Tourism at the Gay Head Cliffs may get a boost this summer. The executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum told the Aquinnah selectmen this week that the Gay Head Lighthouse will be open weekdays beginning June 21.
David Nathans said the new hours at the lighthouse will provide more sightseeing opportunities for tour bus companies by being open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to open the lighthouse for more visitation. It’s a wonderful asset,” Mr. Nathans said at the Tuesday meeting. “We’ve talked to the tour companies both on the Island and the sightseeing [groups] and they think it’s a great idea. A number of their bus groups would want to stop and spend some time there.”
The museum has been the steward of three lighthouses on the Vineyard — Gay Head, Edgartown and East Chop — since 1993. Aquinnah resident Richard Skidmore has provided sunset tours of the historic Gay Head light on weekends for many years as a volunteer; he remains the lighthouse keeper, Mr. Nathans said, but museum staff will now be at the lighthouse during the weekday hours. “I think it’s a wonderful idea,” selectman Camille Rose said. “I’m so glad you’re doing it; it’s been badly needed for a long time.”
Police chief Randhi Belain expressed concern about tourists crossing the road and wandering around the Cliffs; selectmen agreed that more signs can be posted to prevent the problem.
Also new at the Cliffs this summer will be a visitor kiosk hosted by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Derrill Bazzy from South Mountain Company showed the selectmen a conceptual design based on a traditionalWampanoag wetu; the kiosk will be built off-site and brought to the Cliffs when completed.
“The goal of the kiosk is to present information about the tribe and our department electronically,” tribe natural resources director Bret Stearns said. “It will take some time, but I think it will be a nice asset.”
Mr. Stearns said his department is working closely with the membership and the tribal historic preservation office to design the building that will also host a touch screen kiosk. A grant from the Environmental Protection Agency is helping to fund the project.
The selectmen also appointed Mr. Stearns and fellow resource department employees Andrew Jacobs and Curtis Chandler as deputy shellfish constables for the town. Mr. Stearns requested the temporary appointment in the absence of shellfish constable Brian (Chip) Vanderhoop. The appointment is for 30 days.
“Chip is away and in his absence we’re using the town boat, so from an organizational standpoint, it’s prudent to recognize what we’re doing,” Mr. Stearns said. “When we’re on the vessel and do certain activities to assist in the pond we’re doing it under the authority of the town,” he added.
“I’d like to discuss it and make it permanent at some point,” said selectman Jim Newman.
Ms. Rose agreed. “I’d like to consider appointing the same people as assistant harbor masters, mainly because I would like to take advantage of you as somebody who can be on the ground when we need them there,” she said. The selectmen decided to wait until their next meeting to discuss the second appointment.
In other business, selectmen approved the transfer of a taxi license for the Aquinnah Taxi Company from Edward Panek to new owners Samantha Church and Jim Hickey. Mr. Panek cited family health issues as his reason for transferring the three-van company. The company will continue to run year-round and will be based at the airport.
by Remy Tumin