Tags Posts tagged with "Oak Bluffs"

Oak Bluffs

by -
Illumination Night, photographed here in 2013, draws large crowds. — Susie Safford

Oak Bluffs Police plan to tighten security for Illumination Night tonight, August 20, and the Ocean Park fireworks two days later this Friday. Added measures will include limited access points, searches of backpacks, coolers, and bags, strict traffic and parking bans, and more police officers.

Illumination Night begins at 8 pm, Wednesday. The fireworks display begins at 9 pm, Friday. Rain dates for each are on the following nights. Police said there will be several areas in town where parking will be banned 72 hours in advance of both events. Violators will be ticketed and towed.

On Illumination Night, parking will be available at Sunset Park, with access from Greenleaf Ave., off of Dukes County Ave. Arrive early or expect delays, officials said.

All of Ocean Ave. will be closed to traffic at 3 pm for the fireworks. Seaview Ave., from Lake Ave. to Samoset Ave., will be closed at 4 pm. There will be parking at Sunset and Waban Parks. Handicap parking will be available at the Steamship Authority staging area and around the Civil War monument.

Evening SSA ferries and the New Bedford fast ferry will be re-routed to the Vineyard Haven terminal. The 3 pm pm New York fast ferry to Oak Bluffs will arrive in Vineyard Haven at 8:30 pm. Expect delays. Choosing a pickup location out of the downtown area is recommended.

Shuttle bus service from Edgartown will be at the corner of Seaview and Tuckernuck Aves., at the Seaview Condominiums. The Vineyard Haven shuttle stop will be at the corner of Lake Ave. and Dukes County Ave.

Megan-AlleyWelcome to August, which usually means that our lawns and flowers are starting to look a bit dried up and not so beautiful. But thanks to some timely rain showers, things are still bright and beautiful. Of course, the crowds and therefore traffic lines seem endless. Everyone says drivers and visitors behave badly during August. Perhaps by now we are all exhausted and frustrated by fighting traffic and waiting in long lines and actually trying to be nicer than we really are. That is impossible to do for more than five minutes, so the next time you are ready to explode because of someone’s rude or stupid maneuver, try saying, “Oh my goodness gracious,” and you will find it is impossible to lose your temper.

A Backyard Music Concert — a fun, music event for the whole family — will take place at our own Oak Bluffs Library. On Saturday, August 16, 6–7 pm, the Rye Brothers jug band returns. Bring a blanket, picnic, and friends for a concert on the lawn (indoors if raining). This is a family-friendly band.

Friday Morning Conversations at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center continue to bring in interesting speakers. On Friday, August 15, from 10 to 11:30 am, the guest speaker will be young Philadelphia author Jon McGoran, who will discuss his newest book, “Deadout.” “When Martha’s Vineyard’s bees begin to mysteriously die off and a biotech company plans to release genetically modified bees into the environment, a vacationing Philadelphia detective discovers that the bees aren’t the only things being modified. Things spin violently out of control as he closes in on what they are really up to, and he must race to stop them before their plot succeeds, and spreads to the mainland and the world.”

The Children’s Author storytime  at the Library on Wednesday, August 20, starts 10:30 am. Come and meet author Christie Jones-Ray, and hear about her book,  “Eliza Visits Martha’s Vineyard.”

Last weekend, accompanied by my sister, Ann Hearn, and my daughter, Mary Alley, I went north to Lebanon, N.H., for a Bagley family reunion. What a great time it was; I met cousins I knew from childhood and met many more for the first time. There were close to 80 first cousins, second cousins, spouses of relatives and all were connected to the Bagley family.  Each family had a table displaying photos, letters etc. that gave a history going back for years. I realized that the last time I went away for a vacation was seven years ago, but this one was worth the wait.

The Sullivan 5K Run Walk is on Saturday, August 23. Kids fun run starts at 8:45, walkers at 9 am, and runners start at 9:30 am, For more info log onto mvhospital.com/runwalk.

We remember Jenna  on the 17th and  send birthday smiles to Russ MacDonald on August 18, my son Dion Alley and Becky Rogers on the 19th, and Marilyn Wey on August 20th.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

Got Oak Bluffs news? Email Megan Alley here.


by -

A meeting between the town administrator and FEMA brass left a cloud of uncertainty over anticipated storm repairs.

Dredging is needed under little bridge at Sengekontacket. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The long-running campaign by Oak Bluffs officials to secure funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy remained in limbo this week. In a meeting Tuesday, FEMA officials informed town Oak Bluffs officials that the town’s applications still lack proper documentation, and that internal mistakes on FEMA’s part still need to be reconciled.

“It was a tough meeting,” Robert Grimley, FEMA disaster recovery manager for Region 1, said in a phone call with The Times on Tuesday. “I know Mr. Whritenour was frustrated, but we can’t make final decisions without the proper documentation.

“I think the positive is there’s some information, like maintenance records, that’s readily available that the applicant can retrieve. The applicant, to their defense, said they had provided all the documentation to the joint field office, but for whatever reason, we never received it or someone doesn’t have a copy of it. We just want to make sure before we approve it that we have all the paperwork in order. If it slipped by us, all five of those projects could be at risk down the road if we didn’t fix them now.”

The five projects for which the town has applied to FEMA for funding include the dredging at Little Bridge at Sengekontacket, East Chop Road and Seaview Ave. bulkhead, restoration of beaches and jetties at Pay Beach, Jetty Beach, and the Inkwell, the seawall at North Bluff, and East Chop Bluff.

“The meeting was a little disappointing,” town administrator Robert Whritenour said in a phone call with The Times on Wednesday. “They started off telling us that FEMA may have made some mistakes. They said consider this like an audit. The long and short of it, we had months of discussion with various project engineers which ended in FEMA sending their signed project worksheets which documented the town’s eligibility and the scope for each one of the five projects. To have them come back and say we’ve reviewed those and we think FEMA made some mistakes, means redoing all of the work that we’ve already done. The one good part that came out of it is they agreed to a weekly conference call so we could stay on top of this and there wouldn’t be anymore surprises.”

In addition to Mr. Whritenour, the town was also represented at the meeting by selectman Walter Vail and conservation commissioner Elizabeth Durkee.

“It was my expectation that the Sengekontacket dredging and the North Bluff project were going to receive final approval,” Mr. Whritenour said. “The next window for dredging is from September 1 to January 15. Hopefully we’ll be on track. Sengie is an ecological problem and the longer we wait, the more we jeopardize the health of the pond. I don’t see any major roadblocks, but I didn’t see any before either. North Bluff is even more frustrating. Their engineer questions extent of damage to the wall. It’s disappointing for this to come up at this late juncture. We were under the impression that was resolved.”

The channels at Big Bridge and Little Bridge connect Sengekontacket to Nantucket Sound, and provide the only flushing of the pond.

Deal or no deal

A critical misunderstanding occurred between the town and FEMA in October, 2013, when town officials apparently assumed that a FEMA sign-off on a project worksheet locked in federal funds. In his town administrator’s report on October 22, 2013, Mr. Whritenour wrote, “Oak Bluffs has received approval and signed contracts for more than $4.3 million in federal disaster assistance: $553,086 for Sengekontacket dredging; $664,588 for East Chop Road and Seaview Avenue bulkhead repair; $1,165,284 for beach and jetty restoration at the Inkwell, Pay Beach and Jetty Beach; and $1,960,845 for North Bluff seawall repair.”

“Unfortunately, the applicant believed that because they [FEMA] signed the project work sheet that it obligated the federal government to funding,” Mr. Grimley said. “What that really means is that the project specialist and the applicant are agreeing to the damages that they are measuring. It does not mean that the federal government is obligated to commit to that money.”

Speaking with The Times on Wednesday, Mr. Whritenour maintained there was no such confusion on the town’s part. “We attended training sessions, we know project worksheet approval is not a grant, but it is first key juncture,” he said. “They determine what the scope of project is. We did think they agreed to the scope.”

Help for Sengie
Mr. Grimley said he and other Region 1 FEMA officials are looking at every angle to secure funding for the town. “We’re working very hard to get them the funding,” he said. “Our lawyers are the best. They’re very creative when it comes to getting approvals and working within the laws and regulations.”

Mr. Grimley cited the Little Bridge dredging project as an example. “We’ll rewrite the project worksheet on that so instead of having it under beach replenishment, which is considered permanent work, we’ll put it under debris removal. It’s certainly eligible for that and it’s a lot easier to get approved.”

Mr. Grimley said that some FEMA decisions were imminent, although he did not specify which ones. “We’re very close to making a determination one way or another. If it’s not favorable, they have an opportunity to appeal to the regional administrator here in Boston, and if they’re still not satisfied they can make a second appeal to FEMA headquarters. We’d rather make the determination favorable right up front; that way we don’t go through more rigamarole.”

To the Editor:

I recently received my semi-annual bill from the Oak Bluffs Water Dept. Enclosed with the bill was a notice informing me that I would be charged $200 if it were discovered that my water meter had been installed backward. The Water Department Board believes that the homeowner is responsible for seeing that the water meter is installed properly.

So, I call on my sister/fellow homeowners: raise your hand if you know how a water meter should be properly installed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a little like my surgeon removing my gallbladder instead of my appendix, and then suing me for his/her malpractice?

Nathalie Woodruff

Oak Bluffs

Megan-AlleyI seem to be spending a great deal of time at my kitchen sink lately and it is not because I am in love with washing dishes. It is because in front of the sink window, is my new “squirrel-proof” bird feeder which is actually working: most of the time the squirrels find it too frustrating to figure out. But working well it is, bringing in all species of birds, and even the many cardinals, usually ground feeders, are able to perch happily and feast away. Watching them all sweep in like a rainbow of colors and activity and chirp away, as if relating the latest news in the neighborhood, is peaceful way to begin the day.

People have come up with some wonderful ideas for revitalizing downtown Oak Bluffs, but there was one suggestion that I would discourage. That is the idea of laying cobblestones in some areas. As someone who uses a cane, I can testify how difficult it is to walk along the streets and sidewalks, and the brick areas are especially challenging. Many of our daytrip visitors use canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, and trying to wend their way along a cobblestone surface might prove too challenging.

Both good entertainment and support for the MV Center for Living, the Island Theater Workshop will present a benefit performance of Peter Pan on Friday, August 15, at 7:30 pm at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center. Directed by Kevin Ryan, the play will benefit several Center for Living programs and services for Island seniors, The Supportive Day Program (a social day care program for elders), The Medical Taxi Program, the Emergency Food Program, and the Support Group for families coping with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementia issues. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $12 for children. Call 508-939-9440 for tickets and information.

The Oak Bluffs Senior Center is hosting an open house on Wednesday, August 13, from 3 to 6 pm, when they are opening the doors for everyone who is 50 or older. There will be great food and beverages, music of the 50s and 60s to take us down Memory Lane, and Door Prizes from Oak Bluffs merchants drawn every 15 minutes. The afternoon is being sponsored by the Friends of the OBCOA.

A movie on the life of Maya Angelou will be shown at the Senior Center on August 14, starting at 1:30 pm. All are welcome.

You still have two more chances to enjoy the Sunday evening band concerts in Ocean Park. So mark the following dates: August 10, August 24. The concert will be in the Tabernacle for Illumination night and on August 24 it’s back to the Park. All concerts start at 8 pm.

Condolences to the family of Jane Maseda who died last week. Jane, who was a cousin of my husband, and her husband, Tony, were part of a small group that used to gather weekly to play cribbage, back in the early 50s. There were six of us in the group, which also included Jane’s brother Charlie Combra and his wife, Barbara. How much fun we did have on those nights. She was the mother of Antoinette and James Maseda and the grandmother of four.  Jane worked many years at the Oak Bluffs Library and will be missed by her many friends as well as family. We are so very sorry.

The Friday Conversation program at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center tomorrow, August 8, features speakers Tom Dresser, Herb Foster, and Jay Schofield who will be speaking about their new book “Martha’s Vineyard in World War II,” which is in a second printing. The program runs from 10 to 11:30 am. The book is filled with interviews of people who were teenagers during the war, accounts of military activities and descriptions of the war effort, including submarine activity offshore. All are welcome. There is no charge and there will be an opportunity for comments and questions. Their book will be available for sale for $20.

On August 12, Tuesdays at Twilight at the West Tisbury Grange Hall will present Spotlight on Youth, a concert showcasing the Vineyard’s best new talent. The concert is sponsored by the West Tisbury Library Foundation.

Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association proudly presents the 19th Annual Gingerbread Cottage Tour  on Wednesday, August 13. This is one of the most anticipated events of the summer season. The tour runs from 10 am to 3 pm with the last ticket being sold at 2 pm. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the Tabernacle Restoration Fund. The tour includes visits to the interior of six gingerbread cottages, admission to the Cottage Museum, and delicious refreshments. Tickets are available in advance at mvcma.org or the day of the tour at the Tabernacle.

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is holding its annual meeting, which will be highlighted by the 2014 Martha’s Vineyard Medal award ceremony, on Monday, August 11, at 5 pm at the Federated Church in Edgartown. This year’s recipients include Renee Balter who will be introduced by Skip Finley, Dorothy Bangs (posthumously) presented by Denys Wortman, and Richard Paradise introduced by Jennifer Smith Turner. Since 1923 the Martha’s Vineyard Museum has been the “safety deposit box” for the images, stories, objects, and voices of Martha’s Vineyard. The museum introduced the Martha’s Vineyard Medal in 2009, which is awarded annually to leaders in the community in recognition of their outstanding commitment to preserving the history, arts, and culture of Martha’s Vineyard.

Remember Hula Hoops?  I do, though I don’t recall ever being too successful at it. Well our library is holding a Hoop Fest on Wednesday, August 13, at 11 am. Activities include a Hula Hoop party and games outside, weather permitting. It will be canceled if raining. All ages can attend. Then get ready for Illumination night when the Library holds two Illumination craft sessions on Tuesday, August 19, at 10:30 am. Decorate a lantern for Illumination Night. Space is limited to 50, so pre-registration is required. This session is for ages 3 to 8 years. At 4 pm the Illumination Craft for teens will start. Again, space is limited to 15 so pre-registration required. Ages 9 and up are invited to participate.

Make plans now for a trip to Foxwoods Casino on August 26 sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Council On Aging. To sign up and for additional information, call Rose at 508-693-4509, ext. 3.

We send birthday smiles Ben deBettencourt on  the 7th, Ken Debettencourt and Bob Gatchell on the 8th, John rose on the 9th,, followed  by Danielle Sedlier and Sarah Trudel on the 10th, Deb Hammett and my daughter Kati Alley on the 11th, Terry McCarthy and Richard Mello III on the 12th and Nelson Oliver and Shaun dePriest on the 13th.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

by -

The newly formed streetscape master plan committee seeks opinions and ideas in person and in cyberspace.

Anyone with ideas on improving the Oak Bluffs business district can weigh in at the DSMPC website OBdowntown.com. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The recently formed Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee (DSMPC) held its inaugural outreach events on July 23 and 24, to elicit opinions from visitors and Islanders alike on how to revitalize downtown Oak Bluffs. Members of the eight-person committee manned tables outside the post office and next to the town information booth both days, giving out surveys and listening to all comers. On Wednesday evening there was a public visioning meeting at the Oak Bluffs library and on Thursday morning, members of the business community gathered at Union Chapel to share their views. Both meetings were moderated by consultants from the Horsley Witten group.

The new logo of the Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee.
The new logo of the Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Gail Barmakian, DSMPC member and Oak Bluffs selectman, said in a phone interview with The Times. “We were trying to get a wide cross-section of people and I think we were very successful at that. It didn’t matter if they were visitors, seasonal residents, or Islanders, people have a passion for this town. But you have to draw them out. You can’t just say ‘fill this out.’ You have to engage.”

Ms. Barmakian said an overriding theme was that cleaning and repairing downtown should be a top priority. “People were saying that we have to clean it up,” she said. “Clean and repair but not change the character of the town. We had to preserve the unique character of the town.”

“We dished out roughly 350 surveys during the day,” DSMPC member Brian Packish said in a phone interview with The Times. “So far we’ve gotten about 200 back between the website and the ones we handed out.” Mr. Packish, a landscaper and chairman of the planning board, said the public visioning meeting on Wednesday night exceeded his expectations. “The meeting room was packed,” he said. “People were excited. A lot of them stayed and talked in the parking lot after the meeting.”

Mr. Packish said signage, or “wayfaring” in urban planning parlance, was a much discussed topic. “There’s definitely a need for better wayfaring,” he said. “When you rely heavily on tourism, the tourists need to know where to locate the bathrooms and how far they are from the Campground, and what direction to go.” Mr. Packish said signs for pedestrians that give the walking time to destinations was a popular idea.

Ms. Barmakian agreed. “Signage from both ferry terminals is really lacking,” she said. “It also places a burden on the police because they have to spend so much time giving directions.”

The well attended town visioning meeting produced a number of constructive ideas for improving the Oak Bluffs business district.
The well attended town visioning meeting produced a number of constructive ideas for improving the Oak Bluffs business district.

Mr. Packish said a park and ride for employees in the downtown area was a popular solution for the summertime parking woes, and that the dingy downtown appearance was a recurring theme. “Overall, town cleanliness was definitely a big issue,” he said. “A lot of people feel there need to be more trash barrels and more pickups.”

Duncan Ross, DSMPC member and the de facto representative for the Friends of Oak Bluffs, also said the Wednesday night meeting was particularly productive. “It was good for the people on the committee because we weren’t in any of the working groups,” he said. “We just walked around and listened to the ideas.”

A former selectman and retired teacher, Mr. Ross said that one of the better ideas he heard was to create parking for downtown employees on the streets that border Waban Park. “I thought that was a brilliant idea,” he said. “It’s a simple solution to a problem that has persisted for a long time.”

In a phone interview with The Times, John Tiernan, co-owner of the Dockside Inn, said he pitched a similar idea at the Thursday morning meeting he attended with other town business owners. “I suggested wrapping Waban park with head-in parking, like we have at Ocean Park,” he said. “You could give employees hanging tags, they could walk into town and know they’re not going to get a ticket. You could have maybe 200 parking spots there. You’d have 20 disgruntled homeowners, but 12 of them rent their house out during the summer anyway.” Mr. Tiernan added that parking around Waban Park could also increase flow to Pay Beach and the Inkwell which in turn could also create business for new vendors.

Overall, Mr. Tiernan said he was encouraged by the Thursday gathering. “It was a great first meeting,” he said. “It was an eclectic crowd. which is representative of what Oak Bluffs is. I’m happy there were people like Peter Martell and Kerry Scott, along with some of the newer business owners like me. Peter doesn’t pull any punches. He’s a longtime steward of the town and he cares a lot about Oak Bluffs.”

Mr. Tiernan said that adding proper sidewalks and replacing the sagging, aging telephone poles with underground lines were some of the improvements that he hoped to see on Circuit Ave. extension. “One of my proposals has met a bit of resistance, but I think Circuit Ave. extension is perfect for cobblestones,” he said. “When you go to the North End in Boston or Portsmouth [New Hampshire] you see cobblestones, and you know you’re in a seaport. Edgartown does this, why can’t we? We can’t do the same old, same old. People joke about New Bedford but the downtown area is much better than Oak Bluffs, hands down, and they have much better signage.”

Mr. Tiernan said that as a hotelier, he pays 11.7 percent tax on every room charge and he questions how it’s spent. “Six percent of that tax goes directly to the town, yet we can’t clean up Circuit Ave. or fill potholes on Circuit Ave. extension,” he said. “I have no idea where that money goes. If the town can’t clean up the sidewalks on Circuit Ave., how about hiring a private contractor to power wash them? I’d pitch in for that.”

Mr. Martell, owner of the Wesley Hotel, said he was less than enthused by the Thursday business owners meeting. “The dog and pony show [by Horsley Witten consultants] doesn’t mean a lot to me,” he said. “I don’t need to listen for 15 minutes about how great they are at making signs. Oak Bluffs has plenty of signs. My big thing is to improve the beaches. They’re a disgrace. I don’t know why they’re [town officials] dragging their heels. You can have all the signs you want, but when people get off the boat and look at our beaches, they’re going to go somewhere else.”

Mr. Packish had a different take on the consultants’ contribution. “They really did a good job: they went door to door to every business in town, and their study was pretty comprehensive,” he said. The firm, along with Mr. Packish and DSMPC member Erik Albert, owner of the Oak Bluffs Inn, also run the committee’s active social media program, including the website OBdowntown.com and a Facebook page that already has over 800 likes. Surveys can still be completed on the website, until August 8.

“We want to hear from all Islanders, not just Oak Bluffs,” Mr. Packish said. “We’re open to good ideas.”

by -
The speed limit drops from 45 to 35 mph at the Edgartown-Oak Bluffs town line. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Two weeks ago, Oak Bluffs highway department work crews exchanged 45 miles per hour (MPH) speed limit signs for new signs that reduced the speed limit to 35 mph along Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road from the Tisbury-Oak Bluffs town line to the roundabout.

Oak Bluffs installed a 35 mph speed limit sign on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in place of the previous 45 mph sign.
Oak Bluffs installed a 35 mph speed limit sign on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in place of the previous 45 mph sign.

Michael Verseckes, deputy communications director for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which has the sole authority to change speed limits, told The Times that his agency did not authorize any change in the speed limit for that section of roadway.

“A regulatory speed limit sign can only be posted in support of a special speed regulation,” Mr. Verseckes said in an email to The Times. “Such regulations are reviewed by MassDOT and approved by the Highway Administrator and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles before they are installed.”

Mr. Verseckes said that MassDOT had not been aware of the signs. “They were not authorized,” he said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “Only MassDOT can change speed limits, as a matter of consistency.”

The 35 mph sign represents a drop in speed for motorists leaving Tisbury along the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. Previously the speed limit increased from 35 mph at Hillside Village to 45 miles per hour and remained 45 mph until just before the roundabout, where it drops to 15 mph.

The change in the signs attracted the attention of Jamie Norton, a Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School mathematics teacher who owns a farm on Edgartown-Vineyard haven Road.

“It used to be a 45 miles per hour zone so I went over and asked them what they were doing, and they said the police had told them to put up the sign,” Mr. Norton told The Times.

Ask the police

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Richard Combra Jr., Oak Bluffs highway superintendent, said he placed the signs at the request of the Oak Bluffs police department. “That was done at the request of the police department,” Mr. Combra said in a telephone conversation with The Times on Tuesday. “We put up signs right before the roundabout and after the high school.”

Asked if he was aware that MassDOT had not authorized the reduced speed limit, Mr. Combra said, “I’m not sure, I’d leave that up to Lieutenant Williamson or the chief.”

Lieutenant Tim Williamson said that after consulting with police chief Erik Blake he instructed the Oak Bluffs highway department to change the signs. “There was a huge lack of signage along that road,” he said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “I spoke with the chief and went out with the highway foreman to place some signs. We were aware that, officially, we can put up all the signs we want but we can’t enforce them without a speed study.”

Lt. Williamson believes he was acting on behalf of public safety. He confirmed that he had not sought MassDOT authorization.

“Maybe shame on us for not getting a speed study first, but I wanted those signs up to get people to slow down, to stop people from getting hurt,” he said. “We’ve had accidents there with the increased road use. There are trucks coming out of NSTAR and Goodale’s, year-round usage of the ice arena, elderly housing, the preschool, the YMCA, and of course the school zone. It’s so busy. I think it’s time we had that road restudied.”

Lt. Williamson said that the signs were not intended as a speed trap and that tickets along that road could be successfully appealed. “I haven’t told people to target anyone, to nail people, that’s not the intention,” he said. “We just want people to slow down in a busy area, and if someone got a speeding ticket there they could challenge it, since we haven’t had a speed study yet.”

Not the first time

This is not the first time that Oak Bluffs officials have expressed concern about speed along that section of roadway, or taken action on their own.

In 2001, acting on a joint recommendation of the Oak Bluffs police and highway departments, the selectmen asked the town’s highway department to lower the speed limit approaching the four-way blinker intersection from 35 mph to 25 mph.

But that plan was abandoned after Mr. Combra, then assistant superintendent, learned that he could not post new speed limits without following state procedures. At the time, Mr. Combra told The Times, “There is a process which the town is going to follow.”

One year later, a 30 mph speed limit sign and a “Do Not Pass” sign appeared on a single post at the bottom of a hill just before the entrance to Goodale’s sand pit. MassDOT, at the time called MassHighway, determined that the sign was not authorized. At the time, Mr. Combra said his department had not erected the sign and it was removed.

Before a speed limit can be set or changed, it must be approved by that agency based on set criteria. Otherwise, said one state highway official, towns might post speeds based on political or economic considerations — to deter commuters from passing through a community or to snare unwary motorists in speed traps, for example. Or in the cases of West Tisbury and Aquinnah in the late 1990s, reacting to pressure from local abutters.

According to state records, the roadway is a town road and is posted at 45 mph for 0.73 miles from the Tisbury town line, at which point the speed limit drops to 35 mph for the next 0.34 miles.

Requests for speed limit changes must be made to MassDOT, which usually requests that the town or city conduct a traffic count and speed study. The agency then makes a determination on the need for a change based on that data.

State speed limits are most often set based on a measurement known as the 85th percentile. The 85th percentile is the speed traveled by 85 percent of the cars using a roadway. Traffic engineers assume that 85 percent of the drivers travel at a reasonable and safe speed.

by -

Catch a movie and maybe a fish on Menemsha Beach Tuesday.

A chart-topping 180-pound bigeye tuna brought it in late Saturday afternoon by the crew of Mulberry Canyon is hoisted up and weighed in. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Updated 3 pm, Friday with news of Cape Poge beach closure

By most accounts, The Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic (OBBC) held last weekend went off without a hitch. No shark heads adorned boats, no protestors provided targets for beer cans and if there were arrests I did not hear about it. Pretty tame now after the Monster Shark tournament swam out of town.

Damon Sacco of Bourne, owner and operator of Castafari Sport Fishing and organizer of the Hyannis Tuna Fest, was the organizer of the first Bluewater classic. Ted Rosbeck of Edgartown helped out.

Participants on the boat Mulberry Canyon pose next to their 180-pound Big Eye Tuna after it topped the charts on Saturday.
Participants on the boat Mulberry Canyon pose next to their 180-pound Big Eye Tuna after it topped the charts on Saturday.

A total of 25 boats entered the contest. In an email, Mr. Sacco said the 2014 Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic raised over $14,000 for charity. Proceeds went to the Island Autism Group and the MGH Colon Cancer Research Fund in memory of Kevin Glynn, he said.

Sixteen billfish — four blue marlin and 12 white marlin — were released. One bigeye tuna was landed, as were “a ton of yellowfin and mahi-mahi.”

Captain Al Gagnon of Brennans Grin took first place. Second place went to Captain Ted Rosbeck of Bad Martha. Captain John Galvin of Mulberry Canyon was third.

The biggest tuna was an 180-pound bigeye landed by Mulberry Canyon. Most billfish points went to the crew of Brennans Grin with two blue marlin. Mr. Sacco said there were 46 yellowfin tuna caught up to 95 pounds.

Steve Morris, owner of Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs, participated in the tournament. Steve told me, “It was definitely a lot calmer. Not a lot of yahoos. The guys were nice and it seemed like they were just here to fish.”

The banquet was held at Dreamland. Everybody seemed to be really happy with it, Steve said.

Steve said offshore fishing is an addiction and he admitted he is “totally hooked.”

The tournament weigh in attracted a crowd of spectators to Oak Bluffs harbor.
The tournament weigh in attracted a crowd of spectators to Oak Bluffs harbor.

He explained, “You never know what’s going to be out there, a white marlin or a bigeye tuna, there’s so much out there to catch. We spent the night out there, we turned the lights on and there were squid and bait all around the boat. You just never know what’s going to be out there.”

I suggested it might also be scary to be a little boat in a very big, dark ocean far from land. Steve laughed. “This is true, this is true, that’s why you go in a big boat.”

Steve said they put the lines out Friday night to try and catch a swordfish. Crewmembers took turns sleeping. “There’s usually someone up tending the rods,” Steve said.

“And looking out for a Korean oil tanker?” I asked.

“Well you stay out of their way, for sure,” Steve said.

But they were not alone. They were part of a small fleet all hooked on offshore fishing. That is part of the fun, he said.

First bass of the summer

Matthew Strem of Edgartown holds a 15 pound striped bass he caught Friday night on his new fishing rod.
Matthew Strem of Edgartown holds a 15 pound striped bass he caught Friday night on his new fishing rod.

While the big boys were fishing offshore, Matthew Strem, 10, of Edgartown was trying out his new bass rod on South Beach with his mom and dad. On Friday night Matthew caught his first striped bass of the summer. It was 34.5 inches long and weighed in at 15 pounds.

His mother Lynn provided the details: “We drove on to the beach and used squid on his new bass fishing pole, bottom fishing. Matthew was the first one that night to catch a bass. He was so excited he couldn’t wait for dad to get the tape measure to see if it was a keeper. And it was, 34 inches long and weighed 15 pounds. It was also about 11 pm that night. He caught his fish and reeled it in all by himself, but I wasn’t surprised because Matthew has been fishing for a long time, catching many different fish. Nothing compares to the look on his face when that fish came ashore and it was a huge bass.”

Matthew did very well to land a bass on the beach in the surf. It is no easy task. It takes timing to ride the fish up on a wave. Better yet, he caught a bass. Most reports describe tough fishing for stripers from the shore. Congratulations.

Movie night on Menemsha

All fishermen should be concerned with the state of our oceans. On Tuesday night, fishermen will have an opportunity to learn just how concerned they ought to be — and go fishing.

Documentary filmmaker Bob Nixon, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, and Fisher Stevens have produced a new documentary, MISSION BLUE, which describes the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle. The filmmakers will show their film at 8:30 pm, Tuesday on Menemsha Beach in conjunction with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. The event is free.

Bring popcorn for the film and a fishing rod for later.

Dennis Harvey offered this description in a review for Variety Magazine: “A compelling human-interest hook and spectacular underwater photography are the highlights of Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon’s documentary.”

Mr. Harvey said, “The majesty and imperiled status of the world’s aquatic life are vividly captured in “Mission Blue.” Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon’s documentary also serves as a biographical portrait of internationally renowned oceanographer and eco-activist Sylvia Earle, whose trailblazing career and inspiring ongoing efforts provide compelling human interest, while Bryce Groark’s spectacular underwater photography offers eye candy aplenty.”

Cape Poge beach closure

Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is currently closed for over sand vehicle access from the Dike Bridge to the gut, Chris Kennedy, Trustees superintendent said Friday. “On Tuesday, two plover chicks moved from the outside beach, north of the Dike Bridge to the bayside trail to feed,” Chris said in an email Friday.  “The next day they moved back to the outside beach but now appear likely to continue moving back and forth between the narrows and East Beach. These chicks are due to fledge in two weeks but under state and federal law we will be required to keep all of Cape Poge closed until these chicks fledge. We encourage property users to call the 24 hour recorded beach hotline at 508-627-8390 for updated information. All of Leland Beach and Norton Point Beach are open for OSV access. Permits are required.”

by -
The Inkwell and Pay Beaches in Oak Bluffs have been reopened. — Photo by Alison Shaw

Oak Bluffs health officials Thursday morning reopened Inkwell Beach and Pay Beach in Oak Bluffs, closed since Tuesday because of high bacteria counts.

Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteaux told The Times that the results of water samples taken Wednesday from the two popular beaches along Sea View Avenue showed bacteria levels had fallen within the acceptable limits defined by state regulations.

The water tests detect enterococci, an indicator organism that signals the presence of more harmful bacteria. If more than 104 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water (104 cfu/100ml) are measured in a single day water sample, the beach must be closed to swimming.

On Monday, tests shows the level of bacteria at Inkwell Beach as 450 cfu/100ml, but on Wednesday, the levels had fallen to 10 cfu/100ml.

On Monday, Pay Beach measured 581 cfu/100ml, and fell to 51 cfu/100ml in Wednesday’s test.

The Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health advises that swimming in polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

Most of these symptoms are minor most of the time, but they can occasionally be more serious, especially in sensitive populations such as those with weakened immune systems, children, and the elderly.

by -
Seasons on Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, has been vacant for several seasons. — Nate Horwitz

Seasons, the long dormant restaurant/bar located in the heart of Circuit Avenue, is showing signs of new life. Construction crews have begun work to remove the restaurant and bar equipment and to gut the interior of the 3,000 square foot structure. Bob Murphy, proprietor of Towne and Country real estate and co-owner of the building with James Ryan, his partner in AMR Vineyard Inc., said plans for the new use of the building are still evolving. “It will not be a restaurant or a bar, those two are out,” Mr. Murphy said in a phone conversation with The Times Tuesday. “We decided to keep things simple.”

Newly cleared space awaiting renovation.
Cleared interior awaiting further renovation.

Mr. Murphy said the newly renovated building will most likely be leased to one or several retail businesses, but plans are in the very early stages and they remain fluid.
“We’re taking the time to think it through. It’s too early to know what can go in there and what will work best until the space is cleared out,” he said. “It’s such a commanding location. We’ve been deluged with offers over the years. We’ve heard a lot of great ideas. Some people wanted half the space, some people wanted a third. We’ll see.”

Mr. Murphy said that no exterior work will be done until the downtown building moratorium ends on September 15. He expects the renovation to take three to four months. Oak Bluffs architect Chuck Sullivan, who collaborated with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ryan on the Lookout restaurant, will design the yet to be named business.