Martha’s Vineyard businesses typically look to August as the peak of the summer season, when they make enough money to get them through the cold, quiet winter. Some expected a boon from the president’s visit, but merchants are seeing road closures detouring visitors – and their dollars – away from sites near the Obamas’ vacation home.
The week the first family chose to spend on Martha’s Vineyard happens to be packed with events that attract the most summer tourists, with fireworks-filled nights and an annual agricultural fair, according to the Daily Mail.
“We do as much business in that one week as we do in three weeks in February,” gas station co-owner, Patrick Jenkinson, told The Martha’s Vineyard Times. “But we’re way down from what we usually get in sales, more than 15 to 20 percent. We really rely on this third week in August, especially Fair week.”
Jenkinson said businesses found out four days before the president’s arrival that their road would become a dead end.
“None of our local politicians want to hear about it, nor do the local police,” he said.
But this year presents a different scenario because of where the Obamas are staying, The Times reported:
The road closing is the first associated with a president’s visit to Martha’s Vineyard. The unusual security arrangement is related to the president’s choice of a vacation house, this one far less secluded than his previous rental.
In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Obamas rented Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28.5-acre compound on Town Cove, off Tisbury Great Pond, and situated at the end of a long dirt road.
Blue Heron was sold in December 2011 to an architect, Lord Norman Foster, and his wife, Lady Elena Foster, of Thames Bank in Great Britain.
Still, merchants are having a hard time adjusting to the change.
“The president was literally our neighbor here, when he stayed at Blue Heron,” Jenkinson said. “All the other times he visited, it has been a boost in business. We had Secret Service vehicles and the motorcade gassing up, in addition to our regular customers. We never had it impact our business negatively before.”
Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi told The Times he recommended modifications to make the plan more flexible for local residents and businesses, but the Secret Service made the final decision.
Watch the president interact with residents during a lunch stop on Tuesday here via Daily Mail.
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