From Gazette editions of November 1986:
The Seaview Hotel building was purchased Monday by Albert Siner Jr. of Warwick, R.I., for $1,050,000 from Loretta A. Balla.
Conversion of the 80-year-old, four-story hotel into a contemporary 24-condominium complex will begin next week. Richard Lewis, who is overseeing the project, said gutting of the interior of the building will be the first step in the eight-month process. Mr. Siner said with reconstruction of the building, the cost of the project will run as high as $7 million.
Mr. Siner said in a press release: “We’re proud to be able to renovate this fine 80-year-old hotel which has lately been a victim of old age and to transform the Seaview into finely planned and well designed luxury residential condominium units that reflect the charm and lifestyle of Oak Bluffs.”
An 18-month, Island-wide drive to preserve Nip n’ Tuck Farm, symbol of traditional agrarian techniques on the Vineyard, ended yesterday with the formal transfer of development rights to the state. The 54 acres of land along State Road in West Tisbury will remain as farmland forever through a cooperative effort of the town, the Vineyard Conservation Society and the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
The Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program was passed by the state legislature in the latter half of the 1970s to keep farms in agricultural use. The state contribution toward the purchase of the farm totals $420,000. West Tisbury voters appropriated $30,000 last spring and the Vineyard Conservation Society raised $25,000.
Originally purchased as a 135-acre tract in 1956 by Fred S. Fisher Jr., who has remained the owner and operator over the years, the farm, once called Willow Bank Farm, now includes the only working small-scale dairy on the Island, an orchard, open pasture and three-acre vegetable garden and market stand. A recent count of livestock includes 25 head of cattle, ponies, two pigs, 40 chickens and 10 horses, including two teams of workhorses named Maggie and Jeff and May and June.
Children are often treated to pony and hayrides and milking demonstrations on the property. Mr. Fisher, at 62, has become as much an institution as the farm itself, and is known for lending years of knowledge he gained on the farm and at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture to young farmhands.
Those who were involved from the start to help Mr. Fisher say the unique reputation of the farm as an Island landmark sets this purchase apart from other transactions to save farms elsewhere in the state. “What impressed me was the way the community came together. People look forward to that farm. It’s a pretty diversified, interesting farm. The community has saved it. The community has done the work,” said August Schumacher, state commissioner of food and agriculture.
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission last night rejected a proposed 23-unit motel on 4 1/2 acres in the West Tisbury business district. Landowner Francis Cournoyer and developers William Bold and William Bradley asserted that their Chicama Inn offered more “betterments” than detriments for West Tisbury, but the MVC land use planning subcommittee and 11 of the 12 commissioners eligible to vote saw it differently.
The developers pointed to the addition of an estimated $13,000 a year to the tax base; the “upscale nature of units [that] should attract older, perhaps more influential people,” who would patronize local businesses and not bring children with them; and said their project would generally “enhance the character of West Tisbury” with its New England/Martha’s Vineyard small-town atmosphere.” Mr. Bold said, “We can make it a success because of its prettiness.”
Commissioner Benjamin Moore of West Tisbury said the design would create room for many more occupants than the two people per apartment the developers envisioned in each of the units, with no enforcement except by the owners. “As far as I am concerned, it still looks as though it’s double that,” Mr. Moore said. “The sizes of these units are ridiculous. It’s like they could bring a basketball in there and play.”
When Steven Kenney, superintendant of the Oak Bluffs water department, learned the town will receive $310,000 from the Johns-Manville Corp., he said he was very much surprised. “I expected less than this,” he said. Settlements don’t come easily and Mr. Kenney said he is familiar with disappointment. A total of 70,000 feet of asbestos water pipe in Oak Bluffs is lined with tetrachloroethylene (TCE), a carcinogen. Mr. Kenney estimates that since the town began its program of leaching pipes in 1980, the town has lost $2 million in water which is run from the pipes to prevent it from stagnating and accumulating toxins. “We’ve wasted 24 million gallons of water, he said. Mr. Kenney said he got notice of the award in an express mail letter from the attorney general’s office. Oak Bluffs was one of 41 communities in the state to receive a cash settlement. Tisbury received $123,000.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner