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Tisbury

The popular Vineyard Haven boutique will make its final sale on Saturday.

Daisy Kimberly is closing Alley Cat, after 25 years selling women's clothing and shoes on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. – Photos by Michael Cummo

After 25 years on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, countless women sent home with stylish new outfits, and many lifelong friendships made, Daisy Kimberly will close the doors of Alley Cat on Saturday, Jan. 31. She calls her upscale women’s clothing and shoe store a “destination boutique,” because so many of her customers make special trips, including many from off-Island, to shop at the 66 Main Street location.

Her secret for keeping a successful business going in a highly seasonal economy, through economic boom and bust, for a quarter of a century?

“Dogged determination, and denial,” Ms. Kimberly said this week as she prepared for her final few days open for business. While she won’t be retiring, she hasn’t settled on the next chapter of her life yet.

“Nobody can do anything forever. I have put, for 25 years, all of my creative energies, all of my thought, all of my efforts into this store. I’m kind of curious to see what might emerge from that.”

Ms. Kimberly said there was a collision of coincidences large and small that caused her to step back and evaluate the business climate.

“It has been a dodgy couple of years in terms of sales,” she said. “I think the Internet may have been a factor. I just found that when I thought about going back to New York and buying again, it was with a sigh of resignation, and when I thought, what if I just didn’t do it, I got really elated. A lot of possibilities emerged from that.”

She took other coincidences as a signal that it was time to close the shop. She rented a parking space from Beadniks on Church Street for 30 years, but when that business closed last spring, she lost her spot. Her building needed a new heat pump, and the installation behind the store took the space of a small courtyard where she and her employees took breaks. She made a mental list of the pluses and minuses of another year in business.

“What I won’t miss is a little bit longer than what I will miss,” she said.

Customers had an unusually close bond with the store and its owner. Ms. Kimberly said several longtime patrons came to the store in tears when they heard the news that she would close the doors for good.

Alley-Cat-Closing-2.JPG“I have a really solid corps of really loyal customers,” she said. “I like to make it a cross between a personal dressing room and a clubhouse. One of my friends called it a combination of psychology and show biz. We’ve been therapists in here, we’ve been medical advisors at times. We’ve heard many super-personal stories from people. It’s pretty great.”

Many customers looked forward to the annual Alley Cat “yard sale” in March. She and her friends bring in some of their “gently used” clothing for resale, along with marked-down merchandise left over from the previous season. This year, she is moving the yard sale up to the final two days she is open, Friday, Jan. 30, and Saturday, Jan. 31.

“It’s usually a madhouse for two days in March,” she said. “But I won’t be here, so why not move it up?”

After a successful start, the business operator said, he was unable to negotiate a workable lease agreement.

James Goff and Tanya Chipperfield will no longer operate Bob's Pizza, on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. –Photo by Michael Cummo

James Goff and Tanya Chipperfield, who began operating Bob’s Pizza on Main Street in Vineyard Haven in midsummer, closed the popular eatery this week. Mr. Goff said he was unable to come to a lease agreement with the building owner, Chris Sze LLC.

Soon after Mr. Goff and Ms. Chipperfield began serving pizza and sandwiches, word spread through word of mouth and social media that the fare was much improved.

“The response from the Island and Main Street was incredible,” Mr. Goff said. “That showed me how desperate the town is for quality. It was like wildfire; we were popular right away.”

Mr. Goff said the building owner asked for rent that began at $60,000, with incremental increases to $78,000 over an eight-year period. Mr. Goff said the owner also wanted a $25,000 lease fee for each of the first two years of the lease.

“The more we crunched the numbers, the more out of whack the reality seemed to me,” Mr. Goff said. “When I plugged them into a model for running a responsible business, they didn’t match up. Call me crazy, but those numbers don’t match up to me.”

Mr. Goff said he is actively looking for a new location, and hopes to be back in business soon.

“We have an army of Islanders ready to follow us to our next location,” he said. “I’ve got a storage unit full of stuff. The company is formed — we need a roof.”

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Mr. Sze said said he is working with other potential tenants for next season.

“We can’t get a deal, so we’re waiting for next year,” Mr. Sze said. He declined to confirm the terms of the proposed lease with Mr. Goff.

“That’s between me and him, I don’t have any comment on that,” Mr. Sze said. But he added, “$60,000 a year is not a lot, with taxes and everything included, it’s not much.”

The original online version of this article incorrectly reported that Bob’s Pizza is looking for a new location. The restaurant will not move, the most recent operators, James Goff and Tanya Chipperfield, are looking for another location to open a new restaurant. 

Spelling Bee champion Owen Morris, center, stands with his mother, Stacey Morris, and Tisbury School principal John Custer.

Tisbury School eighth grader Owen Porterfield claimed victory in the 2015 Tisbury School geography bee on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Owen correctly answered “Kenya” to the question, “National Geographic explorer Shivani Bhalla works with warriors in the local Samburu community to protect lions south of Lake Turkana in which African country?”

Owen will next take a written test that will determine eligibility for competition at the state level. The 2015 National Geographic Society Bee national championship is scheduled for May 11–13 in Washington, D.C.

Seventh grader Peter Burke competed against Owen in the championship round. Other students who earned a spot in the school finals were Nico Arroyo (grade 5), Ruairi Mullin (5), Owen Steenkamp (6), Ashtyn Watts (6), Henry Warner (7), and Christian King (8).

Social studies teachers Sean DeBettencourt (grades 5-6) and Reuben Fitzgerald (grades 7-8) conducted classroom competitions in December with their classes.

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The Tisbury planning board and selectmen will host a public meeting at 7 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the Tisbury Senior Center to provide an update on the town’s vision-planning process. They also plan to identify priority projects and set an agenda for elected officials, town committees, and community groups.

Last fall, the planning board conducted a series of community workshops where participants discussed community values, the town’s strengths and areas of concern, and a shared vision for the future. At next week’s meeting the planning board plans to review the vision-planning process findings, present action steps based on those findings, and seek community opinions on what should be short- and long-term actions.

“Over the coming years, elected officials in the town will face a number of important issues, and may need to make critical decisions to protect environmental resources and address the scale, scope, and location of community infrastructure while responding to projected steadily rising sea levels,” the planning board explained in a flier sent out with real estate tax bills last month. “A vision plan created through broad community participation will establish a framework to guide town decisions and enable us to take advantage of future development and funding opportunities.”

At an October workshop, community members listed 61 places, characteristics, and traditions in Tisbury that they consider treasures and want to preserve. They also identified eight conditions that present a problem or limitation for Tisbury, as well as six favorable conditions that could create opportunities on which the town can build. In November, workshop participants focused on four areas of opportunity, which included the working waterfront; downtown Vineyard Haven; pedestrian and bike circulation; and parks, beaches, and open space.

A detailed summary of the first workshop, the current draft vision statement, and a survey for those who didn’t participate in the workshops are available via links on the town’s web site at tisburyma.gov. To receive future email updates, send your email address to visionplan@tisburyma.gov.

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

Five Corners

An ad for the 1925 Greta Nissen drama “The Wanderer” adorns a corner lot on Vineyard Haven’s Five Corners.

On the left is the Dukes County Garage, originally owned by LeGrand Lockwood Aldrich and later by William G. Manter. Under one metal roof, Manter had a parts department, an electrical department, a car-painting department, and a repair department (for both auto and marine engines), together with his contracting business and house-painting business.

The building to the right was moved here in 1923 from its original location behind the stone bank. It had been built as a leather-novelty manufacturing factory for the short-lived Luxemoor Leather company, employing some 75 leather workers under the direction of owner William Barry Owen. The late Stan Lair recalled: “We used to play basketball in this building when it was behind the bank in the old location, and we had to shoot the ball over the supporting beams which ran across the building. It wasn’t an ideal place to play, but we had to play there because there was no gyms in those days. Also on each end, so the spectators wouldn’t get hurt, there was chicken wire put up there. I don’t know how many people got hurt on that chicken wire, with cut fingers and so forth. But, we used to play there, and enjoy it, and had good times.” In its new location, the Dukes County Garage used the building for offices and showrooms for Manter’s Buick and Chevrolet dealership. The second floor, originally a customs office, was leased to the Navy during World War II to house Navy personnel.

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Tisbury selectmen Tuesday heard some harsh words from the harbormaster about DPW maintenance.

Tisbury selectmen Tuesday appointed Lieutenant Joseph Tierney Jr. to assistant fire chief. – Photo by Michael Cummo

On the recommendation of Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling, Tisbury selectmen Tuesday approved the appointment of Lieutenant Joseph Tierney Jr. to assistant fire chief.

He will replace longtime Assistant Chief Russell Maciel, who along with Captain Daniel Feeney announced his retirement.

Chief Schilling praised Lieutenant Tierney’s qualifications, noting he was the department’s training officer and oversaw the construction of the town’s new emergency-services facility.

“No matter what he became involved with, Joe would quickly rise to the top with a combination of commitment, dedication, and hard work,” Chief Schilling said.

Lieutenant Tierney was sworn in before the audience and selectmen by town clerk Hillary Conklin. Selectman chairman Jonathan Snyder presented Captain Feeney and Assistant Chief Maciel with commemorative plaques honoring their years of service.

Chief Schilling described Maciel as “dependable, humble, loyal, and above all else, dedicated.” Citing a succession of Maciel family members in captain’s positions since 1968, the chief fondly described the fire department’s ladder company as a Maciel family business that Russell Maciel happened to join in 1970.

Chief Schilling said Captain Feeney “nurtured and developed a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie amongst his crew, and as a true leader should, he left his company stronger than when he began and provided for a smooth transition.”

“It was an honor to serve this town and the chief,” Captain Feeney said.

All three firefighters received a standing ovation, and shook hands with the selectmen and several members of the Tisbury Fire Department, who formed a line to congratulate them.

DPW letdown

It was not all smiles Tuesday night. Town Harbormaster Jay Wilbur expressed frustration with the town department of public works for what he said was a failure to address dockside property in need of repair. Mr. Wilbur requested a boost in harbor-department funding for a part-time staffer, who he said could do what the DPW was not doing.

“We have a staff member that has the skills,” he said, “and I’m not sure that the DPW staff has those skills, because I’ve never seen them, hardly, carry them out. Here we are one of the gateways to our town, and half the summer the doors are falling off the bathrooms and they’re not painted, and there’s water leaking.”

Selectman Tristan Israel expressed irritation with what he heard. “I don’t think you should be spending your money, the way the town is set up today, on that,” he said. “That’s nothing to do with your department; it has to do with maintenance in town in general, to tell you the truth. I hate to see our harbor department’s money going toward that kind of stuff when the DPW budget is enormous.”

In other business, assistant to the town administrator Aase Jones said she was inundated with meeting minutes, and requested the selectmen consider funding to properly archive them.

Selectmen considered options, which included binding the minutes and digital records. After some discussion, selectmen agreed that the issue of data storage deserved further study.

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Scalloping is a frigid business. – File photo by Alison Shaw

A scallop boat operated by Andrew Wheeler swamped and sank in Lagoon Pond on New Year’s Day, Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur told The Times.

Mr. Wilbur said shellfish warden Danielle Ewart called him about 2 pm to report Mr. Wheeler was in the frigid water. As Mr. Wilbur responded in his boat to the emergency, he received a second call from Ms. Ewart to say another scalloper, Will Diamond, had pulled Mr. Wheeler aboard his own boat, and was headed for shore.

“At least the person was OK, but that left the boat swamped in the pond,” Mr. Wilbur said. Using the town’s patrol boat, Mr. Wilbur was able to tow the swamped vessel back to the landing. He said there were was no fuel spill or other pollution.

“I’m happy that everyone was safe and everything went smooth,” Ms. Ewart told The Times.

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he sign visitors see at the corner of Water and Union streets as they exit the ferry in Vineyard Haven will be made more welcoming with some new lettering and a facelift, the Tisbury selectmen agreed at a meeting this week. –Photo by Michael Cummo

The Tisbury selectmen met in regular session Tuesday night, following an executive session that included two department of public works (DPW) grievance hearings.

Selectmen Jon Snyder (chairman) and Melinda Loberg approved a request from roofing contractor Christopher Cottrell to close Center Street for two weekdays in order to replace the roof on the building where Mardell’s gift store is located. Mr. Cottrell was instructed to coordinate the project with emergency services departments, the building and zoning department, and abutters. He said the work would be scheduled subject to weather, and take place between 8 am and 4 pm on two consecutive days.

Ms. Loberg brought up the subject of ocean sand mining and concerns raised by Islanders about possible areas for a pilot program the state is considering between the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard and Cuttyhunk. She and Mr. Snyder voted to ask town administrator Jay Grande to draft a letter to the state outlining Tisbury’s concerns.

In other business, the selectmen voted to reappoint George Balco as Tisbury’s representative to the Steamship Authority’s Port Council for a term of two years. They also approved a three-year contract, with an option for an additional two years, with the town’s longstanding auditors, Scanlon and Associates.

In addition, the selectmen discussed and approved a letter drafted by the Planning Board regarding the town’s design preferences for improvements to Beach Road proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

At Planning Board chairman Dan Seidman’s suggestion, the selectmen agreed to ask the department of public works to spruce up and replace missing letters on the sign that welcomes visitors to Vineyard Haven near the Steamship Authority.

Mr. Snyder noted that Selectman Tristan Israel was absent, due to illness, but is on the mend. “I hope all of you will keep him in your thoughts,” Ms. Loberg said.

To the Editor:

To our generous community, Lola’s restaurant, and our talented, entertaining auctioneer, Mr. Trip Barnes.

The 8th grade Tisbury school parents and students want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the businesses, Lola’s restaurant, and Mr. Barnes for helping to make our silent and live auction a huge success. Without your willingness to help by donating so generously, our event at Lola’s restaurant on October 3 would not have been possible.

As you know, our children will be traveling to Washington, D.C., June 2015 to see some of our country’s monuments, museums, as well as many other places rich with our country’s history.

With gratitude and appreciation, thank you again.

Janet Packer

For the parents and students of the Tisbury class of 2015

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Scalloping in the Lagoon is a popular activity.

Tisbury selectmen at their Tuesday meeting set the opening dates for the recreational and commercial scallop seasons. Recreational and family permit holders may scallop outside Lagoon Pond and Tashmoo beginning Oct. 18. Commercial fishermen must wait until Oct. 20.

Scalloping in Lagoon Pond begins Nov. 1 for recreational and family permit holders, and Nov. 3 for commercial fishermen. Lake Tashmoo will be opened to recreational and family scalloping on Nov. 29. Commercial fishermen must wait until Dec. 1.