Professor Ellen Weiss’s iconic and evocative book City in the Woods points out that in February 1879, just before our incorporation as Cottage City in 1880, there were 769 cottages and 1,058 taxable buildings. There were also two steam mills, 15 hotels, two markets, two blacksmiths, seven grocery stores and three churches. We were a town of 150 families that included 132 voters. Farm Neck, Eastville, Wesleyan Grove and of course the brand new Oak Bluffs had grown to a township that continued to amaze visitors. With “themes of astonishment,” as Weiss described, we were transported into a fairyland, a miniature city dedicated to joy, pervasive religious feeling, nature, and social density with our blatantly commercial edge. By 1907 Cottage City had become a misnomer due to the growth of the year-round population and we reverted to Oak Bluffs. Today, as I occasion a guess, Oak Bluffs has at least 4,000 homes, probably 1,500 of which are in full time use. Our population of 4,527 in the 2010 census contributed the largest share, about 25 per cent, of Island voters in the recent election. If one were to impute population growth in 10 year increments since 1880, ours has compounded by an amazing 14.6 per cent up to 2010. With 13 times more people we only have five times as many homes, no doubt due to our being the third smallest but most popular and affordable town. In the last month, and it’s truly amazing how fast pre-fab homes go up, there were three new homes built on County Road, Wing Road and the corner of Pocasset and Uncas that grew from foundation to shingled roofs in a day or two.

In order to address the other types of taxable buildings, specifically those in the B-1 and B-2 business districts, our recently energized planning board is holding a public hearing to review prospects for a “minimum property maintenance and vacant building” bylaw on Thursday Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the town hall meeting room. The planning board, tasked with this by the selectmen, has wasted no time in calling a public meeting--and it’s no secret that this was precipitated by the condition of the town’s privately owned movies theatres. Counterintuitively, the proposed bylaw means different things to different people. On one hand, town property should be well maintained, even if privately owned. On the other hand a bylaw, by definition, is a rule which can be the beauty or the beast. Bylaws affecting a Circuit avenue theatre built in 1915 that may have historic value equally affect a former African American church built in 1900 on Dukes County avenue that is in far worse condition. And the town is soon to invest in a sidewalk along Dukes County avenue, connecting our harbor with the Arts District. You may want to attend this meeting, goose or gander.

Congratulations to Zoe (Pechter) Thompson, part of that superstar cast at the Oak Bluffs Library where tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. folks are gathering for a Goodbye, Zoe baby shower as she retires to motherhood (at least for awhile). Best wishes Zoe. We know you won’t be a stranger, and you’ll be missed.

Handmade From the Heart will be hosted by Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, which is looking for artisans who will contribute articles to be sold at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House on Dec. 13th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 508-693-0189 if you’d like to contribute to this most worthy cause.

Tomorrow is the annual Trinity Holiday Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard’s Parish House. Grandma’s Attic features baked goods, knit items, jewelry and other gifts. Hot dogs, meatball subs, clam chowder, desserts and drinks will be served at the Parish House Cafe so stop by.

People and parents are amidst a fund raising drive to raise $46,000 for new playground equipment for Niantic Park. Details to come but ‘tis the season of generosity.

Inkwell guys and gals Richard Seelig, Caroline Hunter and selectperson Gail Barmakian, among others, apparently haven’t gotten the memo that summer is over evidenced by dips in the water as recently as a week ago.

The Oak House’s restoration on Seaview avenue between Pequot and Narragansett looks magnificent with the addition of blue stained shingles.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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