Tags Posts tagged with "Edgartown"


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The number of fishing vessels with Martha’s Vineyard home ports is on the decline, but those remaining at the helm persevere.

Amid yachts and pleasure boats, commercial fishing boats continue to cling to a corner of Edgartown Harbor. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Edgartown’s commercial trap fishing industry is tough work. It is evident as much in the number of working boats and fishermen seeking conch and sea bass as it is anecdotally. Those fishermen who remain put in long days and work under strict quotas and regulations. However, fishing is all they’ve done for most of their lives, and they say they are committed to riding out what wave is left of the local industry.

Island landings of channeled whelk, commonly referred to as conch, the most lucrative species caught in Island waters, are valued at more than $2 million each year since 2011, according to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF).

Behind conch are oysters, with Martha’s Vineyard landings valued at $1.3 million in 2014. There is one important distinction. Unlike conch, which are  wild-caught, oysters are for the most part raised in the protected waters of Island bays and ponds. Bay scallops, which are propagated as part of an extensive taxpayer-supported program, accounted for just over $700,000.

Even as conch fishing holds steady, the number of commercial fishermen registered as Island residents has started to decline, according to the DMF. In 2008, there were 360 registered Vineyard commercial fishermen. As of 2015, there are 263.

“Conch fishing is tough fishing,” commercial fisherman Tom Turner of Edgartown said as he replaced lost or damaged sea bass traps aboard his boat, the Sea Raven, docked at Memorial Wharf in Edgartown on a hot and sunny August afternoon.

The commercial sea bass season is short. Fishermen can only go out three days a week: Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and each day they fish, they’re allowed to catch no more than 300 pounds of sea bass, Mr. Turner said. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sets quotas and updates fishermen as they change.

“There’s a very small state allocation or quota,” he said. “There’s an entire fisheries quota, and each state was given a percentage, so that we get a set number of pounds a year. All landings are closely monitored, and when we start getting close to the quota, they start to close the fisheries.”

The sea bass he catches, he said, he sells to a Menemsha dealer.

Tom Turner, standing on the Edgartown dock, has been commercially fishing out of Edgartown Harbor for decades. — Photo by Monica Busch
Tom Turner, standing on the Edgartown dock, has been commercially fishing out of Edgartown Harbor for decades. — Photo by Monica Busch

Mr. Turner, 64, has been fishing commercially since he was 20 years old, which gives him more than 40 years of experience on the water. He works from 7 am to 3 pm on fishing days, which he describes as “banker’s hours.” His fishing season is from May until Thanksgiving. In the off-season, he runs a sawmill.

“When I started fishing, I did a lot of in-shore fishing, like for scallops. A really good year that I remember, there were almost 180 licenses that were getting their limits, daily, of scallops,” he said. “If you weren’t catching them, you were cutting them.”

Mr. Turner spoke as he continued to tend to his gear. “I caught my first fish when I was 5 years old, with my mom,” he said. “That was it.”

Mr. Turner was born on the Island, where he and his wife, Cynthia Harris, also raised their two sons. His dad had a dairy farm, and his mother was a “summer girl,” he said. He fished all his life, and it was in the 1970s that Mr. Turner decided that commercial fishing was for him.

“The fishermen were making more money than the farmers,” he said. He doesn’t believe that’s the case anymore.

On a summer day in August, the recreational boats in Edgartown harbor far outnumber the fishing boats.

“We’ve had to work to keep this little dock and the parking spots,” Mr. Turner said of the small area sandwiched between the wharf and private docks. “Even though this property was gifted to the town with the express purpose that it be used for commercial fishing … It’s not that anymore, but at least we get a little edge of it.”

There are six commercial trap fishing vessels that call Edgartown homeport as of this summer, according to Edgartown Harbormaster Charlie Blair. There are three spots at Memorial Wharf, and the rest have to moor their boats elsewhere.


Changing atmosphere

Mr. Turner said maintaining a harbor foothold and a business depends on mutual respect among fishermen and the town.

“During the tourist season, you could get one boat that doesn’t really pay attention or care about it, and it’s nasty if they don’t clean out at the end of the day,” he said of the potential odors that sometimes bother passersby. In a community whose economy depends upon tourists, the opinions of passersby can sometimes have clout.

Over the years, he said, town support for commercial fishing has swayed between supportive and less than that.

“We’ve had some leaders who weren’t real fond of commercial fishing,” he said. “[Fishing] was what their grandfathers did. They may not have liked cutting scallops after school, but it’s what it is.”

Mr. Turner said his favorite part of fishing is the hunt. Sometimes on off days, he fishes for fun. But his days are shorter than some of his peers, who have 18-hour workdays.

“I’m kind of in the bottom of the ninth here,” he said. “I could have been collecting Social Security for quite a while if I’d paid enough into it.”

At one point he had almost 1,000 traps and sold to four different fisheries.

“Back in the day when I was fishing, we had pots on for a whole bunch of fisheries, and it was just like, ‘Which pots are we gonna haul today?’ Weather permitting, we sometimes went 30 days in a row.”


Conch capitol

Edgartown commercial fisherman Donny Benefit said he doesn’t see any new fishermen joining the ranks down at the harbor anymore.

“They’d be fools,” he said in a phone conversation with The Times. “How are you going to make a boat payment? Go look at the catches.”

Mr. Benefit has fished since he was 6 years old, he said. When he was young, he said, “I caught all the codfish I wanted.”

Once he graduated from high school, Mr. Benefit started swordfishing, making trips up to Newfoundland and sometimes down to the Gulf of Mexico.

Now Mr. Benefit fishes for conch, though he takes all of his gear out of the water in August.

“August is the time they’re having babies,” he said. “I’d rather let them do what they wanna do so maybe I’ll have more later.”

Instead, he spends the month with his family, tuna fishing offshore and taking his 12-year-old daughter, Michaela, out bluefishing. She sells her catch for money to spend at the Ag Fair.

Donny Benefit has been a fisherman most of his life. — Photo by Michael Cummo
Donny Benefit has been a fisherman most of his life. — Photo by Michael Cummo

“She’s a very good fisherman. Better than most guys,” he said.

But at the end of the month, Mr. Benefit will be back to his traps, which he said haven’t been very fruitful in recent months.

“Conching is terrible [this summer],” he said. “Conch is way down — just check the landings. Compared to what I used to catch? It’s in half.”

He said he’s not sure what the problem is.

“There’s been a lot of people fishing on them, but 15 years ago, there was a year we didn’t catch crab,” he said. “We don’t have that much information on them. Five or six years ago, it was considered a predator.”

However, Mr. Benefit contends that Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are likely the conch capitol of the world, despite the fact that it’s rarely, if ever, served locally. He estimated that 90 percent of the conch Island fishermen catch makes its way to China. A little bit, he said, goes to Canada.

“Everyone asks where our fresh local seafood is,” he said. “I say it’s on the way to China.”

Exporting such a distance drives the cost up, which benefits fishermen. The financial promise is what drew Mr. Benefit to conch, when he was done swordfishing and couldn’t make money quahogging.

Though he works long days — he leaves at 3 am and returns at 4 pm — Mr. Benefit said he’s home every night. He also praised what he considers to be the fishing-friendly environment in Edgartown.

“The town of Edgartown, to me, takes care of their commercial fishing. And they’re really parking-friendly,” he said, a reference to the spots that the town reserves for fishermen at Memorial Wharf.

That being said, however, Mr. Benefit maintains a sobering pragmatism about the local industry.

“You can’t really support a family,” he said. “I’ve done pretty well, but I’ve been doing it long enough that I kind of know where they live.”


It’s cutthroat

As with many Island trades, commercial fishing is mostly a seasonal occupation. Very few Edgartown commercial trap fishermen are on the water year-round. Some fish for periods as short as 60 days, then work at other occupations in the off-season, such as Mr. Turner and his sawmill.

“It’s gone down the tubes,” Edgartown Harbormaster Charlie Blair said. “This place used to be filled with whale ships, schooners, and cod fishing boats. It’s all dead. These guys are the last hanging on.”

Those who are left, especially the trap fishermen, remain independent.

“They hate each other. If you’re trap fishing and your boat breaks down, you don’t think the other guys leave your traps alone, do you? It’s a war. Every day is a war for these guys. They get up early, they go in the darkness; once in a while they’ll tow each other home. That’s about it,” said Mr. Blair.  He commercially fished until 1994, when he was named harbormaster.

He underscored that it’s not all the fishermen who don’t get along, and that, for example, the “oyster guys” work together. Trap fishermen, however, argue over where traps are going, and sometimes accuse one another of stealing ground.

It’s particularly brutal, Mr. Blair said, when draggers “get in their gear and break it all up.”

Still, he said, the job has its perks.

“You still get in a boat, and don’t have to go through Five Corners in the middle of the day.”

Mr. Blair is blunt about the industry of Edgartown harbor. “We’re in a yachting, tourist industry,” he said. “Let’s just get that right out.”

At the end of the season, his staff drops from 19 to just four people, a reflection of the focus.

“Darn few guys are year-round; even the guys who have made their living for 30 years are now preparing their rental properties for the next year. You look at the tax return, fishing isn’t it … Fishing is sad. You can’t make a living. You’ve got to do something else.”

E3 | The FARM Institute
Non-profit, Executive Director Jon Previant

File photo courtesy of Mary Baker


14 Aero Avenue, Edgartown 02539

Link to MV Farm Map


Phone: 508-627-7007
Email: office@farminstitute.org
Online: www.farminstitute.org
Facebook: facebook.com/TheFARMInstitute
Twitter: twitter.com/FARMInstitute
Instagram: instagram.com/farminstitute

Products include

Meat & poultry, seasonal vegetables, eggs, merchandise

A fall or spring meat CSA is occasionally offered. TFI always offers “Meat Money” where customers can prepay and receive a discount.

Sales locations

Farmstand open daily 8:30am-4:30pm, Memorial Day through Columbus Day Weekend

West Tisbury Farmers Market, summer and winter, Saturday only

Photo by Mary Baker


Dating back to 1860, early island maps show fences bordering the land currently know as Katama Farm, indicating early agricultural use of the property. Today, the land is leased from the town of Edgartown and operates as a The FARM Institute, non-profit educational working farm, whose mission is to provide all who visit a greater connection to agriculture by helping to collect eggs, plant a seed, or simply see animals and the actual land where food comes from.


Once a dairy, Katama Farm has been in agricultural use since the 1930s but was placed into agricultural conservation in the late 1970s by the “Committee to Do Something” to avoid the land being subdivided and turned into housing. The FARM Institute moved to Katama Farm in 2005 from Herring Creek Farm, and raises pastured poultry, pork, beef cattle, sheep, hay and mixed produce with the helping hands of over 1000 local and visiting children each year. As an educational non-profit, they offer seasonal programs for children and adults alike, along side workshops, summer camp programs and short-term residential programs that give students the ability to experience where their food comes from as well as helping cook it and put it on the table. Although as a non-profit, they feel a responsibility to give back to the community, they also feel a responsibility to explore the great heritages behind the animals they raise, in counter to industrial models of raising livestock.

Additional Information

The FARM Institute also offers a camp and child/adult learning opportunities; Meals in the Meadow in July – farm-to-table dinner and dancing; Sheepapalooza! in April – meet the new lambs, sheep shearing, fiber arts and crafts and local farm food; Alfresco movie nights in the summer.

E1 | Morning Glory Farm
Owned by Jim and Debbie Athearn, with sons Simon and Daniel

Morning Glory Farm summer corn


120 Meshacket Road, Edgartown 02539

Link to MV Farm Map


Online: www.morninggloryfarm.com
Instagram: instagram.com/morninggloryfarmmv

Products include

Vegetables, corn, small fruits, meats, eggs, and cut flowers. Also salad bar and bakery. For daily specials and harvest, check their facebook page.

Sales locations

Daily farmstand open Mon – Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun 9am-5pm, May – November/ Mon – Sat, 9am-5:30; Sun 10:30am-3:30pm, June – October/ Mon – Sat, 9am-5:30pm; Sun 10:30am-3:30pm, December

West Tisbury Farmers Market, every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer and winter

Photo by Alison Shaw


Morning Glory Farm has long been known as the place to shop for a good, local and complete meal, and for their sweet corn. But the heart of the matter in their eyes, is that they are a real farm, surviving by doing a good job providing the food people want. They are using Vineyard land for the essential purpose of growing food, and preserving it for that purpose for future generations. And they are part of a community of many people who care deeply about what they are doing. Enjoy their farm store of plenty, and take in one of their festival celebrations if you can.


Starting in 1975 with sweet corn at the Farmers’ Market, Jim and Debbie Athearn proceeded to cultivate larger gardens, then cleared fields from woods on family land and established a roadside stand in Edgartown. Today, Jim and Debbie farm with their two sons, Simon and Daniel, and many employees, on 120 acres of owned and leased land from Edgartown to Chilmark. They cultivate 60 acres of corn, tomatoes, lettuce beans and all the usual vegetables that can be grown on Martha’s Vineyard. Strawberries provide an occasion for a festival in June and pumpkins sponsor a large and festive event in October. 40 acres of hay and 20 of pasture provide feed for their grass-fed beef cattle with the beef sold as frozen cuts in the farmstand. About 50 pigs a year are raised using surplus vegetables in their diet as well as conventional grains and home-grown, non-GMO feed corn. Pasture-raised chickens add to the protein element at the farmstand along with the pork and beef.

Additional Information

Strawberry Festival June 20; Pumpkin Festival October 17; Christmas Open House December

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Arthur Santry is bringing his Rhode Island/Washington entry Temptation/Oakcliff to try Edgartown Race Weekend for the first time since the early 1980s, when he sailed with his father in the ‘Round-the-Island Race. – Photo courtesy of PhotoBoat.com

The Edgartown Yacht Club race weekend looks more competitive than ever this year, with 20 boats new to the competition out of 48. A series of buoy races just off Edgartown Harbor is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24, followed by a Round-the-Island Race on Saturday, July 25.

Edgartown Race Weekend provides competitive racing for boats 28 feet and longer in divisions for IRC, PHRF (Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker), and HPR. Specific classes for Double-Handed, One Design, and Classic yachts are added when at least three boats are entered for each discipline. Competitors have a choice of sailing just one session or the other, but the trend since 2012, when buoy racing first was added to the mix, has been participation over all three days.

For more information, contact raceadministrator@edgartownyc.org.


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The Edgartown library search committee has narrowed down the list of candidates to replace current director Jill Dugas Hughes from 13 initial applicants to five semifinalists.

The committee is scheduled to conduct interviews on Monday, but will not open those interviews to the public. Ms. Hughes told The Times that the next round would be open, when there are two finalists for the position.

According to the state open-meeting law, “a screening committee may enter executive session to conduct a preliminary screening … Once a screening committee has identified qualified applicants as finalists for a position, however, the final review of those candidates must be conducted by the parent public body in open session.”

The search for a new director began following the announcement in May that Ms. Hughes would retire effective August 30, 2015.

Ms. Hughes joined the Edgartown library as director in 2012, after serving as executive director of the Connecticut Library Consortium.

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Sampson’s Hill property owner disputes claim he is not a responsible property owner.

An aerial view of a portion of the compound at the center of a dispute on Chappaquiddick. – Courtesy VRBO.com

A sprawling rental property on Chappaquiddick and the complaints it has generated from neighbors who claim the owner is running an inn in a residential neighborhood highlight the friction that sometimes erupts in communities dotted with vacation rentals, particularly those that are marketed to large groups, and the line that divides private property rights and zoning rules.

Over time, Stephen Olsson of Manchester, N.H., has cobbled together four abutting lots on Sampson’s Hill, and built three luxury estates with shared amenities that serve as high-end rental properties.

According to some of Mr. Sampson’s neighbors, the rural quietude of Chappaquiddick they enjoy is being systematically shattered by the constant activities associated with his rental properties.

The latest salvos in what has been an ongoing battle were exchanged at a public hearing on May 20 before the Edgartown zoning board of appeals (ZBA), where Mr. Olsson applied for a special permit to install a third swimming pool on his property. The ZBA unanimously denied the application, 5 to 0, with board member Nancy Whipple punctuating her strong “no” vote by upbraiding Mr. Olsson for being “a bad neighbor,” according to minutes from the meeting.

It was not the first time neighbors had turned out in force to complain about the properties. In August 2012, about 30 Chappaquiddick residents packed an Edgartown selectmen’s meeting to complain about the noise created by the property.  Edgartown Health Agent Matt Poole said at the meeting that he’d been repeatedly denied access to the property, and that he was prepared to take out a warrant to make an inspection. Mr. Olsson was repeatedly accused of running a commercial enterprise in a residential zone — all of Chappaquiddick is zoned residential.

According to the property website marthasvineyardluxuryrentals.com, renters have their choice of three estates; each sleeps 16 people at $15,000 per week. “The Captain’s Home” is a “luxury 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath home;” “The Monet Estate” is a “luxury 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home;” and “The Country Estate” has a main house and a cottage. Each property description lists access to heated full-size pool, a tennis/basketball court, and a volleyball court.

The battle for Sampson’s Hill underscores a conflict that comes up with increasing regularity on Martha’s Vineyard — when is a home-rental business considered a business?

“Fails straight-face test”

In a conversation with The Times on Wednesday, Mr. Poole said that he eventually obtained a police warrant to enter one of the three properties in February 2013. When he arrived at the property on Chapel Avenue, along with Edgartown Building Inspector Leonard Jason and and an Edgartown Police officer, Mr. Olsson, who had been notified of the warrant, was on the premises, along with a Barnes Moving truck.

“We found him moving beds and mattresses out of the house,” Mr. Poole said.

Mr. Poole found that there were at least four bedrooms in a house that was permitted for two bedrooms.  “There were also more undefined spaces being used for sleeping space,” he said. Mr. Poole said that Mr. Olsson’s purchase and redivision of an abutting three-acre lot allowed him to allocate more land to the Chapel Avenue house, bringing him into compliance with the bedroom-to-land area ratio. Mr. Poole said the septic system on the property is adequate for four bedrooms. “He’s taken significant steps to come into compliance. I don’t know if I can say it’s fully compliant, but it’s more compliant than it was,” he said. “It has a history of being used in excess of permitting capacity; hopefully it’s a thing of the past. Towns don’t have the resources to birddog these problems.”

Mr. Poole said the property has a troubled history, but the issue of whether it’s a commercial entity in violation of town zoning bylaws is not under his board of health purview. “But if you look at his advertisements, a two-bedroom house that sleeps 14 fails the straight-face test,” he said.

No silence

According to minutes of the May 20 ZBA hearing, abutters said that the noise from the frequent pool parties, and often loutish behavior, were shattering the Chappy silence.

At the hearing, Mr. Olsson said he did his best to control noise on his property, and showed the board an informational sheet that he passes out to all his renters, reminding them of the Edgartown noise ordinance. Chappy resident Pamela Lindgren said that the police had been called on several occasions, “but it’s difficult to get the police to respond to noise complaints on Chappy.”

Chappy resident Joan Abdi wrote in an email that the existing two pools “already have contributed to the disturbances of our peace and quiet by virtue of the noise, the music, and the lights created by his tenants, often late into the night.”

Several contractors under Mr. Olsson’s hire, however, said they had never seen parties there. Mr. Olsson said that he rents to families mostly, not to college kids.

Abuse of neighborhood

Abutter Ron Monterosso showed the board copies of rental advertisements that describe Mr. Olsson’s compound.

“You can’t have separate properties with shared, elite amenities,” Mr. Monterosso told The Times on Tuesday. “How is that not an abuse of residential neighborhood? How is this not changing the character of the neighborhood?”

“He has golf carts so tenants can drive from one property to the next,” Mr. Monterosso said. “The only difference from a hotel is there’s no reception and there’s no one watching.”

Mr. Monterosso has also found himself on the receiving end of noise complaints from Mr. Olsson. Several times last summer, Edgartown police filed reports related to complaints of gunshots on Chappaquiddick. The source was a private firing range Mr. Monterosso had constructed on his property at 1 Handy Avenue.

The range, built in October 2013, has been examined by police and the building inspector, and complies with state law.

Asked in an earlier interview what he thought about how the noise affected the peace and tranquility of his neighborhood, as well as his relationship with his neighbor, Mr. Monterosso said his neighbor runs equipment, including chippers and brush cutters, on a regular basis.

“And his tenants play their stereos at the same decibel level as maybe a shot. So what’s the difference, it’s all noise,” he said. “What is so sacred about his noise? I don’t get it.”

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Outgoing Edgartown library director Jill Dugas Hughes at the groundbreaking ceremony in March, 2014. — File photo by Michelle Gross

Edgartown Public Library director Jill Dugas Hughes announced that she will retire effective August 30, 2015.

“I am committed to do everything within my power to make this transition go smoothly,” Ms. Hughes said in a letter to the board of trustees. “When I accepted this position, I made a commitment to the community to manage the library building project, from start to finish. I am fully committed to accomplishing this goal. To say that I will miss all of you and this community is an understatement. Please know that I will assist you in any way that I can to make sure that the community receives the best library possible.”

“Jill has been a true gift to the library,” board chairman Denise Searle said in an email to The Times. “There are few, if any, who could have stepped in during this time of dynamic change and managed to keep all facets of both the new and existing library functioning and moving in a positive direction.”

Ms. Hughes joined the Edgartown library as director in 2012, after serving as executive director of the Connecticut Library Consortium. “We wish her much happiness and success, and hope she will return many times in the days and years ahead to see the library she helped create, in full swing,” Ms. Searle said.

The board has established a search committee. Ms. Hughes will assist in the recruitment and identification of a new library director. “It’s not going to be an easy task to find someone with the skills and dedication Jill possesses; however, with her guidance and keen sense of what it takes to be successful, we are confident in finding a successor who will possess the experience, talent, and leadership skills necessary to move forward,” said trustee vice chairman Deanna Ahearn-Laird.

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Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby, who will become part of the leadership team, was promoted to lieutenant.

West Tisbury Police Chief Dan Rossi did the honors when it came time to pin the chief's badge on newly minted Edgartown Police Chief Dave Rossi, his brother as town clerk Wanda Williams looked on. Photo by Rich Saltzberg

In back-to-back votes Monday, Edgartown selectmen appointed Patrolman David Rossi to be the town’s new police chief, and appointed Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby to the rank of lieutenant.

Town Clerk Wanda Williams swore in both men before selectmen and an audience of friends, family members, Edgartown police, and Island law enforcement officials. West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi pinned the chief’s shield on his brother David’s uniform, to hearty applause.

The newly minted Edgartown police chief in turn pinned the lieutenant’s shield on Mr. Dolby’s uniform, and applause broke out again.

Edgartown Police Chief Dave Rossi pins lieutenant bars on Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby.
Edgartown Police Chief Dave Rossi pins lieutenant bars on Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby.

Following the completion of routine agenda items, Selectmen Arthur Smadbeck made the nominations for the appointments.

“I’ve known both for a very, very long time, and I just really couldn’t think of better hands to have Edgartown in at this juncture,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

In brief remarks, David Rossi spoke about his connections to the town and the community and said he wanted to do what was best for Edgartown. “I’m honored to be recommended for this position,” Officer Rossi said. “I’m a lucky guy.”

“And we’re a lucky town,” Selectmen Chairman Michael Donaroma said.

The appointments followed the recommendations made last week by acting Edgartown Police Chief John M. Collins, a labor lawyer and law enforcement specialist, hired to serve in the interim period following the retirement of Chief Tony Bettencourt.

In a detailed 89-page report, titled “A Blueprint for Excellence: An Evaluation of and Vision for the Edgartown Police Department,”

Mr. Collins recommended selectmen name Mr. Rossi, a 25-year veteran of the department, the new police chief.

Mr. Collins also recommended a “two-person approach” to the department’s leadership, and the appointment of Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby to the position of lieutenant, second in command.

“Between them, they have what it takes to provide the leadership the department needs, and they can feed off of each other’s strengths,” Mr. Collins said.

He said, “I have become convinced that these two make a terrific team and together possess the strengths, dedication, vision and capabilities needed to lead the Edgartown Police Department in the coming years.”

In his remarks, Mr. Rossi said he would act on the recommendations in the report, in particular on accreditation, to insure the town met national standards.

The generally celebratory mood was not universally shared. Repeating points he raised at annual town meeting last month, Peter Look criticized what he saw as a lack of public input in the appointment process, as well as a lack of public discussion about the findings in Mr. Collins’ report on the police department, which was released only last week. “I came here thinking we were going to discuss the report,” he said.

Mr. Look described the police chief’s position as the most important appointed position in the town, and said that the appointment process was a “done deal.”

Mr. Look emphasized that it was the procedure, not the people. “I support the candidates 100 percent,” he said.

Warren Gosson, a retired Oak Bluffs policeman and sharp critic of the Edgartown department, was less kind in his assessment.

Mr. Gosson, whose previous behavior toward selectmen was the subject of a police investigation, accused selectmen of violating the open meeting law. Reading from a prepared text on his cellphone as he stood in the middle of the room, Mr. Gosson was critical of the appointment process, and singled out the prior appointment of now retired chief Tony Bettencourt. Mr. Gosson’s unflattering remarks about Mr. Bettencourt were too much for many of the officers in the room, who left while Mr. Gosson spoke. Chairman Donaroma told Mr. Gosson he had one more minute. Mr. Gosson recommended the accredited Oak Bluffs Police Department should temporarily take over the Edgartown Police Department while it sought accreditation.

Mr. Donaroma had had enough and cut Mr. Gosson off.

“In the eight, ten, twelve years I’ve been here [as a selectman],” Mr. Donaroma said, “I’ve never felt more confident in a decision I’ve made in an appointment — ever.”

Mr. Donaroma said the selection process had worked well for Edgartown for the past 50 years.

Selectmen Margaret Serpa, who is related to the officers, recused herself from the appointments, but was present.


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The icy Triangle pyramid, symbol of a never-ending winter, finally melts.

The giant snow bank at the Triangle, as seen on March 24. –File photo by Ralph Stewart

It went from snow pile to no pile in just under four weeks. We launched our “Guess When the Triangle Snow Pile Will Melt Contest” in our March 26 issue, but the Triangle snow pyramid had been huge, and growing, since late January. It melted from a height of — well, we didn’t measure it, but it was humongous, maybe 12 feet, spanning at least half a dozen parking spaces — to a six-inch pile of dirt-encrusted slush, and then, quickly, to nothing but a wet parking spot.

The snow pile had diminished to the size of a medium-sized dog by April 20. –Photo by Michael Cummo
The snow pile had diminished to the size of a medium-sized dog by April 20. –Photo by Michael Cummo

We got dozens of guesses, ranging from early April to the end of May. Some were general (May 17) and some were very precise (12:11 am on April 25).

As reported two weeks ago, we routinely checked the snow pile for melting progress, noting that the dirt encasing it might lengthen the melting process (this was an unscientific theory).

On Monday, April 20, photographer Michael Cummo stopped by the Triangle around noon and noticed that the snow pile had gotten quite small, though not so small that a car could park in the spot it inhabited. With heavy rain and warm (ish) weather predicted, we knew it was a matter of days.

Only a pile of dirt remained in the early morning of April 21. By that afternoon, cars were parking where the giant pile had been. – Michael Cummo
Only a pile of dirt remained in the early morning of April 21. By that afternoon, cars were parking where the giant pile had been. – Michael Cummo

It turns out, it was a matter of hours, or maybe minutes. By early the next morning, the pile was gone. We scanned the spreadsheet that Times intern Elie Jordi created to track all the contestants.

Luckily for us, as we weren’t monitoring the pile with one of our webcams, there was a clear winner. Steve Parachini of Edgartown, ironically one of our very first guessers, had guessed 4:20 pm on 4/20. No one else was within a day of him. He’ll receive a gift certificate to Edgartown Meat and Fish Market.

Steve Parachini will take home a prize of meat and fish for guessing when the giant snow pile would melt.
Steve Parachini will take home a prize of meat and fish for guessing when the giant snow pile would melt.

The pile, we guessed, was ushered out of the parking lot and into the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road at some point during the storm on the night of April 20.

Good riddance, almost-never-ending winter of 2015, and congratulations, Mr. Parachini.

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Following an eight year period when passage was impossible, Norton Point beach, shown in the foreground, is once again open to over sand vehicles by permit for travel between Chappaquiddick island and Katama. – Photo by Bill Brine

The Norton Point Beach over sand vehicle (OSV) route is officially open, once again providing a land route between Chappaquiddick and Katama following an eight year hiatus.

Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations Martha’s Vineyard superintendent said the passage was reopened on Sunday. OSV drivers need to have both a Norton Point OSV permit and a Cape Poge/Wasque OSV permit if they wish to travel to or from Chappy via the Dike Bridge to Norton Point Beach, Mr. Kennedy said. The Trustees manage Norton Point beach for Dukes County.

Oversand vehicle permit fees are: $180 Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge only, $90 Norton Point Beach resident permit only (vehicle must be registered on Martha’s Vineyard), and $140 Norton Point non-resident permit. Combination permits for both Norton Point Beach and Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge are $300 for vehicles not registered on Martha’s Vineyard and $250 for vehicles registered on Martha’s Vineyard.

People who wish to travel to or from Chappy via the beach must have a combination permit on the vehicle, Mr. Kennedy said.

For the past eight years Chappaquiddick was an island in name as well as fact, cut off from the rest of Edgartown by a breach in the two-mile Norton Point Beach that separates Katama Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

The re-established land route creates an additional complication for Peter Wells, owner of the Chappy ferry, which for the past eight years provided the only means of vehicle transport across the harbor. Mr. Welles is back to handing out two-way tickets.

In April 2007, a one-two punch of storm-driven ocean waves and powerful spring tides knocked open a cut in the beach. The result was two long, narrow spits of sand stretching east and west toward one another. The cut continued to migrate eastward to Wasque Point, in a natural cycle recorded many times in the past four centuries.