Contractor Finds Success Embracing Island’s Pristine Environment

September 2011, Vol. 66 No. 9

It’s among the most historic, unspoiled and coveted vacation spots anywhere in North America. Located off the southern tip of Cape Cod, MA, Martha’s Vineyard is the largest true island along the East Coast of the United States.

Known primarily as a summer colony accessible only by boat and air, the number of year-round residents living on this 87.5-square-mile collection of resort communities is estimated to be approximately 15,000 full time dwellers. The summer population often swells to more than 75,000 people, including a virtual who’s who of celebrities and dignitaries. More than 55 percent of the Vineyard’s nearly 14,500-plus homes are seasonally occupied.

Martha’s Vineyard is made up of six towns, each governed by a board of selectmen, elected by town voters. All six communities are also members of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the entity that regulates island-wide building along with environmental and aesthetic concerns. Recently, some government programs on the island have been regionalized, including the public school system, emergency management and waste management, and there is increasing pressure to adopt further regionalization in the areas of law enforcement, water treatment and possible government regionalization.

Now recognized as among the successful business entrepreneurs who, as an outsider, was able to break in and become successful as an infrastructure installation contractor is Andy Farrissey, who founded Farrissey Telecom in Oak Bluffs, one of the six towns located on the Vineyard. Farrissey started his company in 1983 after spending three years as a technician working for Rolland Cablevision in nearby Rhode Island.

Protect, preserve
“The locals are very much concerned about leaving the island as it is,” Farrissey explains, “so it’s not necessarily considered a good thing to come in and try to widen a road. Residents of Martha’s Vineyard are primarily concerned with maintaining the natural ‘patina’ of what is there. It’s what people come here for, the originality and uniqueness of the island. No McDonalds, no Dunkin’ Donuts and very few chains; perhaps a couple of hardware stores and an occasional grocery store but that’s about it -- certainly no restaurant chains.”

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