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Oak Bluffs

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Girdlestone Park, Oak Bluffs. — Courtesy the collection of Chris Baer

Chris Baer teaches photography and graphic design at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He’s been collecting vintage photographs for many years.

Girdlestone Park

Osgood Mayhew, Bert Bradley, Frank Bodfish, Clyde Mayhew, and Carl Lair pose with their horses, Gano Wilkes, King Benton, Alert, Mable, and Coasterine at Girdlestone Park, Oak Bluffs, about 1909. This popular half-mile circular racetrack, cut out of the scrub oak by local farmer George Smith, was located off Barnes Road not far from the present-day roundabout. Remains of the foundations of the viewing stands can still be seen from the road between the two entrances to Deer Run. It was not saddle horse racing, but rather two-wheeled “sulky races” which drew both horse enthusiasts and gamblers to these popular events. Tourism ads in off-Island newspapers of the time boasted: “Lovers of the harness horse will see some very spirited racing during the season at Girdlestone Park at Martha’s Vineyard.” Girdlestone was only one of two popular Island racetracks, the other being “Whiting’s Farm Trotting Park” located near “Dead Man’s Curve” in West Tisbury, across State Road from the cemetery.

Cap’n George Fred Tilton recalled his days racing (and wagering) at Girdlestone during the winter of 1906-7 as part of a local driving club. “A bunch who were always racing for anything from a plug of tobacco to a sack of oats used to meet pretty regular…. We induced quite a number of men to bring horses from the Cape and New Bedford to race at this track, Girdlestone, and Whiting’s track at West Tisbury.… Fast horses were brought to the Island and faster horses were bought by the Vineyard boys, so that we made a pretty good showing every time we turned out.”

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Beetlebung Oak Bluffs is Circuit Avenue’s hottest new coffee house and lounge.

If you’re going to do something, do it right. That’s John and Renee Molinari’s mentality behind the newest branch of their Beetlebung franchise, set to open on Circuit Avenue on May 31.

The Bittah-Bung, a barrel-aged cocktail batch recipe in 3 liter barrel: Boyd & Blair Vodka, Sandeman Founder's Reserve Port, and Bittermens Boston Bittahs.
The Bittah-Bung, a barrel-aged cocktail batch recipe in 3 liter barrel: Boyd & Blair Vodka, Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Port, and Bittermens Boston Bittahs.

Beetlebung Oak Bluffs has a lot going on. It’s a sun-soaked coffee house, featuring Barrington Coffee beans by day. At night, it slips into its evening attire as a bar and lounge, with a menu by executive chef Jerry Marano, and a creative cocktail list by “the Cocktail Guru” Jonathan Pogash. There’s a lot to drink in, so let’s just focus on the coffee and cocktails.

A latte love

Barrington Coffee, based out of western Massachusetts, is not new to the Island. Beetlebung has been using their beans since 2005, first at their Vineyard Haven location, then in Menemsha. “We were looking for the best coffee beans we could find, quite simply put,” Renee Molinari said. “We wanted it to be close by, so it would be as fresh as possible. We also wanted a partner who would be able to provide training. We were looking for people that were experts at the whole process.” Barrington Coffee owners Gregg Charbonneau and Barth Anderson were exactly those people.

“The vast majority of the coffee we buy comes from very small and often multi-generational family farms,” Mr. Charbonneau said. “The coffee is carefully tended every step of the way, picked and processed by hand.”

Every harvest season, Mr. Charbonneau and Mr. Anderson pick out beans from Kenya, Guatemala, Sumatra, and Hawaii and bring them into their tasting facility. They pick out beans to offer consistently year-round, as well as “unique and interesting coffees we might only offer for a week, a month, six months,” Mr. Charbonneau said. “We’re willing to pay the price that lets these farms do what they do.”

When Beetlebung calls in a coffee order, Barrington roasts it on demand, and ships it the same day. Nothing is warehoused or roasted ahead of time.

Barrington has trained the staff at Beetlebung to pay the same attention to making a cup of coffee. “There’s so much that goes into it, so much that can get screwed up,” Mr. Charbonneau said. “It’s a miracle anyone can get it right sometimes.”

Thai Basil Blackberry Tea: Thai Basil Syrup, blackberries, fresh lemon juice, and house-made iced tea.
Thai Basil Blackberry Tea: Thai Basil Syrup, blackberries, fresh lemon juice, and house-made iced tea.

Water quality, for instance, is one of the most overlooked factors in the brewing process. But it’s also the easiest way to ruin a cup of coffee, according to Emma Blair, coffee manager at Beetlebung Oak Bluffs. Beetlebung has installed a water filtration system to ensure quality, which Ms. Blair tests regularly. They’ve also made the switch to bottomless portafilters, a device that allows baristas to see that the espresso shot they’re pulling has the correct color.

Then there’s the water temperature to be considered. And the ratio of coffee to water. And the length of time the water is in contact with the coffee. And the coarseness of the grounds.

“What’s going to set us apart is the knowledge that goes into getting our beans and delivering a cup of coffee,” Ms. Blair said. “It starts with proper training. And exciting a passion in the baristas.”

Beetlebung’s baristas undergo a rigorous two-week training process, which includes a 54-page manual and a four-page training checklist. “It’s very technical,” said Ms. Molinari said. “There’s a science to it. You have to really understand what you’re doing, and you have to be able to troubleshoot and problem solve.”

And you have to do it all with a certain flair. The perfectly swirled “latte art” that each barista signs onto their espresso and steamed milk beverages is insurance that they’ve done their job right. “It’s not just cool looking and pretty, it’s also a control device for the coffee,” Mr. Charbonneau said. “You can’t make this beautiful thing if the components aren’t just right. The milk has to be aerated and textured just so, the temperature has to be perfect, the espresso has to be pulled right, otherwise it won’t work. It’s not just cool, it means your drink has been made properly.”

A cocktail tale

The evening drinks at Beetlebung are new to the Island, but they are crafted with the same attention to detail.

When vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard two summers ago, beverage consultant Jonathan Pogash noticed an empty storefront on Circuit Avenue that he felt would lend itself to an upscale lounge, so he offered his services to the Molinaris.

Mr. Pogash’s vision for the Beetlebung Oak Bluffs bar menu was a “farm to bar” concept. That includes using fresh juices, local herbs, and organic ingredients whenever possible. Mr. Pogash draws his inspiration from local markets, choosing ingredients in peak seasonality. “It really is about fresh ingredients,” he said. “It should look, taste, and smell appealing.” He added, “It’s the whole package deal. It’s not only drinks that taste nice, they have a nice presentation, there’s a story behind them, and it’s a conversation starter.”

Matching the drinks to the atmosphere of the lounge was key to designing the menu. “What always inspires me is the locale, the vibe of the place and the concept,” Mr. Pogash said. “Through many discussions with Renee and John, we were able to really focus in on what these cocktails should look like and taste like.” The decor, the music, and the lighting all influenced which drinks should be served.

Not to mention the food. “People are going to love how well the food works with drinks,” Mr. Pogash said. “It’s going to be seamless, you can order any drink so it will work with any meal. For those interested in food and drink pairings, it’s going to be awesome.”

Some of the cocktails offered at the new Beetlebung play off Mr. Pogash’s love for savory herbs. “The Flying Dutchman” uses a house blueberry-thyme syrup. Beetlebung is also offering an A&P cocktail (a nod to the building’s history as the home of the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company), which includes muddled sage with an apricot peach house syrup.

In addition to creating the menu, Mr. Pogash trained Beetlebung’s bartenders to ensure quality control. “You can have the fanciest cocktail in the world, but your bartenders need to know how to make it right,” he said.

The training, which includes an emphasis on customer hospitality, will also cover cocktail history. “A lot of drinks are versions of classic cocktails, so it’s key to know where they came from and how to make them,” Mr. Pogash said. “We’re even using steel straws so the drink stays cold while you’re sipping it.”

Oh, and don’t think your caffeine buzz has to die when Beetlebung makes its shift to the evening lounge. The barbacks double as trained baristas, so orders for espresso cocktails can be expertly filled.

For more information, visit beetlebung.com.

See the boats come in and go out again…with music by the Vineyard Haven Band.

Videographer Dick Iacovello set up his camera on the third story of the Wesley Hotel this past Memorial Day weekend, and the result is a fun timelapse of the Oak Bluffs harbor filling up with boats, then emptying again. You can also see the Memorial Day Road Race jog by.

Dick Iacovello, who created the time lapse video of Oak Bluffs Harbor, on the third-story porch of the Wesley House.
Dick Iacovello, who created the time lapse video of Oak Bluffs Harbor, on the third-story porch of the Wesley House.

To capture the action, Mr. Iacovello used a Brinno TLC 200, set to take one photo per minute from Friday, May 23 at noon, to Monday, May 26, at 6 pm. (We sped the video up to about 400 percent, and added music by the Vineyard Haven Band).

Mr. Iacovello has also done timelapse work of flowers growing, and the assembly of Seeker the Scow, which you can see on his Facebook page.

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Jason Gruner and Tracy Briscoe, the new owners of Benito's, describe the newly renovated shop as "1940s retro meets New York City metro." — Ralph Stewart

New life has been sprouting all over Circuit Avenue this spring. As new businesses like Beetlebung are putting down roots, long-established enterprises like the Lampost are making a statement with head-turning renovations.

New ownership has also breathed new life into one of the best-known businesses on the block — Benito’s Hair Styling, a Circuit Ave. institution that until last year was owned and operated by Benito Mancinone. Known to locals as Benny, Mr. Mancinone operated the business for 22 years.

Even though it's just a pen and ink portrait, it appears Benito Mancinone, aka, Benny, is still keeping a close eye on his shop.
Even though it’s just a pen and ink portrait, it appears Benito Mancinone, aka, Benny, is still keeping a close eye on his shop.

Last summer, Tracy Briscoe and her brother, Jason Gruner, took ownership of the shop. Per Benny’s wishes, they kept the barber shop spirit intact.

“We call it 1940s retro meets New York City metro,” Ms. Briscoe said, while she worked on a client. “I wanted to bring the old school back. Having the hot lather neck shave and massage and a hot towel, that’s how they used to do it. It takes a little more time, but that’s how I like to do it.”

Ms. Briscoe started working summers at Benito’s in 1993, two years after Mr. Mancinone opened his doors, and she returned almost every summer, and a few winters as well. She also has worked in high-end salons in New York City, Naples, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.

Family affair

Fittingly, the change of ownership at Benito’s all started with a haircut. I was getting my haircut in November 2012 and Benny says I’ll tell you something, don’t tell anyone: I’m going to retire,” Mr. Gruner, an entrepreneur who splits his time between Naples, Fla., and Chappaquiddick, recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t want this to become a gift shop or an ice cream store. Think your sister would be interested in taking over?’”

“Benny knew Tracy is very good at what she does and she’s very personable,” Mr. Gruner said. “He knew if she took it over it wasn’t going to be a gift shop,”

“I knew for a long time she was going to take it over,” Mr. Mancinone said in his thick Italian accent, on a telephone interview with the Times from his new home in Clinton, Connecticut. “She worked with me a long time. I couldn’t get rid of her, she’s like a tick,” he joked.

“He was Papa Benito,” Ms. Briscoe said fondly.  “He never called me Tracy. It was either ‘that girl’ or ‘Fifi.’”

A new look

On July 1, 2013, Ms. Briscoe and Mr. Gruner took ownership of Benito’s. In late February of this year, Mr. Gruner and his 18-year-old son, Jason Jr., gutted it and along with Ms. Briscoe, gave Benito’s an entirely new look.

The DNA hasn’t changed. The hardwood floors and black and white tiled walls harken back to a previous era. There are posters of Vargas girls, framed Boston Globe front pages from all the Patriots Super Bowl wins, and a pen and ink sketch portrait of Benny, peering down over his bifocals, overseeing the proceedings.

The walls in the front of the shop are papered with thousands of old baseball and football cards, which Mr. Gruner and his son applied by hand. A quick look shows the cards of Roger Clemens, Tony Gwynn, and Jim Plunkett, all barely old enough to shave. “A guy told me there’s at least a thousand dollars worth of cards up there,” Mr. Gruner said. “Only Tracy knows how many there are. I lost count.”

Ms. Briscoe said the first person to guess the number of cards will win three free haircuts. “So far, no one has been close,” she said.

While the vibe is traditional, the amenities in the new Benitos are 21st century. Gone is the limited selection of outdated magazines. Now, a magazine rack overflows with current publications geared for a distinctly male clientele. There are flat screen TVs playing ESPN, and a popcorn machine adds a pleasant aroma.

The old Benito’s had “unisex” on the window, but the waiting room was usually all male, sometimes ten deep — men waiting for a cut or boys waiting for their first wiffle of the summer.  Ms. Briscoe is intent on expanding the female clientele, in particular, wedding parties. “I’ve done hundreds of weddings,” she said, referring to her 10 years managing the Naples Beach Club. Ms. Briscoe says she has plans to open a new business will cater solely to the booming bridal business on Martha’s Vineyard. For now, she’s got a steady stream of customers at the new Benito’s, where, unlike the old Benito’s, you can make an appointment. “His clients who used to say ‘no’ to me come to me now,” Ms. Briscoe said.

Benny lives on

Although Benny is gone, his imprint is everywhere in the new shop. His original barber chair sits in the front window, along with some of his tools of the trade. The original barber poll still spins outside and the old sign still hangs in the window.  A 1954 clock from his Springfield shop with inverted numbering — so clients can read it in the mirror — hangs on the wall.

And Mr. Mancinone still keeps tabs on the place. “He calls every Saturday to make an appointment with himself,” Ms. Briscoe said, shaking her head with a smile as she deftly shaved a client with a straight edge razor.

“I  hate to say goodbye when I leave,” Mr. Mancione said about his departure from the Vineyard. “I have no regrets. I can’t say enough about the place and the time I had there.”

Although Mr. Mancinone says he doesn’t like to look back, he quickly shares some fond memories of fishing with his friend Ed Jerome. “I used to fish from five to seven, then get a shower and go to work. I caught some nice fish, 34-pound stripers, but 11 years fishing the Derby, I never got a bite, not even a bite. My wife wanted to know if I was fishing or not.”

Today Mr. Mancinone plays raquetball, keeps abreast of world soccer, especially his team, Inter Milan, and he goes fishing. “I’d like to cut hair a few days, but I don’t have a license in Connecticut and it takes like three months to get it.”

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The Oak Bluffs water tower, shown in this photo in March, is getting a much needed paint job. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Oak Bluffs Water District superintendent Kevin Johnson is asking Oak Bluffs residents to minimize their water consumption and to curtail lawn watering for the next four weeks until a project to paint the town’s main water tank is complete and the tower is back in operation.

The tower has been out of service since February when a planned painting and maintenance project began. Completion has been delayed by bad weather and higher than normal winds. A connection with Edgartown Water has helped compensate for the lost storage capacity and to date there has been no noticeable change in service to customers. However a sharp increase in demand tied to the influx of tourists and seasonal residents could result in lower water pressure to customers in the higher elevations of town if residents don’t conserve water.

“We ask that all water customers be cognizant of the situation and ask their help until the system is back to full capacity,” Mr. Johnson said Friday.

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Angry Oak Bluffs residents stage protest and attend selectmen’s meeting en masse; quick action promised by town officials.

Protestors took to the beaches Monday morning. — courtesy Ewell Hopkins

Angry about the dredge spoils that were placed on Inkwell Beach in February to stem the erosion from a turbulent winter, a small but vociferous group of Oak Bluffs residents staged a protest at the beach on Monday, demanding action by town officials. The protesters stopped the raking and dispersal of the material by Watercourse Construction of Vineyard Haven.

Highway department supervisor Richard Combra arrived at the site, and after the backhoes retreated, he assured the protesters that the situation would be remedied. At the meeting of the Oak Bluffs selectmen Tuesday night, town officials assured residents that the dredge spoils would be removed.

Town officials had hoped that the material dredged from the Lagoon channel, which is dark in color and clay-like in texture, would bleach out by summer. But with Memorial Day less than a week away, the material is still dark and clay-like, and warming temperatures were also bringing out a distinctly foul bouquet.

On Tuesday night, some of those who had taken part in the demonstration at the Inkwell attended the meeting of the selectmen. Chairman Greg Coogan quickly diffused the tension in the room by announcing, to a round of applause, that the dredge spoils would be removed from the Inkwell.

“With the help of Liz Durkee and Richie Combra, we’re going to pile up the sand from the Inkwell beach and the highway department is going to truck it to temporary location,” he said. “Where it will permanently go has yet to be determined, but we’ll make sure it’s off the beach as soon as the crews can pick it up.”

After the applause died down, conservation commission agent Liz Durkee addressed the crowd. “I just want to make it clear that this is being moved for aesthetic reasons,” she said.  Ms. Durkee reiterated that the beach nourishment plan twice passed all tests by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which are some of the strictest in the nation.

As she listed the numerous materials that the state tested for, Ms. Durkee was interrupted several times by catcalls from angry townspeople. Mr. Coogan twice had to call the meeting to order. “It is safe beach sand,” Ms. Durkee concluded, to more grumbling from the crowd.

Shellfish constable Dave Grunden, visibly frustrated at the turnaround, asked the selectmen to define what beach nourishment standards should be in the future. “Clearly the people want us to go above and beyond. I don’t know a stricter standard than we have here,” he said. “These beaches are not just for recreation. They also protect the infrastructure of the town and the road. Next time we can just let the beaches erode way.”

Town administrator Robert Whritenour stepped in to calm the waters. “We’re absolutely committed to rectifying the situation,” he said. “I also ask you to respect Liz’s point. We made sure there was no public health risk, although when you look at it and smell it, it’s clear that it’s just not compatible with our beach.”

Mr. Whritenour said that the town is severely constrained by state law when it comes to battling erosion. “We all know there’s beautiful clean sand shoaling offshore but the state won’t let us dig it up,” he said. “We’re working with the state. Storms are getting worse and we want to make the commitment so the beaches will be here in the future.”

Highway department supervisor Richard Combra addressed those in the room and said there were no “shady” motives behind the situation. “We did this with the best intentions,” he said. “We’re doing our best to keep the beach from eroding. Obviously a mistake was made. We shouldn’t have put it there and we’re going to remove it and rectify the situation.” The crowd applauded Mr. Combra.

Selectman Gail Barmakian, who said she was present at the Monday demonstration to lend her support, said she had read a 30-page document on the DEP website regarding beach nourishment. “They’re not looking at color or aesthetics, which explains why it passed the tests,” she said. “But it also states the material should come from as close to the location as possible.”

Mr. Coogan said there were plans to dredge sand from the channel at Little Bridge and place that sand at the Inkwell sometime in early June. However, Mr. Grunden raised a new complication with that previously discussed tactic, namely that there was no FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funding in place for the Little Bridge dredging. “So it’s going to be a while,” Mr. Grunden said.

When the selectmen left the meeting room to go into executive session to discuss another hot topic, the investigation into the action of council on aging director Roger Wey, many of those in the room remained.

Newly elected planning board member Ewell Hopkins filled the vacuum and conducted an informal meeting on Inkwell beach. Former selectman Kerry Scott said she had read all the pertinent DEP documents and had concluded that Mr. Whritenour’s assertions were wrong. “It was only approved for a lined landfill or an asphalt plant and we learned that the asphalt plant wasn’t interested,” she said. “It would have cost $105,000 to ship it away. It was cheaper to dump it on our beach.”

Steven Auerbach, chairman of the finance committee, took issue with Ms. Scott’s allegations. “I find it hard to believe that Liz Durkee and Dave Grunden and Richie Combra would dump toxic sand on our beach,” he said. “Their intentions are always for the good of the town. Let’s not go overboard.”

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An excavator Thursday makes way for a new Oak Bluffs bowling alley. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Demolition has begun on the long abandoned former laundromat on Uncas Avenue to make way for a new bowling alley/entertainment center. The new entertainment center will house 10 bowling lanes, a bar, a restaurant, two golf simulators, a game room, an event room and two apartments that will qualify as affordable housing.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved the entertainment complex in March.

The long-abandoned laundromat on Uncas Ave awaits its demise.
The long-abandoned laundromat on Uncas Ave awaits its demise.

Developer and architect Sam Dunn estimates the construction costs will be around $2.5 million. Mr. Dunn hopes to have the excavation, concrete work and plumbing completed by mid-summer. “We have a very complicated footing and foundation situation, “ he said Thursday.

If all goes well, exterior construction of the steel modular building will begin in August. “We’re going to try our hardest to be open by the holidays,” Mr. Dunn said.

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Good news comes against a backdrop of concern highlighted in a recent update report.

Recent engineers' reports describe rapid erosion of East Chop Bluff. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

At Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reversed its initial rejection on funding to repair the East Chop Bluff, so the town is now eligible for public assistance under the Hurricane Sandy disaster declaration. Town officials had made repeated appeals to FEMA since the initial decision, citing at least 12 instances over the past 100 years when federal assistance paid for repairs to the bluff.

Mr. Whritenour said the vote at this year’s town meeting to approve the town’s acquisition of the bluff from the East Chop Association, which was also a reversal of a previous decision, helped turn the tide. “A major stumbling block was who has the legal authority over the property. Now it’s clearly public assistance for the public good.” Mr. Whritenour said.

The scope of the repairs and subsequent funding will be determined in further negotiations with FEMA. “It’s a negative that we have to wait, but there are potential benefits,” Mr. Whritenour said, noting that the original request was only to restore the bluff and was not a long-term solution.

The good news from FEMA comes against a backdrop of increased concern about the condition of the bluff. At the request of Oak Bluffs conservation commission agent Liz Durkee, CLE engineering, the firm that made an emergency inspection of the bluff in November 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, recently returned to the Island to update their findings. They determined that the already crumbling corniche has seriously deteriorated.

“The inspection revealed continuing deterioration along the toe of slope, slope sections and the top of slope along the roadway,” the report, dated April 17, stated. The report noted “increased section slope failure as evident by sloughing of sediment and the development of horizontal cracks running parallel to the roadway.…”

Natural erosion continues to eat away at the middle slope, the report said.

“CLE affirms our previous recommendation dated November 2, 2012 to close the seaward lane along East Chop Drive and monitor the remaining coastal bank for weakened areas. Please note that increased growth of summer vegetation may hamper visual inspection of the coastal bank and lack of clear visual evidence of slope failure does not indict a stable coastal bank.”

“I was told it’s getting critical and it should be checked after every storm,” selectman and East Chop resident Walter Vail said. “We need to be very careful.”

Oak Bluffs conservation commission chairman Joan Hughes said her conversation with CLE engineer Carlos Pena took on a dire tone. “He said the bluff could be another Washington,” she said, referring to the March 22 landslide in Oso, Washington.

At the May 28 meeting of the roads and byways committee, a number of options, including a total closure of the road between Brewster Ave. and Munroe Ave. will be discussed, according to Mr. Vail.

Bay State Regional Controls of Yarmouth Port, is busy installing two 1,500-gallon fuel tanks on Oak Bluffs harbor. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 8:25 am, Thursday

This summer, Oak Bluffs harbormaster Todd Alexander will no longer have to field a steady stream of complaints from boaters about the lack of available fuel in the Island’s biggest marina. Instead, he’ll be able to point them to the new, town-owned fuel facility, due to open June. The final inspection will take place on June 16 and the facility will be in operation soon thereafter. “We haven’t had reliable fuel here in years,” Mr. Alexander said. “The marina used to have two suppliers, now we have none. The last few years we were wheeling in gas in big containers that we filled up at local gas stations. Every day, I’d get calls from boaters saying ‘What do you mean you don’t have fuel?’”

The new 10,000-gallon facility was slated to open on May 15, but Bay State Regional Controls of Yarmouth Port, contractors for the job, were delayed two weeks due to uncooperative weather on a previous project, according to Mr. Alexander. When completed, one 10,000-gallon tank will be installed underground.

Church’s pier, the longtime monopoly in the marina, has not pumped gas since 2012 when the fire department shut it down after a fuel spill. At town meeting in April 2013, Oak Bluffs voters approved a $426,000 expenditure to fund the long-discussed town-owned facility, which was put on the back burner in the economic downturn. The winning bid from Bay State Controls was $25,000 less than the approved funds.

The marina is one of the biggest income generators for Oak Bluffs. In fiscal year 2014 (FY 14), it brought in $951,012, an increase of almost $20,000 over FY 13. Town officials have expressed a high degree of confidence that the facility will pay for itself in short order. The selectmen will eventually select the fuel supplier.

Mr. Alexander said three people will be trained to work at the facility, which will require one or two more seasonal hires. He expects the depot to stay open until early November. “We’ve been planning this for a long time,” he said. “We think it’s eventually going to be very successful.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that two fuel tanks, not one, would be installed partially above ground and be screened by fencing. One tank will be installed underground.

Megan-AlleyOak Bluffs is different these days and not just in appearance. Entering Circuit Avenue you will sense a feeling of excitement and anticipation as if awaiting special guests. People are scraping, painting, and repairing their buildings, conversing with the neighbors regarding how great everything is looking and how Oak Bluffs is becoming brand-new. It seems as if it only took the Lamppost renovation and encouragement from the town to inspire other shop owners to spruce up. The newness ranges from complete renovations to something as simple as sparkling clean display windows, but it all works, folks. Keep up the good work. I love to see the new looks and the new attitudes along the street.

Students from the MV Regional High School are the latest guest curators to open an exhibit in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum Spotlight Gallery. Students from Corinne Kurtz’s Women’s Studies class have spent months studying the history of female criminal activity on the Island, and will now debut their work in the form of an exhibit entitled, “Women and Crime: Victims and Perpetrators,” which will open at the museum on Monday, May 19, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm for parents, families, and the general public. Admission is free to all and the exhibit will be up through June 1.

On Tuesday, May 20, Thomas Dresser and co-writers Herb Foster and Jay Schofield will speak at the Oak Bluffs Library about their new book, “Martha’s Vineyard in World War II.” The talk will start at 6:30 pm. They will talk about the old days on Circuit Avenue, and memories of the war effort. Then on Saturday, May 24, they will be signing copies of the book on the front porch of Edgartown Books.

Are you as bewildered as I am regarding Twitter? If so, come to the Oak Bluffs Library and learn the basics of Twitter with Miki Wolfe at 1 pm, Thursday, May 29.

Current superintendent of schools James Weiss and past superintendent Peter Palches will present a program based on the question, “Would Regionalization Improve Our Schools?” The program will be held at the Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters, Martha’s Vineyard chapter, on Sunday, May 18, 1–3 pm, at Howes House in West Tisbury. The question will be posed by all, not just League members. The afternoon will begin with a free buffet brunch at 1 pm, followed by a short board meeting at 1:30, and the keynote presentation at 1:45. A question and answer period will follow.

Staff from Vineyard Nursing of Cape Cod, Veterans Services, Sostek, Greater Boston Health Care, Elder Services, Hope Healthcare and others will present a panel discussion on services for seniors and caregivers at the Tisbury Senior Center, 34 Pine Tree Road, Vineyard Haven on Monday, May 19, from 4 to 5:30 pm. It’s free and open to the public, but please call ahead to register, 508-696-4205.

Please take time to remember and make a donation if you can to Islanders Helping Islanders Fund where a fund has been set up to help Ellie Hanjian, and Ray and Tessa Whitaker and Laurel Redington Whitaker who were all injured in a car accident on April 29 while returning home from vacation. The group is facing long months of healing and rehab, so we need to send them healing prayers and help out with their expenses, if possible.

We sent birthday smiles to Andrew Farrissey, Louise Dahil, Heidi Jardin on the 18th, Bob Kinnecom, Keith Crossland, and Jaime and John Pachico on the 20th, Annette Moreis and Viviane Destefani on the 21st, and Doreen Anderson on the 22nd.

Enjoy your week. Peace.

Got Oak Bluffs news? Share it with Megan at: mvtimes.com/staff/megan-alley/ .