Shabby shack appears on Gay Head Cliffs

Some town residents are not happy about a shabby shed that recently appeared on the Gay Head Cliffs. — Rich Saltzberg

A shopworn shed recently appeared among the shops on the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah. The building, which on Tuesday morning looked like a scene from “The Wizard of Oz” with witch legs protruding from underneath it, has rattled some in the community.

Buddy Vanderhoop, an elder of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), expressed disgust on Facebook.

“I guess this is what the tribe is all about these days, bringing [an] unfinished piece of [expletive] that looks like it was pulled out of the dump and putting it up at the cliffs in the middle of July at the height of tourist season!!!,” he posted. “When they could have finished the building and then dropped it off, but that makes too much sense!! Everyone is appalled that the tribe and the town has sanctioned this atrocity!!! And construction at the height of the season at a national landmark is beyond belief!!!”

Town administrator Jeffrey Madison said the placement of the shed wasn’t something town government was involved in. Madison said the town leases the area to the tribe, and suggested contacting tribal officials for more information.

Acting Wampanoag tribal administrator Marka Chandler declined to comment on the shed.

Aquinnah selectman Juli Vanderhoop said the shed will be rented to tribal councilwoman Kristina Hook. Hook could not be immediately reached for comment.

Vanderhoop said she was disappointed with the installation of a building in such rough condition, especially because the action does not seem to take into consideration the effect on adjacent businesses. At the same time, she said she understood the difficulty merchants face getting storefronts ready. Vanderhoop, who owns Orange Peel bakery, also rents an eatery venue on the Cliffs, but due to winter damage and protracted remodeling work, she said, she won’t be able to open until August. She said the selectmen will likely suggest the tribe remove the shed until it can be refurbished. The ultimate arbiter of the shed will be the planning board, she noted. She said she has faith that board will make a sound decision.

Selectman and planning board member Jim Newman declined to render an opinion on the shed as he has not yet been up to see it. However, he agrees the planning board will likely decide the fate of the building.