Editorial: Mr. Vail, Mr. Santoro, and fertilizer rules


Understandably, Oak Bluffs voters have been wrong-footed by the turmoil surrounding the Quilt Fund, the Council on Aging, and its director, former selectman Roger Wey. What to make of all this as they enter the voting booths to re-elect Walter Vail and Mike Santoro, or turn one of the two out of office, in favor of a newcomer? (Two seats on the five-member board of selectmen must be filled from among the three contestants.)

It may be fair to regard this contest as unfortunate, in that it occurs at a moment in town history that is turbulent and confusing, as so many others have been. But the questions that have emerged surrounding the financial management of the Council on Aging and the investigation underway now to answer those questions ought to be regarded by voters as assurance that town management, which has in the past and under the oversight of past selectmen been often calamitous, is now taken seriously.

Better to understand the ways in which the town and the current selectmen have turned a troubling situation into a promising one. This effort to manage town spending and financial record keeping more properly and more carefully is a good thing. It’s already turned cash shortfalls into balanced budgets. With the town on a better fiscal footing, the selectmen, helped to a remarkable degree by competent town administrator, have taken on new projects that look forward to an improved economic future for Oak Bluffs. Mr. Vail and Mr. Santoro have contributed to the decision making that has brought the town from potential disaster to great potential.

Each deserves re-election.

The MVC, doing its job

Voters in all six Island towns will be asked this spring to adopt and implement rules, promulgated by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission under its district of critical planning concern function, that will regulate the use of fertilizers, in both agricultural and residential settings. This page urges voters in all towns to adopt these proposed rules. The result of the MVC’s carefully developed fertilizer protocols will be healthier surface water, including inland and coastal ponds, many of which are plagued by excessive nitrogen intrusion that is the result of runoff from farms, lawns, and gardens. These careful rules will not, by themselves, correct the nitrogen overload that surface waters suffer, but they will ease the nitrogen burden and in the future the economic burden taxpayers will face as they pony up the funds to clean up the ponds.

As compared with the MVC’s plaguey, illogical, and intrusive development of regional impact jumble, here is an effort by the regional planning and regulatory body that emphasizes — even in its statutory language — what the MVC is best at. Here is an effort, hallmarked with clarity and region/town cooperative effort — that will make an important, improving Island-wide difference.