News in Brief
Vineyard SSA member wants to mitigate rate hikes
The Martha's Vineyard member of the Steamship Authority (SSA) board met with members of boatline management yesterday to talk about ways to reduce next year's proposed rate hikes, but they found there is little room for flexibility.
Last month the SSA board reviewed proposed rate hikes designed to make up a $4 million shortfall in the boatline's 2007 operating budget, $3 million of which must be generated on the Vineyard side of the ledger.
The proposal, which was included as part of a $72,668,000 budget presented to the members at their monthly meeting in Hyannis, called for across-the-board rate hikes on the Vineyard route. The biggest increases would be in the discounted excursion fares now enjoyed by year-round Islanders and for annual parking permits in Woods Hole.
The board meets Thursday, Oct. 26, at 9:30 am in the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. Management is expected to ask the board to approve the budget.
Marc Hanover of Oak Bluffs, Vineyard SSA member, said yesterday that he met with management in an effort to find additional savings in the budget in order to lessen fare increases. What he learned is that the costs associated with a new boat and existing labor agreements provide little room for savings.
Mr. Hanover said he told management he would not vote for an increase next year. Over the long term, Mr. Hanover said the SSA must become more efficient and he hoped to be able to work with union representatives to find additional savings.
Mr. Hanover said that in the past, yearly increases in ridership alleviated the need for fare hikes but with traffic flat or down in some categories the SSA will face the need to continually raise fares unless it finds ways to mitigate costs.
Mr. Hanover said that management has done a very good job in many areas, saving fuel and increasing capacity on the freight boats, for instance. Labor is the one area that must be addressed he said if cost are going to be brought under control.
Under the current budget proposal, the cost of a one-way adult passenger ticket would rise from $6 to $6.50. The ferry embarkation fee would add an additional 50 cents, bringing the cost of a round-trip ticket to $14.
Regular one-way Vineyard auto rates in season for vehicles under 17 feet would increase by $3, from $62 to $65, and from $72 to $75 for vehicles over 17 feet. Off-season rates would rise by $2 from $38 to $40 and from $48 to $50, respectively.
Discounted Vineyard round-trip auto excursion rates for Island residents would jump by $10 in season and $7 off season. Off-Island trips would cost $52 off season and $83 in season, for vehicles less than 17 feet, and $72 and $103 for those over that length.
The Vineyard commercial vehicle rate for vehicles over 20 feet would increase by 8.5 percent.
The annual parking permit for treasured Woods Hole spots would rise from $750 to $800. The cost of a Palmer Avenue lot annual parking permit would jump from $550 to $575.
Tisbury selectmen set special town meeting date
At their board meeting Tuesday night, The Tisbury selectmen voted to hold a special town meeting on December 12 to seek voters' approval for funding and site selection for a new emergency services facility, and for funding for reconstruction of the Water Street parking lot next to the Stop & Shop grocery store in Vineyard Haven.
After hearing a proposal from Gene Erez of Cornerstore Construction, the selectmen approved his plans to demolish a building located at 12 Spring Street. Mr. Erez said he will need to close Spring Street up to William Street for one day for the demolition phase, and close the street again for two half days during construction of a new building at the site.
The project will take place during the next two to three weeks, depending on the weather. Mr. Erez agreed to provide 48 hours notice to the neighborhood and pay for a detail police officer when the street is closed.
The selectmen also finished discussions from several weeks ago regarding proposed changes in Tisbury's taxicab regulations. Although selectmen Tristan Israel and Denys Wortman thought rates should be standardized and Tom Pachico did not, they all agreed it was an issue to discuss at a public hearing they will hold regarding all of the proposed regulation changes on November 14.
In other business, the selectmen approved proposed regulations for a new dog park off Holmes Hole Road, which will be opened at the end of October or early November.
In department reports, building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick told the selectmen he approved the setbacks for plans to erect a meteorological data collection tower on town property near the landfill. Since no public hearing is necessary, Henry Stephenson, a member of the town's renewable energy committee, said the tower will go up as soon as possible so that data may be collected for one year to determine whether there is sufficient wind to run an energy-producing turbine in that vicinity.
Police Chief John Cashin said candidates for a new police officer have been narrowed to two. He suggested making conditional offers of employment to both. The selectmen will interview both candidates next week, depending on their availability.
The selectmen will meet tonight at 7 pm with the Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom) at the Tisbury Senior Center to begin budget discussions for fiscal year 2008.
Complete warrant passed at Oak Bluffs special
A total of 83 Oak Bluffs voters, 33 more than needed for a quorum, convened Tuesday in a special town meeting. They approved all 13 of the questions before them.
Voters agreed to the purchase and finance of a $757,576 aerial fire truck, the purchase of land along Pennsylvania Ave. for wastewater expansion property, and to the transfer $25,000 from free cash into the stabilization fund.
Town administrator Michael Dutton said the one article that was cause for back and forth discussion was the transfer of $40,000 from free cash to cover engineering costs for the reconstruction of the East Chop bluff. Mr. Dutton said some voters were concerned about the amount the East Chop Association would be contributing to the project. He said some conversation ensued, and the article passed in its original language.
Also approved: $105,000 for three new police cruisers; $5,000 in supplies and training for the Community Emergency Response team; and $609 in salary for the Oak Bluffs School's softball coach.
MVC updates regional transportation plan
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) held a public forum at noon on Tuesday in Oak Bluffs in the Old Stone Building, as part of an effort to update its 2003 Regional Transportation Plan.
MVC executive director Mark London, who chaired the meeting, explained that the Massachusetts Highway Department and Federal Highway Administration require that the regional transportation plan be updated every three years.
The plan is used to formulate transportation improvement projects every year and to identify special projects over the next 25 years, Mr. London said. Projects must be in the plan in order for the Island to receive project funding each year from the Massachusetts Highway Department.
About 15 people attended the forum, including representatives from several town agencies and a few members of the public. Mr. London asked everyone present to act as an advisory committee and to comment on the draft plan, which he hopes to have available in the first week of November.
Mr. London provided a quick Power-Point overview of the 2003 report and proposed revisions, allowing time for comments and questions afterwards. He pointed to the successful expansion of Vineyard Transit Authority bus service to year-round and a better working relationship with the Steamship Authority as some of the accomplishments made since 2003.
Seasonal fluctuations make it challenging to plan for Martha's Vineyard's regional transportation needs, Mr. London said. Unfortunately, the state's funding formulas for road and highway improvements often are based on year-round population numbers, which puts the Vineyard at a disadvantage since it needs the infrastructure to support a much larger summer population.
The regional transportation plan addresses air, water, bus, taxi, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation, as well as a regional transportation network, intermodal transportation, the Island's road network, and traffic.
Although much of the 2003 regional transportation may remain unchanged, the bicycle and pedestrian section will be changed considerably in the new draft, Mr. London said. One of the new objectives is to complete a network of multi-user, off-road paths for bicyclists and pedestrians to link the Island towns.
A second public hearing on the plan will be held at the MVC offices in the Old Stone Building in Oak Bluffs on Nov. 14, 5 pm.
elects new directors
The Martha's Vineyard Mediation Program announced the election of longtime Vineyard residents Dan Hanavan and Art Smadbeck to the nonprofit's board of directors at their annual meeting in September.
Mr. Smadbeck is a realtor and Edgartown selectman. Mr. Hanavan is a 17-year veteran of the Tisbury Police Department.
The mediators also re-elected President Ron Mechur of Oak Bluffs, Vice President Judy Salosky of Vineyard Haven, Treasurer Robert Fokos of Chilmark, Secretary Sheila Shapiro of West Tisbury, and Jane Thayer of Oak Bluffs as at-large Executive Committee member. Louisa Williams is the organization's executive director.
The program members also celebrated the news that the organization's state funding will increase to $40,000 this fiscal year, thanks to the strong support of Rep. Eric Turkington and Sen. Robert O'Leary, according to a press release.
The mediation program was founded in 1984 and handles cases from the community as well as those referred by the Edgartown District Court and the Probate and Family Court. For more information about mediation or the Martha's Vineyard Mediation Program, check mvmediation.org or call 508-693-2999.
Vineyard Complementary Medicine sponsors back pain seminar
Vineyard Complementary Medicine will offer a free seminar for healthcare practitioners and residents on the subject of managing back pain from 5 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, Oct. 26.
According to a press release, topics will include pain management, proper posture, and movement strategies to avoid back injuries and stretching for a healthy back.
Vineyard Complementary Medicine, Inc. is located at 489 State Road, West Tisbury. For more information, call 508-693-3800.
Falmouth Academy holds open house
Falmouth Academy will hold an open house for families interested in learning more about the academically rigorous, independent day school for college-bound students in grades 7 - 12 on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 2 to 4 pm.
Director of admissions Michael Early and teachers will be available to discuss academics, arts electives, sports, and extracurricular school life. Headmaster David Faus will talk about the school's financial aid program.
Tours will include the new 15,000-square-foot addition, which includes a library, computer lab, and science labs.
Call 508-457-9696 or visit our www.falmouthacademy.org for more information.
In last week's article about the play "This Island Alone," the name of the last member of the Island deaf community should have been Kate West.