GOODBYE TO FRIENDS

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter went out to friends and customers of Bramhall & Dunn this week.

It is with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and gratitude that I am writing to inform you of the conclusion of Bramhall & Dunn at the end of 2011. I have been happily leading this enterprise for the past 28 years, since 1983 when I was 25 years old. I am now eagerly looking forward to the next phases and adventures in my life, whatever they may be.

I have had a great time with Bramhall & Dunn over the years. What started with a focus on all manner of textiles grew to include whatever caught my fancy that reflected my idea of a lifestyle suited to Island living. I feel very proud of the beautiful collection of quality merchandise that we assembled and presented in a homelike environment, graced by Wendy Whipple’s displays, the most beautiful anywhere, on Island or off. I’ve worked with the most steadfast, loyal and delightful colleagues, some for many years, including Wendy for 23! I have met many wonderful, imaginative artists and designers from whom I’ve purchased creative work. I am especially proud of what I hope you will agree was a warm and welcoming presence on Main Street. More than anything, it’s been the personal relationships that we all have shared with all of you that has been so rewarding. We all are honored to have been a part of people’s lives for many generations.

None of this would have been possible without you, my incredibly supportive and loyal customers. You have made it fun, rewarding, gratifying. You have become my friends, the store’s raison d’etre. Your support has meant so much to me. Those of you who make B& D your first stop when you get off the ferry and the last before you board, can’t imagine how gratifying that feels. We had customers last weekend, who after driving up from Brooklyn, came to the Vineyard Haven store off the boat, then on to the Edgartown store before heading home to Aquinnah — and all before their poor dog had been let out for a walk!

Some may ask if the difficult economy factored into my decision and I can honestly say that it did not. In fact, when times started getting tough in 2008, I saw it as a challenge and we successfully adapted to meet it. Others may wonder if the huge growth in Internet shopping was a factor. Again, it was not. We are proud of the personal attention and lovely environment that we provide our customers and know that they appreciated it as well. This kind of service cannot be duplicated on the Internet. I will make a plea, however, to all those who value the experience of shopping in a physical store and value vibrant towns to make every effort to support their local merchants. They cannot exist without your business. In my case, I am just ready to move on and pursue the many, many other options and adventures yet to be discovered.

We are having a celebration party and sale starting on 11/11/11 and I hope to see you. I thank you. It’s been a great time.

All the best to you. With gratitude.

Emily Bramhall

Chilmark

ONE WAY, WRONG WAY

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Changing Dukes County avenue to one-way traffic is the result of when town boards selectively ignore zoning regulations and the residents of the neighborhoods suffer the consequences.

What follows is the history of how this problem was created (all public record information).

Dave Richardson bought the lot where Smoke ’n Bones is today on Dec. 3, 1991, for $89,700.

Dave Richardson bought Tony’s Market at 119 Dukes county avenue on March 12, 1992 for $165,000.

Dave bought 122 Dukes County avenue (the white house on the corner of Dukes County and Oakland avenues across the street from Smoke ’n Bones on Dec. 31, 1993 for $80,000.

The restaurant that is now Smoke ’n Bones was built around 1994-1995.

The permit to build a 64-seat restaurant on a 40 x 80-foot lot was contingent upon the applicant providing the required on-site parking for the restaurant on the property across the street at 122 Dukes County avenue.

The restaurant was sold on June 4, 1997 for $380,000, without the property at 122 Dukes County avenue that was its parking.

The house was rented for awhile and then sold on Sept. 13, 2000 for $229,000.

At some point in this process the restaurant property, Smoke ’n Bones, secured a 99-year lease for eight parking spaces of the claimed 13 spaces in the Tony’s Market parking lot. I say claimed because the parking lot is technically too narrow for two rows of perpendicular parking, so apparently there was no drawn and dimensioned parking lot plan required when the town planning board granted this permission.

The current zoning regulations requiring adequate on-site parking have been in effect since 1988 and passed town meeting with 106-1. One has to wonder why Tony’s Market has been exempt from zoning regulations that everyone else must follow.

Why should all the residents of the neighborhoods in a one-mile circle around Tony’s Market suffer radically-increased vehicle and truck traffic, decreased safety for their children, reduced property values and diminished emergency response time for the benefit of one business when the problem was created by the failure of the town planning board and building inspector to enforce zoning regulations that were properly voted for by the townspeople and approved by the state attorney general in 1988?

Based on the zoning regulations voted for in 1988 and in effect today, Tony’s Market should have been required to have a minimum of 26 parking spaces when the initial major expansion took place, with more parking required before the business was expanded further with the addition of the takeout restaurant.

The zoning violations and questions that need to be answered include:

Why was Tony’s allowed to expand to a 4,664-square-foot store with only seven parking spaces?

When did the town give Tony’s permission to add the deli to his store?

Did the town give Tony’s permission for a takeout restaurant, or was Tony’s allowed to develop a takeout restaurant under the guise of being a deli in a store?

Why was Tony’s allowed to sell their parking around the white house at 122 Dukes County avenue?

What will happen if in the future, Smoke ’n Bones becomes a year-round three-meal-a-day restaurant like Linda Jean’s and needs their parking in Tony’s parking lot all day and year-round?

What will happen when the other commercial properties around Tony’s are developed and they also use street parking?

Answer: The traffic chaos caused by Tony’s resumes.

Dukes County avenue is only six tenths of a mile long and is the only direct route connecting the town center to Wing Road, its emergency facility and all points beyond.

Why should the entire town suffer the diminished emergency response time that will result from changing Dukes County avenue, and possibly many other streets to one way?

The folks at Tony’s and some people in the Arts District seem to think that parking regulations, the ones they have been quite successfully attempting to bypass for years, are some extraneous abstract concept. Parking regulations are the single most important zoning regulation for limiting the type and density of commercial development. The voters decided they did not want another Circuit avenue on Dukes County avenue back in 1988 when they voted for these zoning regulations. The parking regulations are reasonable and conservative and if they had been followed we would not have this threat to the surrounding neighborhoods. The people voted for these zoning regulations specifically so the neighbors and neighborhoods around this commercial area would not be overrun by any single business or group of businesses. Avoiding the abuse of these neighborhoods was the point of the 1988 addition of the parking regulations to Oak Bluffs zoning and its written law.

The solution to this problem is for Tony’s to purchase an additional parking area.

The people affected by changing Dukes County avenue — and possibly many other roads — to one-way traffic for the purpose of creating parking for one business, believe this change is a direct violation of the parking regulations voted by a majority as a change to Oak Bluffs zoning in 1988. This change is beyond the discretion of the selectmen and must, by law, be voted on again as a zoning change. Legal challenge to this action is being contemplated.

Make your voice heard and come to the selectmen’s meeting on Nov. 15 when this issue is to be discussed.

Donald Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs

BOUNDARY DISPUTE

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following was sent to Adam Moore, executive director of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation:

As you and I both know, despite your claim that Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation told a land court judge that the Ramsey couple’s online comments were what “scuttled settlement talk,” you have been on the record for a long time as refusing any negotiated settlement in this matter. You have told me on the phone that you will not negotiate, claiming the property as yours, period. Marcia Cini’s efforts, of the Cini-Miller law firm, to mediate this issue were entirely rejected by you, quite some time ago, as has every earlier effort on the willing part of the Ramseys to settle this case in a fair and dignified manner, long before Sheriff’s Meadow’s conduct in this matter became public — and before you decided to sue. It is precisely these arrogant but inexplicable refusals from you, all along, that incite the community’s loss of respect for this public land conservation organization. Although you may not like what the public is saying online about Sheriff’s Meadow’s diminished reputation, and it is the right of every U.S. citizen to freedom of speech, it is simply untrue that online comments are in any way connected to or responsible for your longtime, adamant refusal to settle this boundary dispute. Telling tales out of school, to the press, no less, further degrades the public trust in you.

From Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation’s pledge to the public as written in an earlier SMF annual report: “Property Boundaries — Using aerial photos overlain with assessors lot lines, we now check the boundaries of each of our properties for potential problems. When needed, we visit the site with the global positioning system (GPS) and use any visible boundary markers to determine the extent, if any, of a boundary infraction.”

Untrue! Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation’s disgraceful lack of due diligence to follow through on their pledge to the public’s trust is a terrible way to conduct yourselves. You have many cloudy boundary titles on Sheriff’s Meadow properties. Further, the Ramsey property does have physical boundary markers at the site as well as the assessors lot lines on file at town hall.

I speak for many in the community when I urge you to drop this lawsuit, or at the very least, mediate an agreement as the land court judge and the community demand. It would be the honorable thing to do.

Jackie Mendez-Diez

Chilmark

HIGH-PRICED ISLAND

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

There is a general consensus that locals should attempt to do business with local merchants. I have to secure a new passport, and therefore needed to have two small photos of myself. I called a local store that performs this service, and they quoted me a price of $13.50 that seemed a little high for something that would take less than five minutes from taking the photo to turning over the photos to me.

Just by chance, I am going to Falmouth tomorrow on business and so I called CVS as I had heard that the chain does passport pictures. Their price was $7.95! Merchants of the Vineyard are you kidding me? Can you see the future? You cannot survive on just the three-month summer tourist season. You have to be realistic on your pricing. A look into the future can simply be seen by the number of UPS and Federal Express trucks on the streets of the Vineyard.

Today everyone has a credit or debit card and all of us have computers with access to the Internet. If not, then the libraries have computers. With free delivery and no sales tax, I have ordered everything from new blinds to a large television set. Sure, if I need a $9 broom today, I will go to the local stores. However, if it is an item that I do not absolutely need today and especially a high-priced item, I am going to bypass the local merchant.

Of course one of the reasons for the unreasonable costs here on the Vineyard is the high cost of the Steamship Authority. They have twice as many personnel as the Coast Guard requires. When you drive your car to the ticket booth, there are three employees in the booth. One gives you the boarding pass, one is reading a newspaper with his cup of coffee and the third person is waiting for the second person to finish reading his newspaper. When you board the ship, there are at least five employees waiting to take your ticket.

Even the local merchants are fighting among themselves. I needed a device to check if a battery still had juice in it. I went to one hardware store and they had the device for $13. I went down the street to another hardware store and the same device was priced at $8.95. Do you know how to spell greed?

Jim Bader

Oak Bluffs

WILD THINGS

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to send a message of sincere thanks to all who participated in, sponsored our prizes and attended the Local Wild Food Challenge at the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club.

The kind support and great effort shown by the Vineyard community was completely uplifting.

I am really looking forward to next year’s Wild Food Challenge on the Island. Thank you all again.

Bill Manson

Edgartown

TOP HAT FOR COMSOG

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Last Saturday, No. 5, the Island community turned out in full force to help the Community Solar Greenhouse of Martha’s Vineyard raise our new and much-needed greenhouse roof. Led by Jeremiah Brown, lead foreman at Vineyard Gardens, the roof-raisers slipped the old roof off, then wrestled and secured two layers of new plastic to complete the bright transformation. Volunteers from across the Island, the Dukes County Community Service and members pitched in to ensure a healthy growing environment for Comsog’s organic plants, flowers, vegetables and educational programs. The seedlings are already smiling at the difference! Thanks to all the willing workers — your generous work will pay off in wonderful years of great growing.

Thalia Scanlan

Oak Bluffs

The writer is Comsog president.

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.