Developing Issues

From Gazette editions of August, 1985:

The battle to develop Edgartown at the speed and pace of unchecked growth rages on. Pressures are felt most acutely at the two entrances to town. At the east there is the explosion of commercial growth along Upper Main street, bursting out toward Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. At the south there still is rolling farmland before the subdivision of residential housing along the road to West Tisbury. Already the face of Edgartown’s eastern gateway is changing beyond recognition.

But there is hope at the southern entrance. Eighteen acres of lovely land may be preserved as farmland forever if the state is persuaded to buy development rights to the property. Sherman Hoar, the owner of the land, has asked the state to purchase the development rights with money from the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Fund. If these efforts are successful, the 18 acres, now farmed by James and Debbie Athearn of Morning Glory Farm, would go to them and remain an active agricultural use. It is a step that will go a long way to protect the last remaining entrance to Edgartown.

Someone new is at the helm at the Four Flags shopping mall off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road near the Triangle. R. Brandon Harrison was named as trustee this week for Four Flags Associates Realty Trust, which manages the project. Mr. Harrison replaces George Strimel, the developer and former Four Flags trustee. Mr. Strimel said this week he has divested all of his interest in the shopping complex.

Mr. Harrison, who owns the Edgartown Market and several other downtown enterprises, said he is pleased to take over as a trustee. “I am glad to be involved,” he said. “I think one of the reasons I was asked to be involved is because of my contacts with the postal service.” Earlier this year postal authorities announced plans to move the Edgartown post office to the upper Main street business area, citing space and parking needs.

The Fowle family home on Chappaquiddick is a weathered board and batten structure. Bruce Fowle designed it. He also designed a 34-story office building at Broadway and 52nd street in New York city, a 40-floor skyscraper at 767 Third avenue, the Museum of American Crafts, a big Mobil Oil computer center in Princeton, N.J., and several other homes on the Vineyard. Bruce Fowle is a founding partner in the New York firm Fox & Fowle Architects.

The first structure Bruce Fowle designed alone was a Vineyard home, a small cottage for his father in law on the Chappaquiddick shore in 1968. He has a lot to say about design on the Vineyard — about its direction, its value, its shortcomings and its power to both change and create an environment on the Island.

“If you’re building along the waterfront you’re impacting a whole atmosphere. One wishes there were constraints. Nothing is worse than to put something strange and of a particular elevation right on the water. It is really a shame. Each person is trying to make a splash among all this chaos of angular roof, curved roof, every geometric shape you can possibly imagine. There’s no warmth, no design.”

Celebrities playing in the summer jazz festival come and go, but Jimmy Burgoff is one of a small number of jazz musicians who make music on Martha’s Vineyard as a year-round occupation. Jimmy’s group, the Jazz Quartet Minus One, is one of two local bands which have been featured before such jazz greats as Herbie Mann and Dizzy Gillespie and the Ramsey Lewis Trio.

Mr. Burgoff has lived on the Island for seven years. A native of Manhatten who attended its Music and Art High School, he decided in 1978 he didn’t want to spend another hot summer in the city. After a summer on the Vineyard Mr. Burgoff found that he couldn’t afford to leave, “because street musicians on the Island don’t make much money.” He drove a tour bus and school buses and parlayed his work for the thrift shop doing pickups of large donations into what is now a successful moving and hauling business.

His business success has limited Jimmy’s music career for the time being, but it is most likely a temporary condition. This is a man who states off-handedly that it takes 25 years for a jazz musician to become proficient. Mr. Burgoff, whose mother is the opera singer Adele Rivie, grew up on operatic music. He started as a drummer and percussionist, he explains. “And then I started listening to jazz. My gut feeling was that I couldn’t play as well as the masters. I felt that I could do that with the bass.” Now he jokes about being the only left-handed bass player he knows. His business card advertises that he plays at funerals as well as weddings. He hasn’t played one yet, although he has been to musician’s funerals where there was music, and recommends them. His dedication to the art of jazz is clear.

Compiled by Cynthia Meisner