Steamship Authority agenda includes fast ferry, ads and perks
The Steamship Authority (SSA) will discuss the guidelines for the use of the Island Home lift decks, as well several other issues, when the members meet Tuesday in New Bedford.
Vineyard Steamship Authority member Marc Hanover has been pressing management to allow the terminal agents to make more use of the elevated ramps that can accommodate16 additional vehicles. The lift decks prompted a discussion at a Tisbury selectmen's meeting on Oct. 30. The selectmen said that lift deck space should be used sparingly. Tom Pachico, chairman of the Tisbury selectmen and the town's port council member, conveyed that view to the port council.
Mr. Hanover told The Times he did not know the selectmen would discuss the issue. Had he known, he said, he would have attended their meeting.
Wayne Lamson, Steamship Authority general manager, said the members will also discuss a request from the New England Fast Ferry Company to modify its winter schedule. The company says it is losing money because of high fuel costs and low winter ridership between the Vineyard and New Bedford. The company wants to reduce the number of off-season round-trips from three to two and end weekend service.
The members are also expected to discuss a long-standing boatline policy that provides free lifetime Steamship Authority passage, for themselves and their vehicles, to current and former SSA members and port council representatives, irrespective of the reason for travel.
The Tisbury selectmen also discussed the subject of the lifetime travel perk at their October meeting. Selectman Tristan Israel called it a "ridiculous benefit."
Mr. Pachico, serving his second full port council term, said he had always thought the benefit was for Steamship Authority business only and was surprised when he learned it applied to all travel.
The meeting is 9:30 am on the third floor of New Bedford City Hall.
West Tisbury selectmen approve Lambert's Cove CR
The West Tisbury selectmen last week approved a conservation restriction that would increase the amount of land protected behind Lambert's Cove Beach.
Certifying the restriction, the selectmen wrote, "The conservation restriction increases the area of available habitat, serves as a vital connector between the conserved land on both sides of the premises and protects significant, relatively natural habitat."
In 1999, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation and the Friends of Lambert's Cove raised $400,000 to buy conservation restrictions covering two lots, totaling 20.3 acres behind the beach, owned by Henry Goethals. Selectmen Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter thanked Lisbeth Jones, Sheriff's Meadow director of land protection, for the foundation's efforts to secure the property's protection and the Goethals family for its generosity.
In other business, Vernon Welch and James Sanfilippo of Aquinnah asked the selectmen for permission to operate a bus tour business on town roads. They described an eco-friendly bus tour line that would transport passengers from the Steamship Authority terminals to the Aquinnah Cliffs in buses fueled by bio-diesel. They said the tours would include an environmental educational component.
The selectmen said they favored the project as long as the tours do not use Middle Road, but they added that they will discuss the issue with town counsel.
Visiting for a look-see
The 83-year-old, 55-foot, British-built, gaff-rigged, cruising ketch Venture squeezed on and off a Steamship Authority ferry Thursday, bound for the Vineyard and Gannon and Benjamin (G&B) Marine Railway's Mugwump building annex behind Tisbury Marketplace. The venerable yacht, sold to an American owner in 1970, will be examined by G&B for another owner, who is considering Venture's restoration.
According to Carol Salguero of G&B, "Just getting the boat to the island from Lamoine, Maine was a challenge." Hauling arrangements took two and a half months. Trucking companies were skittish about the boat's size, and more concerned about the boat's integrity when they learned the ballast keep had been removed.
"With the keel in place," Ms. Salguero explained, "the boat was too tall to pass beneath power lines or fit onto the ferries." Venture, which coincidentally is the name of a gaff-rigged sloop formerly owned by designer/builder Nat Benjamin, draws more than eight feet, and she is 12 feet wide at the deck. Boatbuilder Ross Gannon went to Maine to detach the long, lead-ballast keel, which can be trucked separately.
"The trucking company that finally took the job," according to Ms. Salguero, "was J's Trucking LLC from Camdenton, Missouri." That company had a flatbed that rolled at three inches above ground, "probably the lowest [flatbed] in the country," the driver, Jason King, said.
There was a final snag in Woods Hole. The Steamship Authority ticket computer refused to accept a single vehicle of 99 feet, so Venture arrived as two, in 55- and 44-foot lengths.
The mainmast had to be removed from the trailer and transported by G&B workers along Beach Road on spar dollies, pushed and pulled by hand.
Venture's availability was publicized in the Save a Classic feature of the July/August edition of Wooden Boat magazine. "Despite her basically sound strucktural contitino and the good work that's been done to date, there's a long road ahead," Wooden Boat's Maynard Bray wrote. "This is a big, big boat and not a neophyte undertaikeing, Yet , place in the right hands for a sensitive restoration, and with adequate funding to back it up, she'd be one of the most elegant yachts of her era float - and still be essentially original."
Brothers in name and service
As part of a salute to Veterans Day last week, The Times ran a listing of Vineyarders currently on active duty in military service. In an e-mail received last Friday, Ariel Thomas of Oak Bluffs provided an update to the list with information about her brothers, who both are serving in the U.S. Navy.
EOCN Craig Sylvia is stationed with a construction battalion in Port Hueneme, Calif., and waiting for orders for his second deployment in April. AMAA Leigh D. Sylvia is stationed in Brunswick, Maine, working as an aircraft structural mechanic. Both will be home for Christmas leave.
Island Veterans honored
Island veterans marched Sunday through Oak Bluffs to commemorate Veterans Day.
O.B. selectmen, county clash over manager search
Several Oak Bluffs selectmen offered withering criticism of the Dukes County commission's search for a new county manager at the selectmen's regular meeting Tuesday night.
County commission chairman Paul Strauss of Oak Bluffs attended the meeting as part of the commissioners' recent outreach effort to Island boards of selectmen. Commissioners have been visiting local towns with a list of proposals ranging from a central shared dog pound to a regional solid waste, recycling, and composting facility. The commission is also asking local boards for feedback on the possibility of a two percent rooms tax, and a two percent deeds excise tax.
It was clear after Mr. Strauss's short talk, that some selectmen were eager to weigh in on efforts to fill the manager position.
Oak Bluffs selectman Gregory Coogan chaired a search committee appointed by the county commission. That search committee recommended that the position be re-advertised, saying none of the 12 candidates who applied met the advertised criteria.
The commission then reviewed the candidates themselves, and invited three for interviews, which were conducted on Saturday.
"I'm having trouble," said selectman Ron DiOrio. "You're basically in here saying 'trust us.' You're going to have to raise my trust level a little here."
"The screening committee was not rejected," said Mr. Strauss. "They did their job. We agreed that we should proceed with the process and deal with applicants that we had, rather than start the process over. I came here neither to defend it, nor oppose it."
"This is clear," said Mr. Coogan. "It seemed as if our recommendation, whether we were right or wrong, was ignored. At this point, I think we will have to wait and see, we have to see if there's an effective county government in place before we can go much further."
The selectmen called a meeting next week to vote on a warrant for a special town meeting, tentatively scheduled for December 11. The primary focus of that meeting is expected to be a salary increase for several non-union town employees. Selectmen anticipate fewer than six employees will be affected. The amount of the raises, and the number of employees affected will not be known until the town's classification and compensation study is finalized.
In other action, the board granted a blacksmith's shop license to Jamie Rogers, who asked to install a small forge at her family's 7 Pond View Drive home. Ms. Rogers makes small metal jewelry and art objects.
The board granted a year-round all alcohol permit to the Oyster Bar, which is now scheduled to remain open every evening except Christmas.