Bringing a historical perspective


To the Editor:

Hello, Vineyard voters, my interest is in a better Martha’s Vineyard Commission. I have been in business for 60 years on the Vineyard, and I feel I can help with my knowledge of the growth of the Island as we move into an all-year-round community. What we need and how we can get it without destroying the Island is a difficult endeavor. We learn from our history, and I bring a lot of that with me. I am guilty of giving native Islanders an open mind and an edge. 

When the MVC began, Vineyard towns did not have zoning boards, planning boards, etc. Today a building inspector refers a project to the MVC, and after many weeks the project then goes back to its town to start the process all over again. Something is wrong with that picture. 

Affordable housing isn’t working. $4.5 million-plus for 40 beds is not helping the situation; it doesn’t make sense. We have to do something, but that is not it. Many people know I built three apartments in my backyard, listed then with affordable housing. Happy to say the affordable apartments took no outside funds. Steve Ratner’s old house joined Henry Hough’s house — recycling at its best. 

I have a limited formal education, most of which came in the 1950s from working on Pinney’s Farm and the Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative Dairy, delivering milk. In the 1960s, I tore down and moved many buildings, including the Crowell Coal Co. and the Tilton Lumber Co., to make the Steamship Authority parking lot. Bought a 1948 Ford 24-foot truck and started Barnes Trucking, that today counts 50 pieces of rolling stock operating coast to coast. In the 1970s I started the first charity auctions with Tim Chilton for the Boys Club, featuring tennis with Mike Wallace, sailing with Walter Cronkite, and free round-trips in a semi to New York City for two people … truly unbuyable opportunities. I have done many, many auctions and charitable work for many charities that have literally raised millions over the years. In the 1980s I talked Grossman’s Lumber into giving us the Walpole Ice Arena; Tucker Wilson, Bob Bailey, Jimmy Gibson and my gang went to Walpole and dismantled and loaded the rink on my trucks. I have been a trustee of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society for 40 years, and was active in the design and building of the Ag Hall. I brought in the skateboard park. 

We do not have enough people applying to build effective enthusiasm for the MVC. There should be term limits on its members. The government appointees never show up, and too few commissioners seem to govern the board. There is a fine line between attention to detail and BS that seems to sneak in. If I’m re-elected, I’ll continue to try my best to separate the two. I would like to get a better job of filming the meetings, with more visual on the board members and audience reactions. This could attract more qualified applications.

Whatever it takes. I rarely miss a meeting. I work for you. Call me at home, 508-400-6171. Please give me your vote. 


Clarence (“Trip”) Barnes