It should be no surprise to any regular readers of the column that the Gazette Chronicle, compiled each week by our librarian Hilary Wall, is a favorite of mine. Last Friday featured portions of Louise Aldrich Bugbee’s March 8, 1974 On Circuit Avenue, And All About Town column about her first town meeting. Her recall of the few people in attendance voting on substantial amounts of money to be spent is simply hilarious, especially if you’ve ever been to an Oak Bluffs town meeting where we have a simple and pure form of democracy where issues aren’t couched in black or white, red or blue, Democrat or Republican, but just local, grass roots issues. It doesn’t matter how many have worked for how long to present these issues to you fairly, at the end of the voting, majority rules.
Sometimes though, a two-thirds vote is required. This year article 15 needs a two-thirds vote. This article is a request to build a new town hall for $6.8 million and where the finance and advisory board voted five in favor and four against. The published warrant doesn’t say whether a two-thirds vote is required for article 16, the proposed new $8.2 million fire station, but I bet it is — the financial advisory board voted six in favor and three against this one. Article 27 requires a two-thirds vote too – this one proposes that the private East Chop Association will give Oak Bluffs taxpayers a deed to the failing land along East Chop Drive — so the town can get FEMA funds to fix it when the next violent hurricane does more damage. The now private East Chop Beach Club was the public Highland Beach. Is the East Chop Association going to return the beach to town taxpayers so we can all use it — or is this offer just a gift horse? If that’s not a part of article 27, I’d vote no. I’d rather the FEMA fund requests be reserved to protect our public beaches.
The indefatigable editor and publisher of the Cottage City Star, Howes Norris—with the glow of the secession behind him in an early 1880 editorial waxed eloquently; “We don’t think the voters are quite willing to sufficiently recognize the wants and needs of the summer residents . . . Non-residents pay our taxes. They don’t grumble at supporting our schools and other expenditures, from which they receive no benefit. Let us in turn do the little in our power this year to show them we mean to look after their comfort and pleasure by doing a few little necessary things for their gratification.” It seems the board of selectmen, after reflection and discussion with related town boards and committee, should make a public announcement as to the efficacy of the beach restoration at the Inkwell and Pay Beach. I’m fatigued to still be hearing the alarm the new sand has caused.
The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is looking for photographs from the 1960s and tomorrow. If you have pictures to share, curators will scan them to add to the museum’s collection for an upcoming exhibit, Sea Change: Martha’s Vineyard in the 1960s. For information, contact Anna Carringer at 508-627-4441, extension 114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben DeForest’s Red Cat Kitchen at Ken ‘N’ Beck opens for the season Tuesday, April 15, to our delight and the jealousy of everyone over in America who has to wait for summer vacation. Ben has been able to spend part of the off-season traveling as a private chef and is moments away from having his third child. This season along with the menu fans can count on, there will be tasty new adventures for the palate as his specials evolve.
Congratulations to Oak Bluffs official new fire chief, the hard-working John Rose, and to Peter Martell who received a citation from the town and selectmen for his 38 years of emergency management. Congratulations to us all (and thank you to Sam Dunn and crew) for the selectmen’s sanction of Oak Bluffs soon-to-be new bowling alley.
Social media suggests controversy at Goodale’s, the Island’s sole quarry. Are there sticks being thrown to cause us to pay for stone to be shipped on the ferry? Tsk-tsk.
I learned something from Louise Aldrich Bugbee last week: Town meeting is what the phrase stand up and be counted really means. Tuesday, April 8, is the Oak Bluffs town meeting; you might miss NCIS but you can see it again on cable. Bring popcorn, stand up — be counted.
Keep your foot on a rock.