News in Brief
Ketch Destiny launched at MV Shipyard
Photo by Louisa Gould
About 300 family members, friends, and co-workers celebrated the launch of Rick Haslet's "Destiny" at Martha's Vineyard Shipyard in Vineyard Haven last Saturday at noon. The 42-foot sailboat is a ketch rig, a design that features a forward main mast taller than the mizzenmast, which is forward of the rudderpost.
For the past 15 years, Mr. Haslet, who lives on Chappaquiddick, has spent six months a year building the boat, with some help from friends and family from time to time. The other six months, he works at Martha's Vineyard Shipyard, overseeing quality control. "My boss, Phil Hale, has been more than generous in what he has enabled me to do," he said.
Photo by Louisa Gould
Mr. Haslet built the boat using composite construction, with an inch and a quarter of western red cedar and two layers of fiberglass inside and out put on with epoxy. A boat surveyor estimated last week that Mr. Haslet had invested over 50,000 hours of labor.
Mr. Haslet's wife Chrissie christened the boat with a bottle of Pusser's Rum, chosen for its maritime tradition as the official rum of the British Navy. They saved the champagne for a toast later, courtesy of a friend who provided 60 bottles.
The Haslets rode aboard the boat as it slid down the rails into Vineyard Haven Harbor bedecked with an U.S. flag on the starboard bow and a New Zealand ensign hung from the rail on the port bow in honor of Ms. Haslet's native country. Her father, Les Allan, delivered the ensign himself in a surprise visit from New Zealand, arranged for and paid for by several of the couple's friends.
After the launch, guests took turns going aboard the boat and enjoyed food provided by Fella Caters.
"Basically, everybody I care about in my life was here," Mr. Haslet said. "That made the whole day, the people. And to see all of our neighbors - Chappy must have gone up a couple of feet with everybody gone to the launch."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Note in a bottle ends up with local delivery
While boating in Lake Tashmoo on Saturday, Sept. 15, Daniel Feeney of Vineyard Haven spotted a glass bottle floating in the channel. He figured it was trash thrown into the water by someone on the beach and scooped it up. To his surprise, the Arizona lemon iced tea bottle contained a letter written in pencil on blue-lined white paper.
Dated Sept. 12, the letter began with the greeting, "Dear friend," and was signed by Ben Booker, a fourth-grader at Chilmark School. Ben, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe, wrote that he lives in Gay Head and was on his first trip aboard the Shenandoah, "a big boat that sails."
He and 12 classmates in Chilmark School's grade 4-5 class took the sailing trip the first week of school with teacher Jackie Guzalak, teaching assistant Holly Bellebuono, school nurse Janice Brown, and five parent volunteers to learn about life aboard a schooner, principal Diane Gandy said this week.
Ben's letter continued, "How old are you and where do you live? Hope to see you."
Mr. Feeney owns the Martha's Vineyard Family Campground on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Tisbury and serves as a Tisbury firefighter and lieutenant on the Engine #1 Haz-Mat Team. He dropped the bottle off at the Times last week, and when contacted later about the letter's contents, he said he was more than happy to let Ben know where he lives. As for his age, Mr. Feeney said, "I'm not telling."
When told in a phone call on Monday that Mr. Feeney found his bottle, Ben said he was not disappointed it was discovered close to home. In fact, he added, he was hoping he might find the bottle himself sometime while walking on a Vineyard beach.
Edgartown selectmen agree to private pond dredging
The Edgartown selectmen Monday approved a private foundation's use of the town's dredging permit to remove the sand delta in Edgartown Great Pond where the pond is opened to the ocean periodically. The foundation, comprising homeowners on the pond, will pay to bring the small dredge it has leased from California this fall and reimburse the town for the permitting and all other expenses.
The dredging is intended to improve and maintain the flow of water between the pond and the Atlantic Ocean and, in turn, improve the water quality in the pond.
The selectmen specified that the permit be used only for dredging the opening. Town administrator Pamela Dolby said the group would have to get its own permits in the future for any other work on the pond. "This is a good way to get them started," she said.
Tom Wallace, chairman of the Edgartown Great Pond advisory committee that supported the foundation's proposal, assured the selectmen of the group's intention.
"This equipment is just for the delta now," he said. "The opening is the only thing we're talking about today." He said the homeowners are anxious to get the equipment here this fall to test it out.
Mr. Wallace told the selectmen two weeks ago that the pond advisory committee members believe the pond's water quality is at an all-time low because sand that has built up in the pond chokes off the exchange of water soon after a manmade cut is made in the barrier beach between the pond and the ocean.
If the dredging is successful, the foundation may buy the small dredge for future use, Mr. Wallace told the selectmen two weeks ago, when the idea was proposed. The foundation members have pledged two-thirds of the half-million dollars to buy the equipment, he said. They have $150,000 in hand, with which to begin the work.
The dredging advisory committee and the shellfish committee both endorsed the project in the past two weeks. Norman Rankow, chairman of the dredge advisory committee, said last week that his committee accepted the foundation's proposal with some caveats. The committee wants the homeowners to bring any future proposals to the committee to make sure they fit the town's master plan and to keep the committee apprised of the status of the pond.
The dredge committee endorsed the idea of allowing a private foundation to do the dredging, as long as the town is reimbursed 100 percent, and "it's not a burden on the taxpayer base," Mr. Rankow said.
The town's permitting process would take precedence over private efforts, Mr. Rankow added. "We think all dredging is good dredging," he said. 'Their motives are 100 percent correct."
Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said Monday that the shellfish committee unanimously endorsed the foundation's plan.
Town counsel Ronald Rappaport is preparing an agreement with the foundation that holds the town harmless for various aspects of the project, Ms. Dolby said.
Oak Bluffs man arrested on third OUI offense
Oak Bluffs Police with assistance from State Police last week arrested a man on his third drunk driving charge whose license was already suspended for two years in connection with a prior offense.
According to Oak Bluffs police lieutenant Tim Williamson, at approximately 4 pm Wednesday officer Chris Wiggins and State Police officer Robert Branca were on the corner of Barnes Road and Alpine Avenue observing vehicles when they saw a Jeep veer off the road and back onto the road.
Officer Wiggins, who was standing next to his motorcycle, stepped into the road and ordered the driver to stop. The driver initially complied then accelerated, said lieutenant Williams.
Officer Branca pursued the man who police identified as John Green, 38, of Winemack Avenue, Oak Bluffs. According to police records at the time of his arrest Mr. Green's blood alcohol level was approximately three times the legal limit.
Police charged Mr. Green with operating under the influence, third offense, marked lane violation, operating after the suspension of license and refusing to stop for a police officer.
Bail was set at $500. Mr. Green is currently being held in the Dukes County Jail on a probation violation. He returns to court for a hearing on Sept. 28.
Oak Bluffs police make arrest in house break-in
Oak Bluffs police Friday arrested Leo Willoughby, 50, of Greenwood Ave. in Tisbury in connection with the theft of cash from a house on Elisha Lane in Oak Buffs.
According to police, Mr. Willoughby entered the house where he had previously done some work for Ralph Smith, the owner who was not home at the time, and took some cash from a drawer.
Mr. Smith reported the theft, and two witnesses who were eating lunch nearby identified Mr. Willoughby as the man they saw enter the house, according to Oak Bluffs Police lieutenant Tim Williamson.
The police search for Mr. Willoughby was made easier when Mr. Willoughby called Mr. Smith and asked to make arrangements to receive payment for some previous work. The arrangements were made, but Lieutenant Williamson met Mr. Willoughby instead of Mr. Smith.
Police charged Mr. Willoughby with breaking and entering in a building in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and larceny over $250 from a building. He was held on $2,000 bail.
Lieutenant Williamson said that police are investigating Mr. Willoughby's possible involvement in other area break-ins.
Chilmark Tax Rate to Rise
The Chilmark Board of Assessors project next year's tax rate to be $1.96 per $1,000 of valuation, a rise of nine cents over last year.
The selectmen voted Tuesday to apply the tax rate evenly across all five classes of property in the town. The actual rate will not be set until submitted and approved by the state.
"We scrutinized our expenses to the limit," said selectman Frank Fenner, "and we still have a nine cent increase. I find that a little disturbing."
The total assessed value of property in Chilmark increased by one percent, from $2,904,616,200 in Fiscal Year 2007, to $2,920,742,450 in fiscal year 2008, according to assistant assessor Pamela Bunker.
However, Ms. Bunker reported sale prices for Chilmark properties have been generally lower over the past year, resulting in a drop in the median assessment for single-family homes.
The median assessment for fiscal year 2007 was $1,303,750. In fiscal year 2008, it is $1,280,900.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, selectman voted to open the commercial oyster season, and the family bay scallop season, on Oct. 1.
Sengekontacket to reopen to shellfishing October 1
Sengekontacket Pond will be reopened for shellfishing Monday, after passing bacteria tests. Earlier tests had forced its closing in July, the Edgartown shellfish constable told the Edgartown selectmen Monday. Eel Pond also passed the tests for reopening.
Water samples taken by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries provided "good news," Mr. Bagnall said. He did not have the complete test results.
In July, the fisheries biologists told Edgartown and Oak Bluffs shellfish constables that Sengekontacket Pond would need to be closed to shellfishing as a result of sustained high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.
Mr. Bagnall also reported that the family scalloping season will open Oct. 1, although dragging will not be permitted in Cape Poge Bay until Oct. 28. The commercial season starts Nov. 1.
At the Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting Tuesday, Jerry McCarthy, the new president of Friends of Sengekontacket, was introduced and spoke briefly on behalf of the organization. He said the 30-year-old group is doing everything it can to save the pond, including fighting the state, bacteria and nitrogen. "We feel this body of water should be kept open in summer," he said. "We don't know where the pollution is from - possibly birds or leaking septic systems and cesspools." He asked for the selectmen's support on the issue.
The state has reclassified the saltwater pond, connected to Nantucket Sound by two channels spanned by bridges, as a "conditionally approved area." Shellfishing is now only allowed from Oct. 1 to May 31, until further notice.
Dominion offers short-term reduced electricity rates
Dominion, a Virginia-based energy company, recently mailed a special reduced electricity rate offer of 8.67 cents per kilowatt-hour to residential customers on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. According to a press release from Dominion, the rate is 20 percent less than Cape Light Compact's (CLC) residential rate and NSTAR's basic fixed rate and is guaranteed through a customer's December read date.
The price does not include charges for energy distribution and transmission, which are handled by NSTAR.
The offer is limited to 7,000 customers, with a deadline of Oct. 6 to sign up. Customers who received the mailing may enroll by returning the reply card in the postage-paid envelope. Those who did not receive the mailing can enroll online at http:retail.dom.com or call 1-866-275-4243.
Customers may cancel at any time by calling the same number. There is no cancellation fee, according to Dan Donovan, Dominion's manager of media relations.
Most Vineyard residents are members of CLC and currently receive their energy supply through ConEdison Solutions at a rate of 10.99 cents per kilowatt-hour through January 2008. Customers who opted out of CLC for NSTAR as their supplier will pay 10.83 cents per kilowatt-hour through December 2007.
Although CLC does not require advance notice or charge customers a fee for opting out, the compact may not allow customers to rejoin it later, because the electrical supply is linked to a base number of customers. NSTAR also does not require advance notice from customers who opt out or charge them a cancellation fee.
In the Cape and Vineyard areas, Dominion currently has about 14,000 residential customers and 560 commercial customers, Mr. Donovan said.
DCPC hearing, postpones vote
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) traveled rough terrain at a public hearing on Sept. 20, to consider whether to expand the boundary of Edgartown's Island Road District to include sections of five pathways considered "ancient ways." Confusion over the use, protection, and definition of ancient ways, coupled with emotional testimony from abutting property owners, led the MVC to close the hearing and to postpone deliberations and a decision until Oct. 4, to allow the commissioners more time to consider the issues.
The MVC accepted the nomination of designated parts of Ben Tom's Road, Middle Line Path, Pennywise Path, Tar Kiln Road, and Watcha Path by the Edgartown Planning Board to the existing district of critical planning concern (DCPC) on Aug. 9.
By accepting the DCPC nomination, the commission's bylaws require that a public hearing and decision must be made within 60 days (by Oct. 8), during which time a moratorium went into effect prohibiting development within 20 feet on either side of the designated path areas.
The five ancient ways under consideration date back to the 1600s and 1700s and were used as cart paths and walking paths. They run between several Edgartown subdivisions and property owned by the Hall family in a triangle of land bordered by Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.
About 35 people attended the hearing, which was held at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center to accommodate the anticipated crowd. Several Edgartown Meadows residents and owners or abutting property spoke in favor of designating the paths as part of the DCPC. Attorney Benjamin Hall Jr. summarized a nine-page memorandum detailing his family's opposition to the designation. Mr. Hall said the designation would open the paths to use as public ways by residents of more than one town, defeating the attempt to protect them.
Moreover, the DCPC designation would take away the only means of egress to some of his family's property, Mr. Hall said, and prevent his parents from fencing about nine acres of his property, a move he characterized as a "taking."
MVC chairman Douglas Sederholm said the purpose of the hearing was to determine whether to designate the path areas as a special way, not whether it was a public way or not. He closed the hearing and scheduled the commission's deliberations and decision on the DCPC boundary amendment on Oct. 4, 7:30 pm, at the MVC building in Oak Bluffs.
Oak Bluffs selectmen limit noisy trucks
The Oak Bluffs selectmen came up with a temporary solution Tuesday to appease many complaints they have received in the past week from residents of School Street about extensive noise at night from construction trucks using a nearby staging area for equipment.
The selectmen had approved on Aug. 14 the contractor's use of a town lot behind the Catholic church on School Street for a large water main project in the downtown area. The selectmen's vote limited the contractor's trucks from using the lot between 9 or 9:30 pm and 6 am.
"What is happening is not what we expected, not what we allowed when we voted," selectman chairman Kerry Scott said Tuesday. She apologized to the several School Street residents who attended the meeting.
Lois Norton, Oak Bluffs water district administrator, also apologized to the residents and acknowledged that the contractor was not complying with the directive, but "going back and forth all night long waking people up." She said she and the project engineer were looking for solutions to the problem, such as finding other small areas around the site that could be used for staging at night. They were also considering reducing the amount of night work on the project, which will be laying new water mains in several downtown streets, including Circuit Avenue, until December.
Consulting engineer Bob Gowen, who is overseeing the project for the town, said the contractor's superintendent is being very cooperative and has already started doing more work during the day. However, Mr. Gowen stressed that the School Street staging lot is essential to the project. "We can work together so it's livable for all of us," he told the selectmen. He asked for their help in finding other staging areas.
After asking the residents what hours might be acceptable, the selectmen voted to limit the truck traffic in the lot between 7 pm and 7 am. The selectmen also approved setting up a committee of various town officials to come up with a complete solution to the problem.
MVC continues Veira Park public hearing
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) decided to make the public hearing held last Thursday night on Veira Park a double-header, continuing the hearing to Oct. 18. The plans to expand the park facilities and add a new ball field are under review as a development of regional impact.
About 40 people attended the first public hearing session last week at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center. After listening to testimony for about an hour and a half, MVC land use planning committee chairman and hearing officer Christina Brown continued the hearing to allow time for testimony from those who did not get to speak last week.
The proposal for Veira Park, put forth by Vineyard Little League Baseball, would add another ball field with batting cages, as well as a play area, new dugouts, stands, a picnic and play area, fencing, and parking.
At the Oak Bluffs annual town meeting in April, voters appropriated $200,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the project. The issue returned to voters following a campaign by the Coalition to Save Veira Park calling for the funding to be rescinded, which was defeated by nine votes at a special town meeting in June. The Oak Bluffs selectmen then referred the project to the MVC.
At last week's hearing, many people who live near the park spoke against its expansion, based on its location near already dangerous intersections that would be affected by the increase in traffic, they predicted. MVC transportation planner Jim Miller said that although a model using daily traffic counts conducted at the intersections around the park indicated increased traffic could easily be absorbed by the existing intersections, sight lines would be affected and would need to be addressed with clearer stop lines and pedestrian crosswalks.
Representatives from Little League as well as parents argued in favor of the park's expansion, which they said would provide a much-needed second field for families who have more than one child playing in the league, enabling them to be at the same place at the same time. The improvements to the park overall would bring the facilities up to stricter national Little League safety standards, as well.
The next public hearing session is scheduled for Oct. 18, 7:30 pm, at the MVC building in Oak Bluffs.
Old Oak Bluffs library conversion plan reviewed
The Oak Bluffs selectmen reviewed a preliminary plan to convert the old public library on Circuit Avenue into a pharmacy and two affordable apartments.
The selectmen held a hearing required for the submission of a housing development support grant for up to $750,000 for the old library conversion. Local architect Doug Ulwick presented the architectural drawings he had prepared for the historic building, which also formerly housed the E.N. Noyes store.
He said his goal is to return the building to look like it did when it was E.N. Noyes. A large bay window was added and other changes were made when the building was converted to a library.
Mr. Ulwick said he has been working on various arrangements for the building, but the latest plan shows first floor space in the original building for a pharmacy and a three-bedroom apartment above it, as well as a two-bedroom handicapped accessible apartment in the newer one-story wing.
He said the decision not to create two townhouse units in the wing would be less costly because it wouldn't require an extended roof. It would also provide a type of housing that is not readily available on the Island, he said.
The apartments will have back doors to a shared yard and bicycle sheds. Three parking spaces are currently available on the Penacook Avenue side of the building, and Mr. Ulwick said he is looking into additional short-term parking across the street for the retail section.
Alice Boyd, the grant writer, said the matching grant of up to $750,000 would cover the construction costs for the residential units only. The units would be 100 percent affordable and would have a deed restriction that would keep them affordable always. The grant application will be submitted next month, she said.
MassHousing has proposed putting a $50,000 per unit cap on such projects that could pose a problem, Ms. Boyd said. She will submit a letter to the agency opposing the change.
The town has $250,000 in community preservation funds that would cover renovations to the commercial section of the building, selectman Ronald DiOrio said. The Dukes County Housing Authority would manage the project.
Selectman chairman Kerry Scott recused herself from conducting the hearing because her business is in the same neighborhood as the proposed project. She spoke in support of the project as an abutter.
Janet Bayley was quoted in a Sept. 20 story about the Edgartown Board of Trade, but her job title was incorrectly reported. Ms. Bayley is the assistant manager of Edgartown Commons.