News in Brief
MVC changes venue for Veira Park, Edgartown DCPC public hearings
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) has changed tonight's meeting location to the Oak Bluffs Senior Center at 21 Wamsutta Avenue in anticipation of a larger than usual crowd for the start of two public hearings. One concerns a proposed expansion of Veira Park in Oak Bluffs and the other a nomination to add five ancient ways to Edgartown's Island Road District.
During the first hearing at 7:30 pm, the MVC will consider the nomination of designated parts of Ben Tom's Road, Middle Line Path, Pennywise Path, Tar Kiln Path, and Watcha Path for addition to Edgartown's Island Road District, a district of critical planning concern (DCPC). The Edgartown selectmen and Edgartown planning board agreed to refer the nomination of the five byways to the MVC on July 30, citing a need to protect the five ancient pathways, which date back to the 1600s and 1700s.
The commission voted unanimously to accept the nomination for consideration on August 9.
A second public hearing, scheduled to begin at 8:45 pm, concerns the expansion of facilities at Veira Park in Oak Bluffs. The MVC will review a proposal to add another baseball field to the park with batting cages, play area, new dugouts, viewing stands, picnic area, fences, and parking as a development of regional impact.
At the Oak Bluffs annual town meeting in April, voters appropriated $200,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the project. The issue returned to voters following a campaign to put a request to rescind funding on the special town meeting warrant by park abutters who opposed the project. At a special town meeting in June, Oak Bluffs voted 89-80 not to rescind town funding for the Little League proposal. The Oak Bluffs selectmen referred the project to the MVC for review as a DRI.
Paul Foley, the MVC's DRI planner, said the MVC received results yesterday of a traffic study of the area around Veira Park on South Circuit Ave. and Naushon Ave.
Information about both the Veira Park project and the nomination of five paths to Edgartown's DCPC are available online at the MVC's web site, www.mvcommission.org.
Aquinnah lifts resident parking rules for Derby
In a special meeting called two days before the start of the 62nd Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, the Aquinnah selectmen Friday voted to suspend resident-only parking restrictions in the town during the five-week fishing tournament. The vote was unanimous.
Lobsterville Beach is a popular fishing spot. Bonito and false albacore sometimes race along the beach providing exciting sport for beach fishermen.
There is also a public launching ramp that provides access to Menemsha Pond and the west end of the Island. The town currently designates approximately half of the parking spots along the beach for residents.
Tisbury plans public hearing on parking fines
The Tisbury selectmen will hold a public hearing at 6 pm on Sept. 18 on a proposal to increase parking fines. The hearing will take place during their regularly scheduled meeting at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.
At a meeting last month, Dukes County parking clerk Carol Grant told the selectmen that the state has increased the maximum fee allowable for parking tickets to $50. Currently, the fee for parking in a restricted area in Tisbury is $15. The fine for infractions such as parking longer than a posted time limit, too far from the curb, or in the wrong direction is $10. In Tisbury, for the month of July, ticket fines for parking overtime amounted to $5,830 and fines for parking in restricted areas to $4,530.
In a follow-up discussion at a meeting last week, the Tisbury selectmen agreed that parking fines should be increased, because the current fines are not high enough to serve as a deterrent. For the purpose of discussion at the Sept. 18 public hearing, they will propose increasing $10 parking fines to $20 and $15 fines to $25. The selectmen also discussed the possibility of imposing parking fines that accrue hourly.
The selectmen encouraged everyone who is concerned about a parking fine increase to attend the hearing and voice an opinion.
Oak Bluffs police chase driver in stolen vehicle
Oak Bluffs police officer Jeff Trudel was on routine patrol early yesterday morning when he saw a man drive a vehicle over a sidewalk and into a driveway near the corner of Wing Road and Franklin Avenue at 1:09 am. The man pulled out of the driveway and continued down the road driving erratically, Officer Trudel said.
With his cruiser lights flashing, Officer Trudel signaled for the driver to stop. But as the officer left his police cruiser and approached the driver's side door the man sped off in the direction of the Oak Bluffs fire station, according to Lt. Tim Williamson. Officer Trudel began a pursuit of the vehicle and called for backup. Officer Germaine Mendez responded.
The police officers were able to box in the vehicle when the driver pulled into the fire station parking lot. The driver appeared to be highly intoxicated, and a check of the vehicle revealed that it had been stolen late Monday night from Pequot Avenue in Oak Bluffs, where it had been left with the keys inside.
Police arrested Clemens A. Fraize, 38, of Elm Street, Amesbury on a long list of motor vehicle charges that included operating under the influence (second offence), failure to stop for the police, negligent operation, marked lanes and stop sign violations, unlicensed operation, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.
Lieutenant Williamson said that Mr. Fraize is a construction worker who received a so-called "Cinderella," or hardship, license in connection with an earlier driving conviction in March that allows him to operate a vehicle from 6 am to 6 pm in order to work.
"The officers did a great job bringing this to a safe and quick conclusion," said Lieutenant Williamson.
Oak Bluffs assessor granted flextime
After two amendments, the Oak Bluffs selectmen on Tuesday approved the personnel board's recommendation to grant flexible work hours to principal assessor Dianne Wilson, until April 30. They also voted to develop a flextime policy for all town employees.
In May, Ms. Wilson had requested a change to her work schedule, from five to three days a week, because she is moving off-Island this week. The selectmen asked the personnel board to review the request, which was a first from a full-time employee.
The personnel board recommended the flextime policy be developed in time for a vote at the April annual town meeting. The board estimated the cost of developing the policy would be $3,000, for professional human resources policy assistance. It also suggested that the short-term flextime agreement with the assessor be re-evaluated at the end of this year.
The personnel board recommended that Ms. Wilson's request for the flexible hours be granted only through the end of this year, "to give the town time to complete the tri-annual real estate revaluation and to more extensively backfill the assessor's critical skills," according to the report presented by Mimi Davisson of the personnel board.
"This is a recommendation with the desire to help an employee and is not to be precedent setting," Ms. Davisson concluded in her presentation.
The selectmen agreed that a flextime policy is necessary, but selectman Gregory Coogan called the Dec. 31 date "an artificial deadline," and moved to amend it to June 30. He asked that if the flextime plan works, "Why not continue it past Dec. 31?"
Mr. Coogan expressed his concern that the town could lose the assessor. "I don't want to see us left without a competent assessor," he said. "We need competence, and it's a huge mistake to mess with that."
The selectmen rejected Mr. Coogan's amendment, although selectman Duncan Ross voted with him. Kerry Scott, Ron DiOrio, and Roger Wey voted no. Mr. Ross objected to Mr. Wey's voting because, he said, "As a town employee, Mr. Wey shouldn't vote on any town issue." Mr. Wey is director of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging.
Jack Law, chairman of the assessors, also strongly objected to the Dec. 31 deadline for the assessor's flextime, saying it looked as if the selectmen were using Ms. Wilson to complete the triannual revaluation and send out taxes, and then would let her go. He said the town had spent more than $30,000 to train Ms. Wilson. "If I were the assessor, I wouldn't take it," he said. "It just doesn't look right."
Ms. Davisson said the personnel board had considered several dates for an evaluation, and setting Dec. 31 was not "necessarily an attempt to say you're out the door."
After more discussion on the issue, the selectmen agreed unanimously to grant the assessor's flextime through April 30, which would follow a town meeting vote.
The personnel board's recommendations also included several conditions for Ms. Wilson. They included requiring her to work at the town hall on the same days as the finance director, to be available by cell phone when she is off-site during regular working hours, to not work alone in the town hall after 4:30 pm, and not have the assessor's office open after 4:30.
The board also said the principal assessor and town administrator will assure that the assessor's office is adequately staffed to deal with town residents' and taxpayers' issues during regular town hall hours.
Ms. Wilson has agreed to pay for her commuting costs, and has not asked for any additional compensation.
A four-car accident occurred around 1:25 pm Saturday near the Lagoon Pond drawbridge on the Oak Bluffs side when a car driven by Lucia Oliveira of Edgartown struck a line of cars stopped in traffic.
Cynthia McGrath of Vineyard Haven, who was in the first car in the line with her husband, Kevin, said they had just picked up a takeout lunch at the Net Result and were heading to Eastville Beach in their 1995 Pathfinder. Mr. McGrath put his left-hand turn signal on and stopped to yield to oncoming traffic before making a left into the beach parking lot.
In the meantime, the driver of a 1997 Volvo sedan stopped behind the McGraths, followed in turn by a 2007 Honda Odyssey with a driver and three passengers. Ms. McGrath said she was looking in the rear-view mirror as the 2005 Ford Explorer driven by Ms. Oliveira came off the drawbridge and failed to stop, hitting the Honda. The Honda in turn hit the Volvo ahead of it, which was pushed into the McGraths' Nissan.
Fortunately, Ms. McGrath said, the spare tire mounted on the back of their Pathfinder cushioned the impact. Neither the tire nor their car was damaged. They felt a jolt, but both were wearing seatbelts and neither was hurt, she added.
"It was the one day we had a babysitter for our four-year-old son, and we were looking forward to some time alone together at the beach," Ms. McGrath said. "We were glad we didn't have him in the car and that he was safe at home with his grandparents. We just felt lucky we were okay and so bad for the people behind us."
Oak Bluffs Lt. Timothy Williamson said that Oak Bluffs firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel responded to the accident, along with Oak Bluffs police officers Jeff Trudel and Steven Pupek. Five people were transported by ambulance to Martha's Vineyard Hospital, with mutual aid provided by Tisbury EMS. However, no one was seriously injured, Lt. Williamson said.
State Trooper Robert Branca also provided assistance, as did Tisbury police officer Daniel Hanavan. Officer Trudel issued a citation to Ms. Oliveira, age 45, for failure to use caution.
Traffic was tied up for about 40 minutes in order to clean up the scene and tow away three cars, Lt. Williamson said.
Volunteer group announces
The Martha's Vineyard Special Parents Association has formally changed its name to Vineyard Independence Partnership (VIP).
Founded in 1983, VIP is a partnership of individuals with disabilities, their family members, and friends who work to promote social activities, support independent living situations, encourage accessibility in the community, and advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, according to a press release.
VIP is a volunteer-operated nonprofit corporation that welcomes new members. The group meets every other month throughout the school year. For more information, contact executive director Clark Hanjian at 508-693-5453.
New vision for former Denniston property
The first African-American church on the Island, in imminent danger of demolition, was saved this summer when the Island Affordable Housing Fund (IAHF) struck a deal with the heirs of Oscar K. Denniston to purchase the 115-year-old building and turn it into a multi-use cultural center, with affordable housing units on the upper floors.
The project will now be known as Bradley Square, according to a press release. Supporters plan to celebrate the start of its pre-construction phase with an open house during the Oak Bluffs Arts District Art Stroll Saturday, from 4 to 7 pm. The public will have the opportunity to meet the architects, Hutker Architects, and members of the design committee.
The church, at the corner of Masonic and Dukes County avenues, opened its doors 100 years ago this summer as the Bradley Memorial Church, named in honor of Susan Bradley, with whom the Reverend Denniston had worked at the same location, then known as the Oakland Mission, to help recent immigrants to the Island. For 50 years the church, the first African-American church on Martha's Vineyard, was an integral part of the thriving African-American community.
The Island Affordable Housing Fund purchased the building in order to restore the grand building, creating a multi-use cultural space downstairs while designing affordable residential units in the Denniston family quarters above.
According to a press release, the site also allows for the addition of at least one other building that is envisioned as affordable work/ living space for Island artists. "A courtyard, ample off-street parking, and open space will surround this community of pedestrian-friendly galleries and home sites," said the release.
Island Housing Trust's executive director Philippe Jordi will oversee the development of the project. Fund-raising is under the purview of Island Affordable Housing Fund's executive director Pat Manning. For more information, contact the Housing Fund office at 508-696-0943 or online at islandaffordable.org.
The Oak Bluffs community preservation committee (CPC) announced that application forms are now available to request Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for projects for historic preservation, affordable housing, and open space/recreation in 2008/2009.
Requests for proposals will be accepted through October 5, 2007 according to a press release.
CPA funds are raised by a three percent surcharge on property taxes. The committee estimates that available funding for community projects for fiscal year 2009, which begins on July 1, 2008, will exceed $700,000.
Eligible projects must be designed to acquire, create, and preserve land for recreational use or open space; acquire, preserve, rehabilitate, and restore historic resources; or create, preserve, and support community housing.
CPC members are appointed by the selectmen to review and recommend how CPA revenues can best be spent in Oak Bluffs. The committee will screen all applications for eligibility, review funding requests, and make recommendations to voters at annual town meeting for final approval, according to a press release.
Town boards, nonprofits, for-profit organizations and individuals are eligible to apply. Application forms are available in the building department office in Town Hall and online at www.ci.oak-bluffs.ma.us (click on the Building Department on the web site).
For more information about the application process or the CPA, contact Adam Wilson, CPC administrator at 508-693-3554, extension 123. Requests for Proposals can be submitted to Mr. Wilson in the Building Department Office, 56 School Street, through Oct. 4, 2007 at 4 pm.
to focus on
Cape Wind project
If you are confused about Cape Wind, the wind turbine energy project proposed for shallow waters in Nantucket Sound approximately nine miles from Edgartown, you are not alone.
Since the project was unveiled by a private energy company in 2001, it has been the subject of regulatory skirmishes, heated political bickering, and lately, an expensive advertising battle.
The picture may become clearer on Thursday, Sept. 20, when the Vineyard Haven Public Library sponsors a public information session at the Katharine Cornell Theater. The forum, part of the library's Evening Lecture Series, will begin at 7 pm.
Judy Crawford, former president of the League of Women Voters of Martha's Vineyard, will moderate a discussion. Representing Energy Management Inc., the wind project's developers, will be Mark Rodgers. Representing opponents of Cape Wind will be Audra Parker, of the Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound.
Organizers hope to step back from the well-publicized positions for and against the energy project and examine how it fits into larger questions about alternative energy needs, conservation, environmental impact, safety, and affordability.
Their goal, they say, is to help Island residents come to an informed opinion on a project that could have a significant impact on the region for many decades to come.
New Massachusetts abandoned property list available
Many Martha's Vineyard residents and businesses may discover a few forgotten dollars by checking the state's updated inventory of abandoned property released last week by State Treasurer Timothy Cahill. The abandoned property list - available, online at www.findmassmoney.com - contains more than 250 listings for Martha's Vineyard, including 15 for Aquinnah, 42 for Tisbury, and more than 50 each for Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and West Tisbury.
Abandoned property includes forgotten savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, dividends and the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. After three years of no customer-generated activity, many accounts are considered abandoned and turned over to the state treasury.
About 40,000 individuals and businesses in Massachusetts have unclaimed abandoned property that could be returned to them. To file a claim, they should start by calling the State Treasury's Abandoned Property Division at 617-367-0400 or toll-free within Massachusetts at 1-800-647-2300, or send a letter to the Department of the State Treasurer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Abandoned Property Division, One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor, Boston, MA 02108-1608.
With the new names, there are now more than 4 million accounts in the state's abandoned property database, according to a press release from the State House News Service. There is no time limit to claim abandoned property, and in many cases, claimants receive interest.
A news story published Aug. 6, "Oak Bluffs School worker charged with embezzlement," reported that principal Laury Binney is on a one-year sabbatical. He is on an unpaid leave of absence.
In last week's 55 Plus, information about the Music Appreciation class at the Tisbury Senior Center should have announced six classes, beginning Monday, Sept. 17, at 1:30 pm, and continuing to Oct. 29.