Vineyard Trust president and CEO Funi Burdick resigned just days after The Times wrote about issues with altered grant applications for community preservation committee funding for the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown and Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs.
Last week at an Edgartown CPC meeting, town administrator James Hagerty confirmed a construction quote for work to be done on the Whaling Church had been altered before being submitted as an article on the town meeting warrant requesting $175,751 in CPC funding. The documents can be found here.
The Times submitted public records requests for documents relating to Flying Horses on Friday, but has not received them.
Trust chairman Patrick Ahearn had a statement emailed to The Times Wednesday detailing Burdick’s resignation. Former trust chair Sally Rorer will fill the president and CEO role in the interim.
“After it was brought to my attention there may have been irregularities with Vineyard Trust’s submissions to the towns of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs for CPC funding to restore the Old Whaling Church and Flying Horses [carousel], respectively, as board chairman I immediately launched a thorough review and analysis of these submissions,” Ahearn’s statement reads. “The Vineyard Trust Executive Committee and I, along with three of our past board chairs, have regrettably concluded errors were made in the grant applications prepared by staff and submitted to each town, and there simply is no excuse for that.
“The restoration of historic nationally registered structures must comply with the U.S. Department of Interior guidelines, as well as those of each town when applying for funding for restoration. While mistakes were made by the Vineyard Trust’s staff, we believe they were honest mistakes made without malice or fraudulent intent. Nonetheless, these errors are totally unacceptable, and we apologize for them. Based on the conclusion of our review, I have accepted the resignation of Vineyard Trust’s President, Funi Burdick, effective today. She has accepted full responsibility and accountability for these regrettable mistakes. Funi has done many positive things for the Vineyard Trust since joining us four years ago. She has been a good steward of our properties and has strengthened our organization in many ways, and we thank her for her service.”
Vineyard Trust is a nonprofit responsible for historic properties across the Island including the Whaling Church, Flying Horses, and Alley’s General Store. The board will launch a search for Burdick’s replacement with Rorer taking over while that occurs.
“I thank Sally for her leadership during this time until we find Funi’s replacement,” Ahearn said in the statement. “Importantly, I have asked our governance committee, chaired by Robin Graham, to establish a strict protocol to ensure errors of this nature are not repeated. We take very seriously our stewardship of the 20 historic properties under our care and ownership, and we want to maintain transparency in all that we do. We pledge to ensure the resources entrusted to us by the towns and our donors are handled professionally and diligently as we preserve much of the Island’s heritage through these 20 properties.
“We sincerely apologize to the communities of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs for these submission errors and we will make every effort to ensure they are not repeated in the future. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.”