25 Years Ago

From the Vineyard Gazette editions of November, 1982:

Something precious was saved in West Tisbury this week. Three hundred and eighty acres of land and uncountable millions of gallons of water were saved when a state grant for $344,000 to the town of West Tisbury came through this week. The grant, together with about $80,000 in town money, will permit West Tisbury to purchase the parcel known as the Greenlands, the last large piece of the now-bankrupt Strock property, adjacent to the state forest. It is not a particularly distinctive tract of land on the surface, covered with scrub oak and pine, but underneath, ah! there’s the rub. This tract of land sits over the Island’s principal water aquifer.

The Nathan Mayhew Seminars is expanding its campus on North William street in Vineyard Haven and will convert newly acquired property into an academic library named for Henry Beetle Hough, editor of the Vineyard Gazette for more than 60 years. Director of the seminars Thomas R. Goethals announced the purchase this week of the land and home belonging to the late Stephen Carey Luce Jr. The property is located next to the present center. “He (Mr. Hough) is clearly the elder statesman of the Island,” Mr. Goethals said. “We consider it a great honor that he would lend his name to this great home.”

Pick an answer to the following question: Breeding foxes in a residential Edgartown neighborhood can be: a) a fun hobby and profitable business, b) an annoyance to neighbors who don’t like the sounds and smells associated with this particular business, c) a matter for consideration by the town board of health, d) a zoning question to be resolved by town counsel, e) all of the above? If you picked letter “e” you either did well figuring out multiple choice tests in high school or you live in the neighborhood of Herbert Tilton’s fox farm. Mr. Tilton rents a house on Crocker Drive at Katama. In the yard is a 60-by-40 foot area enclosed by a six-foot-high cedar fence. Inside the fence are about 30 pens containing about 70 white, brown and gray foxes being bred by Mr. Tilton for fur.

The Steamship Authority is considering a proposal to buy the vessels and operations of the Hy-Line, one of two competing summer boat lines. Asked if he proposed that the authority buy his vessels, Mr. Richard Scudder, owner of the Hyannis-based Hy-Line, said: “Yes, but along with many other proposals. We’ve been talking for more than a year.” If it were to assume Hy-Line operations, the effect on the Steamship Authority would be staggering, its economics and ability to transport passengers enormously enlarged. The authority is also holding negotiations with its other competitor, the Island Queen of Falmouth. There has been controversy over the years about the role private competition boat lines play in serving the Islands and their tourists. In recent years the discussion has intensified with charges that the competition skims the cream of summer traffic while the publicly-owned Steamship Authority struggles to service the year-round Island communities.

Island businessmen only have until Jan. 17 to prepare for the new state bottle law, which so far has generated more problems and worries than actual plans. Businessmen worry about sanitation problems, higher beverage costs to the consumer, shipping empty containers off-Island, hiring more employees to handle the returnables, and finding space to store them. Retail businessmen say they are waiting to see what the distributors decide to do, and distributors are awaiting further word from state officials about implementing the new law. The state has yet to issue guidelines for the law requiring a 5 or 10-cent deposit on most soft drink and beer containers. The new bottle law presents more questions than answers, but in spite of the many concerns, one Island businessman put it: “We’re going to be ready for whatever we have to be ready for.”

Prompted by lagging mortgage applications, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) has eased its eligibility requirements for some $160 million in low-interest mortgage funds. Mortgages under the Single-Family Mortgage Purchase Program are written for a term of 30 years at a fixed interest rate of 13.7 per cent. The eligibility changes have raised the limits on a borrower’s allowable income and have increased the limits on purchase price of existing homes to the maximum levels allowable under federal law. Under new guidelines, the adjusted annual income of borrowers are $35,000 for a single-person household and $40,000 for a two-person household, with $1,500 more allowed for each dependent. Cost limits for homes under the program are $58,200 for newly-constructed single-family homes, and $48,700 for existing single-family homes.

Compiled by Eulalie Regan