News in Brief
Photo by Tim Twombly
Accidental boat launch
at Tisbury intersection
Traffic was tied up for about 40 minutes around 8:10 am last Friday when a 25-foot sailboat being hauled by a pickup truck from Martha's Vineyard Shipyard slid off its trailer at the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road. Martha's Vineyard Shipyard owner Phil Hale said the boat sustained about $50 in damage. No one was injured and no other cars were involved in the accident, according to Tisbury police chief John Cashin. Tisbury police officer Timothy Stobie responded to the call. He and the truck driver checked the trailer, which appeared to be in good condition. However, they found that the bow eye was missing from the boat, which probably had worked loose and caused the boat to slip from the trailer, Chief Cashin said.
Tisbury police host bike safety day for Island kids
The Tisbury police department will host a bicycle safety day for Island children in grades K-8 on Sunday, from 11 am to 1 pm, in the parking lot behind Tisbury School on Spring Street.
In addition to a bicycle safety check, children will learn riding safety tips, such as how to cross an intersection safely, and sharpen their maneuvering skills by riding through a serpentine obstacle course. Always a crowd-pleaser in years past, radar used by the Tisbury police will clock children's bike-riding speeds.
The first 50 children who sign in will receive a free bike helmet and tee-shirt. In addition, all who complete the bike obstacle course will be entered in a free raffle for a chance to win one of three Trek bicycles that will be given away, one donated by Cycle Works and the other two purchased with grant money. To refuel the young cyclists, free chips, soda, hot dogs and hamburgers will be served.
Cycle Works owner John Stephenson will offer bike inspections, brake checks, and helmet adjustments, as time allows.
The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 30, at the same time and place. For questions, contact the Tisbury police department, 508-696-4240.
Bicycle safety day is sponsored by the Tisbury Police Relief Association.
Medflight helicopter disabled by loose tarp
A Boston MedFlight helicopter crew on final approach to the helipad behind Martha's Vineyard Hospital Friday night at 9:30 pm had a scare when the blades of the main rotor sucked in a loose tarp.
There were no injuries, and the helicopter was not damaged, State Police Lieutenant Bob Moore said.
Another helicopter was dispatched within 15 minutes, according to Andy Farkas, MedFlight chief operations manager. That helicopter landed at Trade Wind field, a grass landing strip a short drive from the hospital.
Mr. Farkas said it appears that the tarp came from one of the buildings being demolished as part of the hospital reconstruction. He said MedFlight spoke to hospital administrators, and a plan is now in place to be certain loose material is secured.
The helicopter remained on the landing pad located behind the hospital until Saturday when a Medflight mechanic was brought in to check the aircraft to be certain it was in good working condition.
For now, helicopters will land at the Martha's Vineyard Airport. Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, said that due to the amount of construction activity hospital officials think it's wisest to move to the airport.
Under normal circumstances, an ambulance must be used to transfer a patient the short distance from the ER to the helipad behind the hospital. The relocated landing pad will add about ten minutes to the trip. Mr. Walsh said the hospital would work with MedFlight to maintain the speed and safety of patient transfers.
Boston MedFlight transports more than 300 patients a year off the Island.
Court rejects yacht owner's claim to Menemsha dockage
In a decision handed down Tuesday, a Middlesex Superior Court judge rejected a claim by a long-time Menemsha Harbor transient boat visitor that he had a grandfathered right to continue to dock his 70-foot Hatteras yacht in excess of the time period allowed by Chilmark Harbor regulations.
Unable to secure a long-term summer slip, Paul DeJesus of Reading filed a lawsuit in January naming as defendants the town of Chilmark and J. B. Riggs Parker, both in his capacity as a selectman and individually. Mr. Parker has played a lead role in drafting new harbor regulations and pushing for consistent enforcement.
The heart of the lawsuit was the application of harbor regulations governing the length of time visiting boaters may remain at a slip in the highly desirable harbor.
Town regulations adopted by the board of selectmen in 1996 limit tie-ups for transient boats to 14 days between July 1 and Labor Day, and require that boaters leave for one week before they can request dockage again.
In an 18-page complaint, lawyers for Mr. DeJesus, a harbor visitor since the summer of 1987, claimed that the town breached an agreement to allow Mr. DeJesus to remain in the harbor for four weeks; and by their "threats, intimidation and coercion" interfered with his rights "entitling him to injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and his attorneys' fees and costs."
The judge's decision came in response to a motion to dismiss filed by town attorney Ron Rappaport. In considering the motion, Associate Justice Dennis J. Curran made no finding as to the accuracy of the facts presented by Mr. Dejesus alleging some type of unwritten agreement to allow him to remain in the harbor.
Judge Curran said, "Reduced to its essence, he (Mr. DeJesus) seeks judicial exemption from the 2005 town regulations. This Court will not wade into such a political arena; his remedy lies elsewhere."
Yesterday, Mr. Parker told The Times, "I am very pleased that the town's regulations and its actions under those regulations has been upheld. This decision should help us maintain our master plan's vision for the future of Menemsha Harbor."
Yesterday, Mr. Rappaport told The Times, "I am pleased that the town's decisions have been upheld."
Late yesterday afternoon Mr. DeJesus told The Times that he was surprised by the judge's decision. He added, "We will appeal. We are not going away."
MVC expects crowd for ball field, byways public hearings
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) expects a larger than normal public turnout tonight when it turns its attention to a proposal to add a ball field in Viera Park in Oak Bluffs and a request to add five pathways considered ancient ways to Edgartown's Island Road District. As a result the MVC will meet tonight in the Oak Bluffs Senior Center at 21 Wamsutta Avenue.
The first public hearing at 7:30 pm is to consider the addition of designated parts of Ben Tom's Road, Middle Line Path, Pennywise Path, Tar Kiln Path, and Watcha Path to the existing 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 pathways.
A second public hearing, scheduled to begin at 8:45 pm, concerns a proposal to add another baseball field to the park with batting cages, play area, new dugouts, viewing stands, picnic area, fences, and parking that was named a development of regional impact.
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.
SSA wrestles with effect of fuel increase on budget
At the Steamship Authority monthly meeting Tuesday, board members listened to management outline the pressures on the boatline's 2008 operating budget.
Although a rate increase is not now projected, a hike in the cost of fuel could result in a small increase, according to a report of the meeting provided by SSA management.
SSA treasurer Bob Davis presented the draft operating budget for review and comments. The board will be asked to approve the budget when it meets on October 16 on the Vineyard in the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room.
Operating expenses are expected to increase by $3,380,000, or 4.8 percent. One of the major expenses is the cost of fuel.
The SSA estimates fuel costs will increase by $600,000, but that estimate is based on an oil price of $70 per barrel in 2008. Noting that crude prices are now more than $80 per barrel, the board asked management to revisit that assumption and budget accordingly.
The management report said that if the authority increases its estimated fuel oil expenses for next year "there may be a need for a relatively small rate increase."
Putting the global price of oil in perspective, Marc Hanover, Vineyard SSA member told The Times yesterday that every dollar the cost of a barrel of oil increases adds $96,000 to the SSA's operating costs.
Despite those pressures, Mr. Hanover said, "Management is doing a good job holding down costs and I don't anticipate a rate increase would be needed."
Labor costs will increase as well. According to the management report, wages are expected to increase by $923,000, or 3.3 percent; health care and pension costs are expected to increase by $450,000, or 6.1 percent; and payroll taxes are estimated to rise by $134,000, or 5.1 percent.
The board members also reviewed a draft of the 2008 summer and fall operating schedules. Management proposed that the 2008 summer schedule begin six days later than the 2007 schedule, from May 21, 2008 to October 17, 2008.
In one of several votes, the board agreed to change the excursion fare policy that will allow Island residents who are in active military service to travel on an excursion fare regardless of where the trip originates.
The board also heard an update on SSA capital projects that included the Oak Bluffs terminal reconstruction. Director of engineering Carl Walker said that RDA Construction will begin next week to drive piles on the north side of the pier to construct new staging lanes.
Oak Bluffs selectmen revoke Inkwell Beach renaming
Citing pleas from residents near Inkwell Beach, the Oak Bluffs selectmen last week revoked their decision to rename it Town Beach.
Selectman Duncan Ross, who made the motion to undo the action taken at the previous selectmen's meeting, said he had heard from several people after the decision. Some people told him the beach name is Seaview Park, not Town Beach. The residents also do not want a sign on the beach, Mr. Ross said, and he suggested the park department should name the beach.
Selectman Ron DiOrio agreed there should be no sign on the beach. He suggested the selectmen should revisit the name change.
Selectman chairman Kerry Scott said she also had heard from many people who indicated they didn't want the selectmen to rename the beach without their participation in the decision.
"It's an example of something we took up in haste," selectman Gregory Coogan said.
Times ends web site's Digital Edition feature
The last installment of the Digital Edition of The Times will be posted today on the newspaper's website, mvtimes.com. The Digital Edition, a facsimile of the print newspaper, complete with ads and photographs, has been for two years a regular feature of The Times web site, but it never caught on with web site visitors, according to Times editor Doug Cabral.
"The idea was that visitors would like to page through the Digital Edition the way they page through the newspaper in print, but in a typical week when more than 80,000 visitors came to mvtimes.com, barely one percent clicked on the Digital Edition," Mr. Cabral said. "We offered visitors the complete newspaper in HTML format, which we'll continue to do, and also in the Digital Edition format. Between the two, the HTML format was the runaway favorite."
Mr. Cabral explained that each week's entire newspaper contents, including classified ads, will continue to be available, at no charge to visitors, on The Times site, along with an accumulating archive of each edition of the paper.
A news brief published Sept. 13, "MVC changes venue for Veira Park, Edgartown DCPC public hearings," incorrectly listed the meeting as occurring on Sept. 13. The meeting will be held tonight, Sept. 20, at 7:30 pm at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center, 21 Wamsutta Avenue.
Oak Bluffs selectman Duncan Ross's statement about granting the assessor flextime, reported in a Sept. 13 news brief, should have said selectman Roger Wey "shouldn't vote on issues that pertain to town employees" instead of "vote on any town issue."