr. Law after they appointed the two men to the airport commission.
Mr. Leland, who read Mr. Batt's letter at last week's interview session with the candidates for the airport commission, said that the county needed to address the legal questions before making any appointments.
This week, Mr. Leland said, "According to this letter, there are only three open seats on the airport commission, not five. I think we need to address that before we muddy the waters any more and start making appointments."
Mr. Leland said that he would raise the issue at last night's county meeting.
Last Wednesday, the county commissioners interviewed 13 applicants for five vacant seats on the airport board out of 15 people who submitted letters of interest.
Edgartown harborfront property sold for $25 million
In one of the Island's largest single real estate sales to date, an Edgartown harborfront compound on 4.7 acres was sold last week for $25,175,000 to James F. Reynolds, trustee of the Edgartown Harbor Nominee Trust, according to Martha's Vineyard Land Bank records. Assessed at $3.6 million, the property includes two houses, 300 feet of harbor frontage, and a dock.
The sellers were David V. and Michelle Hedley of Morristown, N.J. and Edgartown. Mr. Hedley, a retired investment banker, said the purchaser, who he did not know, is a European who has had a house in Edgartown for the past eight years.
The Hedleys, who are building a new house at Herring Creek Farm, paid $32,565 in property taxes in 2005. The sale of their house generated a Land Bank fee of $503,500,
Miami man, sought in connection with Katama break-in, captured
A Miami man sought by Edgartown police in connection with a house break-in and firearms violations in Katama earlier this month was apprehended in Miami, following a car and foot chase through the city on Feb. 9, according to police.
Jorge Manuel Alvarez, 17, allegedly broke into an unoccupied Katama residence on Feb. 5 and fired bullets into the walls of that house and nearby unoccupied dwellings.
In addition to the Katama break-in, Mr. Alvarez was wanted in connection with a home invasion and armed robbery in Miami. Until they were contacted by Edgartown police in connection with the Edgartown break-in, Miami police had been unable to identify Mr. Alvarez as a suspect in those crimes.
Sgt. Tony Bettencourt of the Edgartown police department said that Miami police apprehended Mr. Alvarez with the help of an informant and by tracking a pre-paid cell phone that Mr. Alvarez was using.
On Feb. 9, Miami police staked out a house where they believed Mr. Alvarez was going to meet a friend. When Mr. Alvarez arrived at the residence, he spotted the officers and fled in a stolen car that he was driving. Police chased Mr. Alvarez and his passenger through the city. The car chase ended abruptly when one of Mr. Alvarez's tires blew out.
Mr. Alvarez and his passenger jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot. Police continued the chase, which led to a small lake. Determined to escape, the two suspects jumped into the water and swam to the opposite shore.
Police K9 units were used to track the two men to a thicket of bushes. Both men were arrested without further incident.
Mr. Alvarez is currently being held without bail in a Florida juvenile detention center. He faces a list of charges in connection with two burglaries, stolen firearms and a home invasion where he allegedly stole a car. Mr. Alvarez is scheduled to appear in court on March 17.
Sergeant Bettencourt said that police believe that the man arrested with Mr. Alvarez, who was not identified, was one of the three people, along with Mr. Alvarez, who broke into the house in Katama. Police are also searching for a woman who was also allegedly involved.
Edgartown police have charged Mr. Alvarez in connection with the Katama break-in. Sergeant Bettencourt said that his department is continuing to investigate the incident and could file additional charges.
West Tisbury ballot grows
Last year the only contested race in the annual West Tisbury town election was for tree warden. Times change. The intervening year has been marked by political controversy and passionate opinions, and interest in serving in the West Tisbury town government has grown. Races for selectman, assessor, and two finance committee members will be contested on the April 13 ballot, and there are several persons interested in being appointed to fill out the final year of Raymond Houle's term on the board of assessors, according to town clerk Prudence Whiting. The deadline for filing nomination papers is today.
As of yesterday, there were no new candidates for selectmen in the race in which former selectmen James Alley will challenge incumbent Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter.
Jonathan Revere and selectman Glenn Hearn are so far the only candidates who will oppose incumbent Michael Colaneri for a three-year term on the board of assessors. Assessor Raymond Houle resigned as of February 10, but the one year remaining on his term will not appear on the April ballot, because, according to executive secretary Jennifer Rand, his resignation left fewer than the 64 days needed to complete the required advertising for a temporary successor, appointing that person, and meeting the deadline for ballot nominations. However, several persons have submitted letters of interest in the 14-month appointment, including Cynthia Riggs, Joan Ames, Ann Nelson, and former selectmen John Alley and Cynthia Mitchell. The remaining assessors and the selectmen will jointly make that appointment, perhaps as early as next week.
However, there will be two spots on the April ballot for the finance committee (FinCom). Incumbent Peter Costas has decided not to run for reelection. As of yesterday, three persons have filed nomination papers for his seat, a three-year term: Daniel Pace, Jonathan Klaren, and Richard Knabel.
The second spot was created when Jim Powell resigned from the FinCom, effective only two days before Mr. Houle's resignation. The earlier resignation, outside the 64 days needed, allows for the process to be completed in order to include his two-year seat in the April election, according to Ms. Rand. Ms. Whiting said yesterday that two persons had picked up nomination papers for the two-year term, but had not yet returned them. The deadline is today.
For all town elections, it is possible to mount a write-in campaign.
The April 11 town meeting warrant closed on Feb. 21. In addition to other town business, the warrant already contained three articles placed there by citizens' petition, two concerning the town hall project and one proposing to ban holding more than one elected position on key town boards. All three should provoke debate. This week a fourth citizens' petition made its way to the warrant. This one, delivered by writer Cynthia Riggs, asks the voters to create the honorary office of poet laureate of West Tisbury, to be appointed annually by the selectmen. That discussion may provide a few moments of calm in what is likely to be a contentious forum.
Hospice offers training course for volunteers
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard will be holding a Volunteer Training Program for community members interested in working with patients and families facing advanced illness and loss.
The nine-week course begins on March 22nd and will meet in the Martha's Vineyard Hospital medical staff library every Wednesday from 6 to 8 pm.
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard provides emotional, spiritual, physical, and medical support for people with life-ending illnesses, and for their families. Hospice care on Martha's Vineyard is provided free of charge and without many of the encumbrances experienced in communities where it is an insured health benefit and thus subject to Medicare or other insurers' rules and regulations.
People interested in joining Hospice's volunteer team should contact the Hospice office at 508-693-0189 by March 6.
Coast Guardsman receives service ribbon
US Coast Guard petty officer William Crowley of Springfield, a member of Coast Guard Station Menemsha received authorization to wear the Coast Guard Operations Service Ribbon for his service in in support for the Democratic National Convention Unified Command in July 2004.