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Vineyard residents anticipating president’s vacation with indifference

August 14, 1997

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. (AP) _ ``Welcome All The President’s Men,″ reads the sign on the guard shack of the drawbridge over the inlet separating Oak Bluffs from Tisbury.

But the red, white and blue lettering is two years old and fading, and so apparently is the welcome among some island residents for President Clinton and his entourage, due to arrive on Martha’s Vineyard Sunday for the third summer in five years.

``There’s plenty of room for him when he comes here, but not for anybody else,″ griped Bob Maciel, the bridge tender who put up the sign in 1994 but has changed his opinion since then. ``He’s got no business down here as far as I’m concerned.″

Most Vineyarders are used to Clinton’s summer visits _ and many are weary of the traffic, crowds and high prices that come with them.

``The scuttlebutt at the grocery store this morning was, why can’t he come in October when there are fewer people and it’s still perfectly nice,″ said Dorothy McKeon, sitting on her porch on Clinton Avenue across from a house where President Ulysses S. Grant once stayed in 1874.

Others insist they don’t care one way or another about the president’s vacation. He’s just one star in a constellation of celebrities who spend summers on the island about 13 miles off Cape Cod.

A third group holds that the other two are secretly thrilled to see Clinton arrive _ along with his free-spending entourage and press corps. Some small cottages are being rented out at upwards of $3,000 a week.

``The bottom line is the dollar sign,″ said Leslie Malcouronne, a seventh-generation Vineyard resident. ``Hey, I’d throw my own family out of the house if I could get $3,000 a week.″

The Clintons will stay at the secluded Oyster Pond estate of developer Richard Friedman. White House support staff will fill another 60 rental houses.

``People complain all the way to the bank,″ said Elza Minor, a taxi driver who chauffeured some members of the press corps when Clinton visited in 1994.

Traffic snarls easily on Martha’s Vineyard, with a year-round population of 18,000 that mushrooms to 100,000 people in summertime. And when the president’s in town, the Secret Service often blocks roads and closes beaches. Air and boat traffic also are restricted.

``Most people come to Martha’s Vineyard to relax and chill out,″ said Lisa Schwartz, program coordinator for the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. ``You can’t really do that when the Secret Service is roping off the beaches.″

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