Behind the Signs

In the early spring of 2014 I blogged about a new sign in the neighborhood. The sign — DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AREA • PLEASE PROTECT IT! — bugged me. It bugged me because it was completely unnecessary. Nothing was being done in the vicinity to threaten the Vineyard’s sole-source aquifer.

It bugs me less these days, one, because I’ve gotten used to it, and two, because it’s now pretty well concealed by leaves. The trees are having their way with puny human interventions. Go, trees!

Lately I’ve been noticing new signs in my neighborhood and in the areas I wander frequently and contemplating their significance. Here are a couple of them.

072016 pine hill

Pine Hill is a dirt road. On an off-islander’s map or maybe GPS it might look like a through way, but it’s not — unless you’re on foot, bike, horseback, or an all-terrain vehicle. Only two houses have motor vehicle access from Old County Road. My hunch here is that the year-round residents of #43 (with whom I have a nodding acquaintance) got tired of UPS and FedEx drivers pulling into their driveway and asking how to get to a house with a much higher number. How often can you say “You can’t get there from here” without losing your patience or your sense of humor?

Within a couple of weeks of my landing on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1985, an overnight parcel — something editorial — arrived for me. I had no fixed address at the time. Maybe two people total knew I was here at all — so I thought. Otis, the UPS driver at the time, stopped at Alley’s General Store, where the main West Tisbury post office was then located, and asked how to find me. He was directed to the house where I was staying, back in the woods off State Road, and there my package was delivered. I wasn’t officially on anyone’s radar, but they knew whom I knew and thus where I was.

Those days are long gone. I miss them.

airport sign 1

airport sign 2Every three weeks I do my laundry at the Airport Laundromat. While my clothes are washing, Trav and I stroll around the airport grounds. The sign above appeared earlier this year. My immediate reaction was “WTF?” We’re not talking about runways here. To the right you can see the sign in its natural context.

In other words: Yeah, right. Any aircraft operating in this area is going to have more trouble than a couple of trespassers. Trav and I ignored it. A couple of times we’ve run into dog walkers from Animal Health Care’s kennel. We look at the sign, then we look at each other, and we wonder what the hell those sign posters are trying to prove.

20160821 road signWithin the last couple of weeks street signs appeared on the Dr. Fisher Road, the beloved road whose ruts, moguls, and monstrous puddles I’ve documented a few times. Street signs! on the Dr. Fisher Road! Mind you, I wouldn’t love this road so much if I lived on it or had to drive on it. As it is, I just walk on it — frequently — with my dog.

Now there are street signs at either end, one on Old County Road, the other on the Old Stage Road across from the dump. Any passerby with eyes will now know where the Dr. Fisher Road is.

Everyone who’s lived on Martha’s Vineyard for 10 years or so has their idea of when exactly the island started on the long, slow (or short, fast) slide to hell. Mine is when street signs went up on either end of Lambert’s Cove Road, so newcomers didn’t have to ask anyone which was the upper end and which the lower. The signs told them. Oldtimers became superfluous. New arrivals no longer had the thrill of finally getting it straight.

The slide, slow or fast, long or short, continues. There are signs at either end of the Dr. Fisher Road.

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Candidates Forum

Vineyarders packed the Grange Hall yesterday, on a sweltering August afternoon, to hear candidates for the state senate and the state house of representatives introduce themselves at a forum organized by the League of Women Voters. Neither State Senator Dan Wolf nor State Rep Tim Madden is running for re-election, so the field is crowded: four — two Democrats and two Republicans — vying for the nod of their respective parties in the senate race, and five Democrats competing for the house nomination plus two who, running as Independents, get to bypass the September 8 primary and go straight to the November ballot.

A sampling of campaign lit for candidates at the forum

A sampling of campaign lit for candidates at the forum

The good news is that they’re a well-qualified lot. Even better, several of the candidates are young — in or not far out of their twenties — and even the youngest already have several years of solid experience behind them.

The not-so-good news is that you can only vote for one in each race, and only one will be elected.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow — Lynn Christoffers was there recording for MVTV (Martha’s Vineyard Community Television) and the whole thing should be up on their video on demand page shortly — but here’s the basic format.

The state senate candidates took the stage first. The Cape and Islands state senate district includes the Vineyard, Nantucket, and the mid and lower (outer) Cape. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t include Woods Hole and the rest of Falmouth, which are part of the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket house district. The State Senate comprises 40 seats, each representing about 169,000 people.

State senate candidates, from left: Democrats Sheila Lyons and Julian Cyr and Republicans Antony Schiavi and James Crocker.

State senate candidates, from left: Democrats Sheila Lyons and Julian Cyr (speaking) and Republicans Anthony Schiavi and James Crocker.

Each candidate got three minutes to introduce him- or herself, then moderator Deborah Medders posed three questions, which each candidate answered in turn. The questions were about (1) sustaining the shellfishery (very important here — it’s a coastal district), (2) the heroin-opioid epidemic, and (3) preparing for climate change. Each question came with enough background information to give audience members an idea of what was going on with each issue even if they weren’t following it closely. The candidates all knew the questions in advance. Then each candidate gave a one-minute wrap-up, probably 10% of which went to thanking the League of Women Voters for sponsoring the forum and the audience for turning out on a hot and humid summer afternoon.

The Grange isn’t air conditioned, by the way, but the windows were open, and by 5:30 or so the occasional cooler breeze was wafting through.

Dylan Fernandes, candidate for state rep.

Dylan Fernandes, candidate for state rep.

When the candidates for the house stepped up, the stage was considerably more crowded. Their portion of the program followed the exact same format. The state house of representatives has 160 members, each of whom represents about 40,000 constituents. The Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district comprises the Vineyard (which makes up most of Dukes County, or the County of Dukes County as it’s officially called), Nantucket, and most of Falmouth. It may contain the same number of citizens as the other districts in the commonwealth, but it has to be the hardest to get around. Dylan Fernandes has astonished several of my friends by knocking on their hard-to-find doors to introduce himself and his candidacy. (Yeah, I’m supporting this guy.🙂 )

Candidates for the house seat in the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district, from left: Democrats Michael Heylin, Ewell Hopkins, Jessica Lambert, and Timothy Soverino, and Independent Jacob Ferry. Offstage left is Democrat Dylan Fernandes; offstage right is Independent Tobias Glidden. I told you the stage was crowded, didn't I?

Candidates for the house seat in the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district, from left: Democrats Michael Heylin, Ewell Hopkins, Jessica Lambert (speaking), and Timothy Soverino, and Independent Jacob Ferry. Offstage left is Democrat Dylan Fernandes; offstage right is Independent Tobias Glidden. I told you the stage was crowded, didn’t I?

Candidates who didn’t have to run for the boat hung out afterward to answer and ask questions. Others were represented by members of their respective teams.

Against a lengthy presidential campaign that’s been playing out for months like a violent thunderstorm in the distance or right overhead, this was so refreshing. Imagine: Listening to the candidates unscripted, with no intermediaries deciding what you get to hear and how much of it! Then having the opportunity to ask your own questions, one on one. Seven of the candidates are running as Democrats, two as Republicans, and two as Independents, but party affiliation took a back seat as all of them addressed issues of pressing concern to the Cape and Islands region — issues that in most cases have affected them personally.

When many of us hear the word “government,” we think immediately of Congress and the White House, and maybe the statehouse — in Massachusetts it’s familiarly referred to as Beacon Hill, where the governor sits and the General Court (i.e., the state senate and the state house of representatives) convenes. It’s Them, it’s a monolith, it’s only interested in Us when it wants our votes.

To meet and listen to the candidates, all of whom have been doing the unheralded work of “government” on various levels, some for many years — it changes one’s perspective a bit. And the caliber of these candidates is genuine cause for rejoicing.

  *  *  *  *  *

Once upon a time, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket were each a single district, so the state house of representatives always included one member from each island. When the house was shrunk from 240 members to 160 in the mid-1970s, this came to an end. This provoked a (fairly) good-natured SECEDE NOW movement on the islands. I still have the T-shirt.

secede now 2


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Crow was hopping along the trail maybe 20 feet in front of us. It tried to lift off and couldn’t. Trav’s Flexi extends that far, but I held him back. He leaned into his harness and panted, not just from the heat. Crow had to know there was an eager dog just behind but still — hop hop, flap flap, it continued down the trail.

I let Trav’s leash out a little further. Crow veered to the right, through some not-very-tall grass into a little clearing. Hop hop, flap flap. No other crows in sight. Crow probably won’t last the day, but my dog won’t provide the coup de grâce.

Crows are so often portents, so no surprise that by the time Trav and I had crossed Old County Road onto Pine Hill, I was humming Sydney Carter’s “Crow on the Cradle,” one of the most haunting songs of all time. When I got home, I found a Jackson Browne cover of it, with David Lindley:

Lately one of the CDs in Malvina Forester’s CD changer has been Debra Cowan and John Roberts’s wonderful Ballads Long and Short. (Yes, it’s OK if you follow the link and buy it now. Just come back when you’re done.) Among the ballads on it is the traditional “Twa Corbies.” Corbies are ravens, not crows (although I just found a translation from the original Scottish that called them crows instead of ravens), but ravens and crows are both big, black, and portentous, so I was thinking of that too. “Twa Corbies” is not only haunting, it’s a little grisly if you’ve got a vivid imagination — though as traditional ballads go, it’s pretty tame.

Debra and John’s version isn’t available online, so here’s the Corries’ cover of “Twa Corbies”:

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White Tent

The white tent. The shadow you see at lower left is me standing on a picnic table.

The white tent. The shadow you see at lower left is me standing on a picnic table.

Trav and I cross the grounds or playing fields of the West Tisbury School at least once a day and often twice, so of course I noticed when the white tent appeared a few days ago. Tents are not unusual on Martha’s Vineyard. If you want a tent for a reception or wedding or outdoor event, there are at least three businesses you can call, at least in the summer. (When the northeast winds start blowing hard in the fall, the demand for tents drops PDQ.)

So was a music festival coming to the playing field behind the school? Not bloody likely. The place was too quiet. A couple of days ago, not for the first time, I found a golf ball lying on the path that runs behind the playing fields. I tossed it back onto the field. The golfer who was out there practicing his drives thanked me.

Yesterday morning Trav and I met a fellow at the edge of the school grounds, near the crosswalk on Old County Road. This was unusual. The fellow was smoking. This was even more unusual. He admired Trav, which wasn’t unusual, and I soon learned that he was from Virginia, a neighbor of his had huskies, and he’d never been to the Vineyard before. He was with NBC. The press was using the school as a staging area during President Obama’s visit.

Aha! I thought. The white tent!

Oddly enough, Trav was being reticent. Usually he’s sniffing at the hands and pockets of any stranger, looking for treats. Maybe the smell of tobacco put him off? This was probably the first smoker he’d ever met. The poor dog has lived all but eight and a half weeks of his life in West Tisbury, where no one will cop to eating anything that isn’t locally grown, certified organic, and GMO free.

Never mind smoking cigarettes.

We continued on our way. My mission was to photograph the new sign I’d noticed the afternoon before:

NB: This replaces an earlier photo of the sign before it was quite dry.


Finally the creators of the bike path planets were taking credit for their work. The paint was barely dry. I had to move a tall orange cone aside to take the picture. That vertical line down the middle looks like smeared paint.

Late this afternoon Trav and I passed close enough to the white tent that I could look inside it. No one was around. I took a picture. It doesn’t look like a rock band is going to appear at any moment, but maybe they’re planning on doing an interview?

20160809 white tent 1

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donkeyIn this contentious election season — which may or may not be more contentious than elections past, but it sure has got my attention — with recriminations, animosities, and grudges at the center of the national stage, I can’t help wondering what holds this nation together. Is it possible to speak of a “we” that doesn’t shut out a significant chunk of the country?

The US of A is so vast and diverse that my imagination fails me. So, as usual, I fall back on Martha’s Vineyard. Vast Martha’s Vineyard is not, but it’s far more diverse than people who know it only by reputation realize.

Still, a year-round population of 16,535 (according to the 2010 census) and even a summer population of 100,000+ (all of whom seem to have been on the roads yesterday) is easier to imagine than the 310 million or so souls that make up the US of A. For months we’ve been quarreling about the presidential election. We’re still at it. But I can produce unity, or at least the semblance thereof, with one word:


Most of the island population, year-round and seasonal, loathes mopeds. We loathe mopeds even in the dead of winter, when there are none of them around. At the moment the loathing is particularly acute because a week ago this past Saturday there was a horrendous accident. The moped two young women were riding veered out of control on busy Barnes Road and slammed into a dump truck. Thanks to rapid intervention by first responders and passersby, both women survived, but one lost her leg.

An online petition is now circulating, asking the state to change the motor vehicle laws so that only those who carry “licenses similar to those required of motorcycle drivers” would be allowed to rent mopeds.

moped stickerThis is by no means the first effort to curb or outright ban moped rentals. The first big one arose in 1988. Stickers spawned by that campaign are still sported by many island cars and pickups. What struck me at the time, as a fairly recent arrival on these shores, was what an utterly perfect issue it was. People who squabbled about everything else, who’d been carrying grudges against each other since third grade, united in their opposition to mopeds.

What made it so perfect?

  1. It’s all in the best interest of someone else. How could anyone oppose an effort to save people from serious injury and possible death? See also #3.
  2. Mopeds are a PITA. Who hasn’t fumed while waiting to pass a moped on State Road or one of the narrow,  winding roads that lead to Menemsha and the Gay Head Cliffs?
  3. Moped riders are easily dismissed as out of shape, stupid, and downright ugly. Listen to us describe the bleeping moped riders we got stuck behind yesterday or last year or half a dozen years ago. Big butts, beer bellies, tacky clothing, and inappropriate footwear come up a lot. Yes, there is a class element here. See also #5.
  4. The owners of the moped rental places are not especially popular. (This was obvious in 1988. It may not be as big a factor now.)
  5. People who rent mopeds don’t live here. Not only that, they’re unlikely to have friends or family here. They’re day trippers.

#5 is the clincher. It’s what makes the anti-moped crusade a perfect issue. It’s not true that everyone on Martha’s Vineyard knows everybody else, but if you’ve been here a while, and especially if you’re on Facebook, you’re probably no more than two degrees of separation from almost everybody else. This means you think twice before wearing your politics on a T-shirt or on the bumper of your car.

There is no downside to inconveniencing or pissing off people who toodle around the island on mopeds. And railing against mopeds won’t piss off the people you don’t want or can’t afford to piss off, like your friends, relatives, and co-workers.

Like I said, it’s the perfect issue.


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July License Plate Report

201607 july license map

Only two states added to the map in July — New Mexico and Minnesota — but on the whole this is not bad. July was an insanely busy month. I just discovered that I neglected to submit an invoice for a job I completed on July 11. I’m glad I realized this before I yelled at Accounts Payable for an overdue invoice. Oops.

Plenty of the missing states are doable. In August I’m going to spend more time on the road, and more time hanging out in the parking lot of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital where, it seems, every state passes through sooner or later.

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Prayer Vigil

MV NAACP prayer vigil, Inkwell beach, July 11, 2016

MV NAACP prayer vigil, Inkwell beach, July 11, 2016

Sometimes I get sucked into the not-uncommon belief that whatever unfolds on Martha’s Vineyard is not real life. I don’t lock my home either when I’m in it or when I’m out. My car keys are always in the ignition except sometimes in summer I get cautious and drop them in the door pocket so they can’t be seen from the street. When I walk in the woods at all hours, my biggest worry is whether my canine companion will pounce on a skunk and get us both sprayed.

When it comes to policing, my biggest fear is getting caught in a speed trap. I’m not a frequent speeder but I have occasionally caught the speedometer rising toward 60 on Barnes Road, speed limit 45.

No, correct that: My biggest fear is getting caught in a speed trap by an officer I recognize and who recognizes me.

The current president of the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP is not only a white guy, he’s the chief of police in Oak Bluffs. If you want convincing that Martha’s Vineyard is not real life, that’s probably all I have to say. But since I’ve lived here a while, I know it’s more complicated than that.

So I grew up in a lily-white smallish town west of Boston that was well on its way to becoming a suburb. Police officers were quite literally our friends. I went to school with their kids. I didn’t for a moment connect them with the police officers I saw on TV, the ones who were enforcing the law of segregation, standing by while white people beat up black people and sometimes doing the beating themselves.

Then I moved to Washington, D.C. Not only did I move to Washington, D.C., which was about 80 percent black at the time, I moved to Washington, D.C., in the heyday of the antiwar movement, which I promptly got involved in. As a marshal (as peacekeepers were called in those days) at antiwar demos, I often found myself standing within a few feet of police officers. Some were stern, others friendly. At some demos, the big challenge was keeping the right-on revolutionary hotheads at a distance. These (almost invariably white) guys wanted to provoke the cops into beating up the marshals, on the theory that this would radicalize us by showing us the power of the state. Yeah, right.

Once I was up close and personal with a line of CDU (Civil Disturbance Unit) officers. Tear gas was in the air. They were in full riot gear: masked, each indistinguishable from the next. They looked like the pigs they were sometimes accused of being.

Along with about 1,200 other people, I got busted on the Capitol steps during the Mayday demonstrations in 1971. Four members of Congress — Ron Dellums, Bella Abzug, Parren Mitchell, and Charles Rangel — had invited us up to the steps to hear them speak. The police cordoned off the steps and announced that anyone who remained on that side of the barrier was going to get arrested. They were very orderly, polite even. The young guy who arrested me asked if my parents knew I was going to be spending the night in jail.

Trouble was, sitting on the Capitol steps wasn’t illegal. After a 10-year legal battle led by the four representatives and the ACLU, the courts agreed.

Meanwhile, and in the many years since, I came to know and swap stories with more and more people who hadn’t grown up in the lily-white suburbs. People who as kids had been evicted from their homes by armed police officers and sheriff’s deputies. Gay men and lesbians who’d been busted by the vice squad. People who’d been beaten up, busted, and/or had their homes broken into because they were mistaken for someone else. (Oddly enough, this mistaken-identity thing rarely seemed to happen to white people.)

And so on and on and on.

So now I live on this island that in some ways looks like the town I grew up in. I notice when someone’s wearing a blue uniform, but my heart doesn’t start pounding. But in other ways it’s very different. I know and am in frequent touch with people all over the country, all over the world even. And on Martha’s Vineyard, unlike the town I grew up in, many families are multiracial. Those protected (somewhat) by white-skin privilege are the parents, siblings, children, and cousins of those who aren’t.

A few days ago a young woman of color posted her story to the Islanders Talk group on Facebook. Having grown up on the Vineyard, being treated as an individual, she was shocked at first when she went off-island and her color was the first and often the only thing people saw. She saw it happening to her friends, over and over. She heard stories.

It’s hard for many white people to grasp this. White is the default setting, the thing we don’t have to register about ourselves or the (white) people we meet. When someone does call attention to our whiteness, some of us get indignant: White is only a small part of what I am. All white people aren’t the same.

Well, yeah. Hold that thought.

So when word went round that the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP was calling a prayer vigil for Monday morning, July 11, I knew I had to be there. To witness, and to be in the physical presence of others who want to be part of the solution. Thanks to the ever present sound of the sea and the number of people there — despite the short notice there must have been about 250 — it was hard to hear most of what the speakers said, but when we sang “Balm in Gilead” it was impossible not to hear, and to feel part of a long line of people who’ve lived with unimaginable adversity and managed to keep hope alive.

This Saturday, July 16, there’s going to be a march in support of BlackLivesMatter. We’ll gather at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven at 10 a.m., walk to Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs (about three miles), form a circle around the park’s perimeter, and remain until everyone has arrived. The #13 VTA bus runs between VH and OB so you can get back to wherever you left your car.

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Pacing Between Planets

Trav and I continue to stroll between the planets. Our most frequent route takes us from Neptune to Uranus and within hailing distance of Saturn before we make a left onto the path that leads toward home.

The sun

The sun

Other days we start with the sun and pass over the inner planets, boom boom boom. That end of the solar system is more densely populated.

On the last day of school we encountered the art teacher stencilling distances from the sun for the three planets closest to it. Mercury is 29 million miles from the sun, Venus 66 million, and Earth 91 million.

Too bad the sun couldn’t have taken up the whole parking area, I said. Then it would have been closer to scale. They’d thought of that, said the teacher, but it would have meant making the parking area off limits for a couple of days while the paint dried. Cyclists, runners, joggers, and walkers park there to access the bike path. Teachers and staff from the school across the street use it too. Besides, it would have taken a whole lot of red and yellow paint to turn the parking lot into a sun.

Once all the distances were in place, I started counting paces between planets. The outer planets took a while because I’d lose my place when I greeted someone passing in the opposite direction, or when Trav had to sniff at the bushes or snatch a tennis ball that some other dog had abandoned. When I counted 285 and 288 paces on two successive trips between Uranus and Neptune, I figured I had to be in the ball park.

A big surprise was that it was 272 paces from Saturn to Uranus — almost as far as from Uranus to Neptune. I could have figured this out from doing the math, but walking made it easier to grasp. Saturn, I realized, is roughly as far from the sun as it is from its neighbor Uranus.

Between the innermost planets it seemed my stride was longer: each one covered about 4 million miles. Once I got down to serious walking it averaged a little under 3.5 million. Yes, I know that if I were outbound from the sun the planets wouldn’t line up as neatly as they do on the bike path. Some of them would be way off in the woods somewhere. They don’t move in neat concentric circles either.

Still, the distances are impressive. And Earth doesn’t seem like the center of the universe either.

Trav checks out Mercury.

Trav checks out Mercury.

venus miles

earth miles

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June License Plate Report

201606 june license map

Not quite as good as the previous June, when I added five states to the map, or the June before that, when I added six, but four new states ain’t bad, and they’re all good ones: Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and Alabama (which got in just under the wire, on the 30th). Oklahoma was a rental truck unloading in Edgartown the day the Spirituals Choir sang at The Anchors, the Edgartown senior center.

The year-to-date total stands at 34, a bit behind schedule. The nation’s midsection looks rather empty, notably that stack with Louisiana on the southern end and Minnesota on the north. It’s time to start hanging out in the hospital parking lot. All sorts of good plates show up there in the summer, including last year (I’m told by a very reliable source) North Dakota.

June was a long, full, and intense month. June 8 was my 65th birthday, so I became a card-carrying Medicare recipient on June 1. By the end of the month I’d sorted it all out — with help from several friends and, especially, from the county’s health care access office — and was also enrolled in a prescription plan and a supplemental (“Medigap”) plan. I’ll be paying roughly three times more for coverage than I was under the Affordable Care Act. That’s a bit of a shock.

Also a bit of a shock was my June 9 dental appointment to have two adjacent teeth filled: turned out I needed a root canal as well. Finished that yesterday. It took three appointments, so I’m really glad I didn’t have to go off-island. (The island’s gentrification carries some benefits for the non-gentry.) It was relatively painless, but I’m bracing for the credit card bill.

Fortunately, June was a very, very busy month workwise. I was so overbooked that I wondered how I’d get through it, but I’ve pretty much managed. July looks busy too — last summer I was scrounging for work, so this is a relief — as were April and May. So I may get those dental bills paid off sooner rather than later.


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MVFF Deal Closes, More Dealing Ensues

As June 22 approached, the date set for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) to close on the Walsh property off Old County Road, the rumors flew. Opposition to MVFF’s plan to build a “campus” or “home” on the 12.5-acre tract had started strong and gotten stronger. On June 8, encouraged by neighbors, town residents, and others, West Tisbury’s board of selectmen voted to send MVFF a letter urging them to reconsider their plans.

The Walsh house is only visible from the road if you're considerably under the neighborhood's 25 mph speed limit.

The Walsh house is only visible from the road if you’re considerably under the neighborhood’s 25 mph speed limit.

If MVFF decided to proceed regardless, whatever formal plans it came up with would be subject to strenuous review by town boards and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC). Some people were muttering about litigation. Even in a best-case scenario, this promised to eat up plenty of time, money, and energy that could be better invested in other things, like showing films.

I was about 99% sure that the projected 6,000-square-foot barn was never going to be built at that location, but a purchase-and-sale agreement had been signed, the closing date was set — how was MVFF going to get out of it?

Hence my interest in the rumors that came my way. (I’m on the periphery of the grapevine at the best of times, and I’ve had a very busy spring. It’s hard to keep your ear to the ground when your eyes are on the laptop screen and your fingers constantly on the keyboard.) The common gist of the rumors was that someone or someones had made a better offer for the property and the sale to MVFF wasn’t going through.

On the appointed day, June 22, the actual outcome was summarized in the Vineyard Gazette‘s headline: “Film Festival Buys West Tisbury Property, But Will Resell.” The story suggests a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity that clearly gave rise to the rumors: It reported that “a neighborhood group had formed an LLC and made a full-price offer to MVFF to take over the sale contract.” Negotiations foundered when “a trustee for the Walsh family declined to agree to [the switch], acting on advice of counsel.” So the sale did go through, but MVFF no longer plans to build there.

According to the Martha’s Vineyard Times story: “The LLC plan was then to sell off the front five-acre parcel to a waiting Island family, who asked not to be identified, and work on a separate deal, possibly with conservation groups or another Island family, on the back 7.5-acre lot, which includes farmland. MVFF plans to continue to work with the neighbors and try to enact that plan.”

So that’s where things stand at the moment.


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