Land Bank Monies Fall Slightly as Market Slows
Julia Wells

In a clear sign of a cooling real estate market here, revenues at the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank fell in 2007 for the second straight calendar year. The total number of real estate transactions also was down last year, for the third year in a row.

The land bank collected $10.9 million in revenues in 2007, compared with $11.6 million in 2006, a drop of seven per cent.

And the land bank recorded 1,403 real estate transactions in 2007, a drop of five per cent from the previous year, when 1,474 transactions were recorded.

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State Rep. Tim Madden Joins Chorus of Critics Over Draft Oceans Plan
Julia Wells

The draft Oceans Management Plan is a rush job, based on hastily-assembled data with little or no real analysis that is simply a means to an end: the rapid development of wind power generation in waters off the coast of Massachusetts, said Cape and Islands Rep. Timothy Madden this week.

And Mr. Madden said Vineyard residents are justified in their outrage at the plan, which effectively strips the Island of regulatory control over the development of wind power plants on the ocean that is its backyard, by diluting the powers of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

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Housing Fund Cites Achievements But Shifts Rent Assistance to Towns
Julia Wells

Admitting the mistakes of the past and pledging a new future of transparency in their financial affairs, leaders of the Island Affordable Housing Fund took the floor at the Vineyard Haven library on Wednesday night and faced the public over what one member of the audience called a breach of public trust, when the fund defaulted on its payments to the county rental assistance program early this fall.

“How could you do this? There are single mothers using this rental program,” declared Penelope Dickens, a renter who also uses the program.

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Housing Fund Gifts Declined
Julia Wells

Contributions fell sharply and cash evaporated while debt soared at the Island Affordable Housing Fund between the years 2007 and 2008, audited financial statements show.

And the public was led to believe that the fund was flush with money from fund-raising, when in fact the opposite was true, said T. Ewell Hopkins, executive director of the fund, in an interview with the Gazette yesterday.

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Housing Fund Runs Into Money Trouble
Julia Wells

Revealing deep fault lines in its financial affairs, the Island Affordable Housing Fund announced abruptly this week that it can no longer pay for the county rental assistance program, pulling the rug out from under hundreds of Islanders who depend on the program for stable year-round housing.

The nonprofit fund not only has run out of money for the rental assistance program but is also in serious financial straits with its high-profile Bradley Square project in Oak Bluffs that drew Gov. Deval Patrick to the Island for a ceremonial groundbreaking in August.

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Island Affordable Housing Fund Names New Executive Director
Julia Wells

He is a family man, father of three, physically fit with a passion for cycling, and a bit of history buff. And now T. Ewell Hopkins, who has been commuting from his year-round home in Oak Bluffs to work in mainland metropolises for the past 10 years, is happy to have more time at home on the Vineyard to be near his family, read and ride his bike on weekends.

But during the workweek he is occupied with a new job and a cause: raising money and promoting development of affordable housing on the Vineyard.

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Chilmark Town Meeting Monday
Julia Wells

Money to rebuild stone walls and jump-start building design for the Middle Line housing project, shared spending on health care access and rodent control, and a $6.6 million annual town budget are the central items that will come before Chilmark voters at their annual town meeting Monday night.

The 32-article warrant reads much like a profile of Chilmark itself: spare and threaded with Yankee thrift. The annual operating budget is a slight decrease from last year, making Chilmark the only town on the Island to see its budget go down instead of up this year.

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Annual State Test Scores Label Island Schools High Performers
Julia Wells

Scores were released this week for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), the annual testing in commonwealth public schools that measures student performance in math, reading and science.

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Edgartown Allows Library Renovations
Julia Wells

Trading democratic squabbles for efficiency, Edgartown voters marched resolutely through a 52-article annual town meeting warrant in just over two hours on Tuesday night, stopping briefly along the way to debate the merits of renovations to the free public library and adding a finance director to the town employee roster.

Voters said yes to the library improvements and no to the finance director.

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Ted Kennedy Fought to Protect Island
Julia Wells

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the senior Senator from Massachusetts whose broad vowels were synonymous with Boston and whose liberal legislative record towered over all others, died late Tuesday night at his home in Hyannisport after a 14-month battle with brain cancer. He was 77 and had served in the U.S. Senate for 46 years. And he had long been a familiar presence on the Vineyard, where he is both credited for the infamy of Chappaquiddick and for the pioneering federal land trust bill that ultimately led to the creation of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

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