In financial trouble caused by a national downturn in 1881, the Oak Bluffs Land & Wharf Company was unable to sell as many plots as it needed to survive. It concocted a scheme to sell Ocean, Waban, Hartford and Pennacook parks to the town. The town’s demurral by 1885 resulted in a Boston attorney, George C. Abbott, paying $7,500 and threatening to divide the parks into home sites or, alternatively, selling them to the town for $60,000. The resultant lawsuits ended in 1891 when the court determined the parks were dedicated to the public and that there could be no other uses.

In 1984, another attorney, William J. Devine, discovered 11 parks without clear title, but selectmen were able to stand on the 1891 decision and Mr. Devine was thwarted. In 2003, the subject reappeared when Winne, Oriental and Linden parks were almost sold at public auction. According to a story in the Vineyard Gazette of June 24, 2005, the case may still be being appealed. An ensuing special town meeting went on to indicate 22 other parks on a watch list, Niantic among them. Unsure what has transpired since I’m fairly certain a glance at the Copeland design maps of the mid 1860s combined with the 1891 decision renders claims to the contrary baseless. These parks are almost genetically endeared to us in Oak Bluffs and it’s heartwarming that the Niantic Park Playground Project has raised $27,850 of the $46,000 goal as of last Monday. Please join so many others and mail tax deductible contributions to the Friends of Oak Bluffs (noting Niantic Park) at P.O. Box 1281.

My holidays were somewhat emotionally charged by the deaths of uncles Ed Brooke and Bob Coveney. There’s commentary in this week’s paper about Senator Brooke. On one of several fishing trips, Bob was kind enough to tell me my dad, an engineer, years ago had made sure Bob’s new black-owned steel company got work on all of his projects and that helped his company. I enjoyed one of Bob’s favorite expressions; when allowing me to drive his boat while searching for the “Bones” or Bonitas he knew so intimately — his directions were “come to me.” Not left or right or port or starboard; “come to me.” I never figured out which way that was, but when he didn’t curse me out I knew it was the right way. That was about half the time. Tight lines Bob and like so many, many in Oak Bluffs, I’m fortunate to have been able to spend time with him and the senator. There will be a celebration of Bob’s life tomorrow (Jan. 10) in White Plains, and a White Party here on August 8. Condolences to both families.

Neighbor Alicia Oliveira devoted her vacation from Providence College to volunteering in Nicaragua to help build a school. The word for kids like this is . . . champion.

It’s mini golf weekend at the library, tonight for adults 21 and over with food, beverage and more than $18 worth of fun from 5 to 8 p.m. playing the 18-hole indoor course. Skinny Fat’s is providing the food and Our Market the beverages. Take the family tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., all ages at no charge and hot cocoa is free.

Tomorrow Sabrina & The Grooves crank it up at the Ritz from 9:30 p.m. to closing. The new Ritz has a new, much talked about menu accompanying the entertainment. Entertainment wise, Oak Bluffs is on the cusp of an off-season renaissance with the new bowling center (The Barn) opening in early spring and Dreamland debuting a new pool hall as soon as Super Bowl Sunday.

The Federated Church reminds that free lasagna dinners are back starting Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and everyone is welcome. I’m wondering why they call it dinner at lunchtime.

Save the date, next Saturday, Jan. 17, for a family dance party from 4 to 7 p.m. at Dreamland featuring the renowned DJ Shizz; it’s a fundraiser for the Niantic Park Playground Project. The suggested donation is $5 per person or $20 for a family and there will be a cash bar/menu, raffle and kids’ games.

Thanks to those in charge of building the new fire and emergency building (and/or whoever was responsible) for removing those many, large and embarrassing JK Scanlan advertising signs. To whom was the advertising directed (except West Tisbury)? And is that black shrouded fence necessary; can’t we see the work in progress?

Keep your foot on a rock.

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