First family returns to Martha's Vineyard for summer vacation, while furloughs kick in

The first family is returning this summer to Martha’s Vineyard, the third time the Obamas have vacationed on the exclusive Massachusetts island in the past four years.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will arrive August 10 and stay through August 18, the White House said earlier this month.

The vacation is drawing some criticism about the president relaxing among the rich and famous while drastic cuts to the federal budget known as sequester kick in with full force, including the start this month of furloughs for 85 percent of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce.

The family is reportedly staying near Chilmark pond in a “veddy private, veddy secluded and veddy posh island retreat,” writes Boston Herald columnist Gayle Fee.

Among the closest neighbors will be Hollywood couple Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, whom Fee describes as “ardent” Democrats and friends of President Clinton and wife Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state.

Still, at least one local merchant is excited about the first family’s return.

“It’s nice to have the president of the United States,” Robert Breth, owner of Martha’s Bike Rental, told on Sunday. “It puts the word out about Martha’s Vineyard.”

Breth downplayed the inconveniences of the visit, saying the presidential motorcade can create some traffic problems, “but it’s quiet for the most part. They’re not here to make a ruckus.”

The White House says the first couple has no public events scheduled that week. Daughters Sasha and Malia have joined their parents on the previous vacations.

The Obamas didn’t vacation on the island during the 2012 election season but spent the first three trips at the Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, which overlooks Tisbury Great Pond.

However, the 28-acre retreat was bought in 2011 for $21.9 million by British architect Lord Norman Foster.