Ted and Jake Box plan to build scow on Boch lot in Vineyard Haven

The long vacant Boch lot is expected to become a temporary boat yard. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Some boards with an electric wire and meter attached sprouted two weeka ago at the “Boch lot,” a vacant property on the Beach Road shore, opposite the Citgo gas station and next to The Martha’s Vineyard Times office.

For those who are wondering, the arrival of the new power source is the harbinger of a scow, not spring.

Theodore “Ted” Box, a master boatbuilder and driftwood furniture artisan, recently leased the lot, where he and his son Jake plan to build a 90-foot scow, a flat-bottomed boat with sloping sides. The wooden boat will be constructed of “old growth” oak, yellow pine, and white pine.

“The last scow of note that the Vineyard would probably appreciate was Zeb Tilton’s boat, the Alice S. Wentworth,” Mr. Box said. “I got the plans for this boat from the Smithsonian.”

In addition to sailing the scow with Jake for recreation, Mr. Box said they intend use her a variety of ways, for example, as a seagoing classroom for educators and in programs for young people, such as Vineyard Voyagers, an Island nonprofit seafaring organization that is part of Sail MV.

“We think we’re going to have a lot of fun out there,” Mr. Box said.

He leased the property for six to nine months from Ernie Boch Jr., president of Boch Automotive, whose family owns the property.

Since Mr. Box expects the scow project may take a year, Mr. Boch agreed to give him an option to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis.

“Ernie Boch Jr. is very interested in the project and is very supportive,” Mr. Box said. “He loved the idea of kids being involved and was very generous in the terms of the lease.”

Mr. Box said he has applied for a temporary building permit to put a 40-foot by 72-foot wood structure on the property so he and Jake can work on the scow under cover. It will be a simple framed building with plastic on the side, which Mr. Box said he would leave open during the summer for spectators.

“From day one, this is going to be a project that will not do any harm to the Vineyard and that lovely location there at Boch Park,” Mr. Box said. “I also chose that because I wanted people to be able to come and to visit it and to get that kind of input.”

He said he insured the property, and it is in the terms of his lease that the public can visit to watch the process.

Mr. Box plans to start work on the scow as soon as he receives approval and permits from the Tisbury conservation commission and building and zoning inspector Ken Barwick.

The Boch lot has remained vacant since 1999. Mr. Boch says he has no comment at this time about future plans or use for the property, according to a message relayed to The Times this week from his office.

His father, Ernie Boch Sr., a seasonal Edgartown resident and successful New England auto dealer until his death in July 2003, bought the property in 1987 to develop as a parking lot.

The Tisbury planning board rejected Mr. Boch’s plan to build a 99-car valet parking lot there in 1994, right after the Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved it. Mr. Boch sued the town, and the case went to land court. A judge ruled in 1997 that he should reapply under the town’s old 1991 zoning bylaw, but warned it might be illegal since it had been revised in 1996. She did not make a decision as to whether the parking lot use was permitted or not.

Following entry of the judgment, Mr. Boch obtained an order of conditions from the Tisbury conservation commission and a permit to demolish several structures on the property. He began operation of the parking lot at the site on May 30, 1999.

Five days later, town building inspector Ken Barwick issued a cease and desist order, demanding that Mr. Boch close his business, because it did not comply with town zoning ordinances.