I attended the open house back in February at the hand-me-down town hall and while roaming around the sad building curiosity once again got the best of me. The town clerk’s office—gaily decorated with flowers—wasn’t one I’ve frequented too often. They save a lot of interesting town data, some a tad maudlin like deaths. It turns out that from 2009 through January 2017, 677 people from Oak Bluffs have died, about 84 per year. The fewest (66) died in 2010 and the most (98) in each of 2012 and 2016. These figures don’t account for the total number of people who died in Oak Bluffs—the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is in our town but folks who die there may be from other places. Of course, thanks to our being the home of the hospital, almost everyone not born in a taxi on Martha’s Vineyard is born in Oak Bluffs. Not all Oak Bluffs people who die necessarily die here but the town counts all residents’ deaths.

Not all Oak Bluffs people are buried here either. Some are elsewhere and some are cremated. I learned from an article in the Gazette from Nov. 16, 2015 that we charge $600 for burial lots, each holding two graves. If all of the people who died in those years bought a grave the town would have generated $203,100 – coincidentally, similar to the proposed cost of our shoring up the abandoned Island Theatre owned by the Lucky 7 Realty Trust. If the same number of folks die in the next eight years and all are buried here we will need about an acre of space for them, presuming a grave is 60 square feet. The land the Island Theatre is on, according to Town records, is about 5,760 square feet, enough for a cemetery for 60 people. Since it is a better location than Oak Grove we could probably charge more – and ironically, a cemetery would look better and be better maintained than the Island Theatre.

Next Tuesday, March 28 at 4 p.m. the building and the capital program committees will hold a public hearing about the plan for a new town hall that will be presented at town meeting. Another plan will be to use taxpayer funds to shore up Lucky 7 Realty Trust’s Island Theatre. Since their interests apparently supersede ours. Two weeks from then, on April 11, is the annual town meeting when these issues may come up for debate and discussion – and then, on April 13, people can vote for the selectmen running for office whose views coincide with yours.

I heard from Sally Dagnall (author of Circle of Faith) about the first cottage of substance in the Camp Ground from the March 3 column. Indeed, while Reverend Frederick Upham’s cottage was first built in 1856 it was but a one room shanty; the Mason-Lawton (located at the right of the Association Building) was described as “the most costly and beautiful” in 1860. It was pushed back, reversed and a larger one was attached and faced the Tabernacle. The original home—from the article on the Time Machine (vineyardgazette.com/timemachine) was lost in a fire in 1973. Thanks Mrs. Dagnall! Over time the Vineyard Gazette’s Time Machine will bring more stories and history to the device of your choice.

It’s entirely possible the future, former Island Theater will soon be one of those stories, thrust into posterity due to a lack of maintenance, neglect and regret after providing 100 years of entertainment to a used-to-be enchanted public.

By the way, the public meeting Tuesday at 4 p.m. will be in the library; you can help decide if we will have a new town hall with an acceptable conference room.

Send Edgartown news to sfinley@mvgazette.com.