The grand reunion


Martha’s Vineyard prides itself on its traditions, culture, sense of community, and respect for the environment. The 71st Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, which began on Sunday and continues for the next five weeks, embodies all those qualities and more.

One does not have to go fishing to appreciate the Derby. That is evident most weekend evenings on Edgartown Harbor, when Islanders, and visitors new to the Island attracted by the activity, wander over to the weigh station to share in the enthusiasm, banter, and spectacle of the fish being brought to the scale.

The fact that this contest has continued for more than seven decades exemplifies what Islanders already know — the Derby, once described as “fishing’s grand reunion,” is about much more than catching fish. It is time spent on the beach or ocean with family members and friends; it is the thrill of watching a young fisherman walk into the weigh station for the first time, emulating his or her parent; and it is the infectious spirit of camaraderie evident when even a nonfisherman inquires: How’s the fishing?

This success is also a testament to the many members of the Derby committee, a dedicated group of volunteers drawn from all walks of life, who have navigated sometimes rough seas and helped the fishing tournament to become one of the Island’s most respected institutions.

Ed Jerome, longtime Derby president, was for years the principal of the Edgartown School. John Custer, principal of the Tisbury School, is committee chairman, a post he has ably filled for many years. It is no coincidence that these two widely respected and capable Island leaders, both avid fishermen, are at the helm. The Island has benefited from their steady guidance.

It is important to note that the Derby annually awards four scholarships to Martha’s Vineyard high school students. In 2016, it funded two $10,000 scholarships and two $5,000 scholarships. Since the start of the scholarship program and the acquisition of nonprofit status, the Derby has contributed more than $500,000.

By the time the Derby concludes on Oct. 15, more than 3,000 fishermen of all ages are expected to have entered the contest. Some will be new to the tournament. For many others, it is an annual event — a pilgrimage to a state of mind where time is measured by tides and eternal hope is described as one more cast. Welcome back.

A housing plan

In an OpEd that appears this week, “Planning for an Island Marshall Plan,”
Aquinnah planning board member Peter Temple describes the overall importance of the upcoming series of meetings in the six Island towns that, with the assistance of professional consultants, starts the process of developing a housing production plan (HPP).
“For the process to succeed, the public and town leadership need to be actively involved throughout, and reach consensus,” Mr. Temple says.

Too often, Islanders become engaged only after the fact, once the blueprints are on the table. Here is an opportunity to help draw up the plans.

The members of the All-Island Planning Board Housing Work Group who are working so hard to address this problem have assembled some sobering data. Those numbers are presented in a flyer that is an insert in this week’s issue of The Times.

We urge everyone to review this data and become part of the process. A schedule of the meetings in each town is listed.

One important note: The venue for the meeting in Oak Bluffs has been changed from the Loft to the Oak Bluffs School cafeteria.