President Obama and his family will return to the Vineyard for a vacation this summer, marking the fourth Summer White House trip to the Island during his presidency.
The White House confirmed last week that the Obamas will travel to the Vineyard on August 10 and remain on Island until August 18. As in the past, no public events are scheduled during their stay.
The Obamas will rent a different house this year, since Blue Heron Farm, their previous summer vacation home, was sold to new owners in 2011.
Tom Wallace, the owner of Wallace and Co. Sotheby’s International in Edgartown who has handled summer rentals for the White House in the past, had no comment on where the president and First Family will stay.
But sources told the Gazette that after a detailed exploration of several properties along the south shore from Edgartown to Chilmark, the likely location is a private home off South Road in Chilmark.
The home is owned by David Schulte, a summer resident. Built in 1961 and renovated about 10 years ago, the 5,000-square-foot contemporary-style home sits on a ridge overlooking Chilmark Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. The nine and a half acre property has access to Chilmark Pond.
The house has a private master suite with its own den, porch, outdoor shower, access to a gymnasium and his and her bathrooms. An open floor plan includes pond and ocean views from the living room, dining room and kitchen. An outside patio and screened dining room overlook an infinity pool. There are three guest bedrooms with baths. Additional amenities include a small basketball court and guest house.
The renovations to the home were designed by Rick Sundberg/Olson Kundig Architects.
The Obamas previously vacationed on the Island in August 2009, 2010 and 2011. They did not come last year, with Mr. Obama locked in a tight and heated race for reelection.
The south shore has long been a preferred location for presidential retreats for security reasons. President Clinton and his family stayed at a private compound on the south shore in Edgartown.
Preparations are underway across the Island to ready electrical and communication systems for the president’s arrival. Additional cell phone towers have been installed around the Chilmark property where the family will stay. Chilmark executive secretary Tim Carroll said two Verizon cell on wheels mobile sites, or “cows,” are expected to arrive in Chilmark during the president’s stay.
Secret Service members are also involved in advance preparations at the Snail Road property and nearby locations.
Peter Martell, owner of the Wesley Hotel in Oak Bluffs, said he has 70 rooms booked for Secret Service members and five reserved for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).
“We’ve never had a problem with these guys, they’re really good,” Mr. Martell said. “They’re respectful.”
Martha’s Vineyard Airport manager Sean Flynn said he has not received confirmation from the White House about the president’s trip. But based on the family’s last visit, a 30-mile flight restriction will be put in place, Mr. Flynn said. In the past he has worked with the necessary agencies to coordinate a plan that allows planes to continue to fly in and out of the airport with few interruptions.
“We try to improve on it every time,” Mr. Flynn said.
Mr. and Mrs. Obama’s visit is scheduled for one of the busiest weeks of the year on the Island. The 152nd Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair begins August 15 and runs though August 18. Grand Illumination Night at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association will take place on August 14 and the Oak Bluffs fireworks show is scheduled for August 16.
During past visits Islanders havewelcomed the Obamas by lining the airport road for their arrival and departure, holding signs and waving flags.
The Obamas typically spend their vacation time quietly, with the president playing golf, sometimes more than once a day, and by going on family outings alone and with friends.
Their close friends include senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and Prof. Charles Ogletree, Mr. Obama’s former mentor at Harvard law school and a regular golfing partner. Both Mr. Ogletree and Ms. Jarrett are longtime summer residents of Oak Bluffs.
Mr. Obama’s visits to the Vineyard date to a time before he became the first African American president of the U.S.
In 2004 he spoke as a fresh, young voice of the Democratic party and a senatorial candidate from Illinois at a forum on race relations at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. The annual W.E.B. DuBois Institute forum marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education.
“Where do we go from here,” he asked. “If we deal with race in isolation, to the exclusion of jobs or the health crisis, we’ll lose. We need to break out of the either/or mentality.”
Mr. Obama returned to the Island in 2007 as a Democratic presidential candidate, along with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At a fundraising event that summer, Mr. Obama spoke about why he liked the Vineyard.
“I can wander around in shorts and not shave in the morning and no one talks about it,” he said.