Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
My wife and I are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support the came our way on May 1 at Outerland, that we're really at a loss to even begin thanking.
I know things started with Barbara Puciul-Hoy and Slim Bob Berosh, and soon Barry and Mona Rosenthal of Outerland , Don Groover, and Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish all joined the juggernaut. So there's a load of thanks right there.
Beyond that, food was cooked, posters made, and local media generously publicized the event, so another truckload of thanks. Somehow I suspect Tisbury Printer and Vineyard Playhouse were hotbeds of conspiracy.
And then there was that sweet, crazy audience. I'm going to have to live a long time and not be a jerk to pay these good Island people for the reception I was given.
We are both humbled and buoyed by the financial support that poured in. Believe me, we can use every penny as we navigate the changes in life cancer has dealt us.
For me, the best thing was still the music. Hearing people who I've watched study roots music for decades cut loose and play it real not only packed the dance floor but warmed my heart.
Remember, this is the Island where Thomas Hart Benton painted Gail Huntington. We have a tradition here of simple, honest music shared with joy and finesse, and that tradition was rompin' and stompin' May 1, at Outerland.
So, thanks for the hard work, the love, the money, and most of all for the spirit. Thanks also from Milo in Mongolia, where he's reaching for the dream.
Basia and Maynard Silva
Support the Oak Bluffs override
To the Editor:
I want the voters who will be voting on the override on May 28, in Oak Bluffs to know how strongly I oppose placing the town's budget problems on just the schools. With less than 40 percent of the town's budget, the schools in Oak Bluffs are being asked to fund 100 percent of the budget override. This is wrong. This is a town problem, not just a school problem.
I find disturbing the reoccurrence of the us versus them attitude about schools in this community that was predominant in the 1980s and early '90s. The town would still own the building on School Street, now worth well over a million dollars, instead of selling it for a mere $245,000 in 1994. I thought the attitude that the school was not part of the town had gone away. But now that this override is for the school instead of distributed among all the departments, it is back. Very unfortunate.
The school committee made more than $207,500 of cuts from our proposed elementary budget before even submitting it to the finance committee. In the last five years, the school's share of the town budget has decreased from 39.97 percent in 2004 to 36.79 percent this year, not increased, as this override may suggest.
Our elementary school is a community. Its budget supports 408 children, their teachers, guidance professionals, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, cafeteria workers providing breakfast and lunch, and an office staff.
The elementary school budget supports custodial costs, building maintenance and most building repairs, heat and electricity, wastewater, and telephone, unlike all other town departments except the wastewater department.
Our population remains steady at between 405 and 410 students, and we do not anticipate the drop in enrollment that is expected at the high school.
Negotiated salaries are 78 percent of the budget, Superintendent shared services are 16 percent of the budget and the expenses - cut from last year - are six percent of the budget.
But if the elementary school override fails, we will make more than $236,000 in cuts in the elementary school budget. If the voters support the override, they will be supporting:
Grades 2-5 Spanish.
Two special needs para-professionals.
The library assistant.
An after school program for kids, to help with homework.
One of three bus routes.
Our cultural programs.
A mentoring program for new teachers. and more, totaling more than $236,000 in cuts and seven full- or part-time staff.
Oak Bluffs already spends substantially less per child than Tisbury or Edgartown or Up-Island.
We must support the override to maintain not only the excellent elementary education we provide to our kids, but to stay on a par with the other towns on Martha's Vineyard, not put the kids from Oak Bluffs at a disadvantage when they reach the High School.
Oak Bluffs School Committee
Not big money at all
To the Editor:
Next week, the voters in Oak Bluffs will vote on an override and debt exclusion that totals to $864,655. You might think that is a substantial chunk of money.
So, consider that America spends that amount every three minutes and 43 seconds on an unjustifiable and indefensible war that never should have happened.
Bradley Square opposition a mystery
To the Editor:
Ever since moving to the Vineyard almost 10 years ago, my husband and I have driven or walked past the Bradley property in Oak Bluffs and watched it slowly falling into ruin. We entertained dreams of buying it ourselves and using it as a home/studio where I could make and sell my art and where we could offer affordable rentals to other artists in the developing "Soho" area of this wonderful Island.
So, now to have a viable plan to make this a reality for so many people on so many levels is a dream come true. Imagine it, affordable living and working space in a great location for artists who don't have the means, or the heart, for mega-mansions - affordable housing for people who desperately need it, and the revitalization of a historic neighborhood where a number of derelict and/or abandoned houses blight the area for the rest of the residents and home owners.
And yet, there are those who would so constrict the development of the Bradley Square Project as to render this all but impossible.
What really is the problem? Why is there venom dripping from the trees? Why are long-time friends and neighbors turning against one another? I don't believe it is all about parking on the streets for at best three or four days a year for a couple of hours. Is it covert opposition to affordable housing? Is the NIMBY (not in my back yard) principle at work here? We all know what people who need affordable housing are like. I certainly do, I'm one of them. Is it fear or distrust of change? Is it concern, or fear, over the kinds of strangers who might move in and alter the ambiance of the neighborhood? Is the stonewalling a hedge against future profiteering? These are questions that come to mind. If I had the answers, I wouldn't be asking them, but I do believe they need to be asked.
What I do know is that over the years of my living here, I've seen a funky little tumble-down neighborhood, slowly blossom into the "Arts District" of Martha's Vineyard. It is like no other place on the Island. Here you find artists and shopkeepers and just plain folks, living and working together, helping each other, improving the neighborhood, and bolstering the economy of both the town and the Island. More of the same can only be better.
I want to go on record, as a working artist, a working minister, and a voting resident of Oak Bluffs, to say that we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers. Remember, when the last tourist leaves in October, who do we really have but each other? Whatever we can do to provide affordable living and working space, as well as community meeting and worship space, to the many faces and facets of our uniquely diverse community, so be it.
Rev. Judith Campbell
Bradley Square will attract us
To the Editor:
This letter is in regard to the four artist live-work units in Bradley Square. They will be bought by regular folks who are also artists. They will be truck drivers, receptionists, waitresses, teacher's aids and other occupations that artists have traditionally worked to support their passions. Their studios will be their private work spaces and will be open to the public on weekends or during special events. I just read the article about the summer shuffle in The Martha's Vineyard Times, and two names popped out. One is an award-winning photographer, and the other is a well-known graphic artist and writer. Both are part of the regular Vineyard workforce, and both struggle to find a permanent home.
People wanting to move into the neighborhood - a good thing. We should be happy to see people, renovation, sidewalks and crosswalks. Bradley Square will provide off-street parking for every live-in unit. The shops along Dukes County Avenue have adequate off-street parking 95 percent of the time and legal on-street parking is used during town events (Illumination Night, Fireworks etc.) and art strolls. It would be nice to see more signage directing people to the many on-street parking spots. We are a downtown B1 district and are an area that has been a business district for more than 100 years. We hope that as it develops we keep it a pedestrian friendly area that embraces everyone.
During the development of the Bradley Square project all meetings were open to the public for input and discussion. The neighborhood's difficult past was only mentioned in reference to the fact that Bradley Square will create a neighborhood of people who want to be in the arts district. The number of people who will occupy Bradley Square will not even come close to the number of people who used to reside in the same neighborhood, when it was a place for large families and small businesses.
A humanitarian development
To the Editor:
I am writing in support of the Bradley Square project. I live at 91R Dukes County Avenue. I am a neighbor living in the arts district. I am not a working artist. I came to this specific neighborhood to live amongst like-minded people, in a diverse community of people who care about each other, and who believe that it is important to not just take from the community, but also to give back, by growing the neighborhood and bringing beauty and culture to this part of Oak Bluffs. I have no agenda. What I do have is an open heart and mind to believe in the people and in the neighborhood.
One of the reasons I came to this community was because it was a place where artists could live, work, and display their art. Many artists cannot afford to live or stay on the Island, and this project would help them to be able to afford to reside here.
There has been the suggestion that this project was planned without the input of neighbors, and then presented to them in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of fashion. To the contrary, all the Bradley Square meetings have been open to the public and it was encouraged for all to attend and have their voices heard. I know that because I came from off-Island to make my suggestions. I was so excited about the care and thought that went into the plans and drawings of the project. What a beautiful way to anchor the neighborhood and to honor the history of the black community.
There seems to be a perception that it is difficult to park in this neighborhood, and as I look out my kitchen window onto Vineyard Avenue, I realize that there are tons of available on-street parking spaces, which I believe are there for public use.
As to another area of objection, everyone who knows me knows that plants and trees are my love. As far as them taking down trees on the Bradley Square property, the existing trees are marginal at best, and the plan is to leave the best trees there and to plant new healthy ones with the beautiful landscaping for future generations to grow to love.
It's my hope that a few people's negative agenda will not block this incredible humanitarian project.
Your help needed
To the Editor:
A lot of Vineyard organizations have been hurt over the past decade or so by the clash between two types of leadership: 1) the rigid, fear-based, fundamentalist thinking; and 2) the flexible, creative, servant leadership which regards its clients as individuals with individual needs.
The unavoidable split that occurred several years ago at Camp Jabberwocky thankfully resulted in the founding of a new camp for the disabled on Nantucket, known as The Tulgey Wood and run by Gillian Butchman who had directed, with other members of her family, our Vineyard Camp Jabberwocky for 35 years.
Many Vineyarders I know, who tried not to take sides, continue to support Camp Jabberwocky, yet still support Gillian and will always be grateful for her caring and creative approach to those who are challenged physically and/or mentally. While the overwhelming majority of the former Camp Jabberwocky July adult campers and counselors followed Gillian to Nantucket, the way I see it is that we are fortunate to have another camp for these challenged campers who before only had the Vineyard camp. This summer will mark the Nantucket camp's third year of operation. And the Vineyard camp continues as well.
Gillian's fearlessness and enthusiasm are contagious. I can only speak for the handful of Island kids I know who have worked every year since high school as unpaid counselors under Gillian's mentoring. These kids have grown into adults who are totally committed to community service and who, without exception, have gone into the fields of medicine, osteopathy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sports therapy for the disabled, and the like. As a parent and as a member of the Vineyard community, I will always be grateful to both Gillian and Camp Jabberwocky for leading our kids in this direction.
We need to support visionaries such as Gillian by financially supporting her work. If we don't, regulations promulgated by the government, the insurance industry, etc. will frighten all the love out of this extraordinary brand of community service, which is offered joyfully to those in need of our help, and we will have "institutions" not summer camps like these. In the words of Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, "only when differences are accepted, not as a threat but as a treasure, is each one free to be him or herself."
The Tulgey Wood camp needs to raise just $70,000 to cover the three largest annual expenses: rent, food, and transportation for 70 participants (campers and counselors) during their three-week camp this summer on Nantucket. The Tulgey Wood is funded 100 percent by volunteer dollars, operated entirely by volunteers, has a one-to-one camper/counselor ratio and is a 501(c)3 non-profit.
Your donation may be made payable to Katie's World, the umbrella 501(c)3. Your contribution is tax-deductible. Mail to The Tulgey Wood, c/o Gillian Lamb Butchman at 12504 Rolling Road, Potomac, MD 20854.
Carol E. Lashnits
What's the editor's opinion?
To the Editor:
Here is a quote from an editorial from last week's Times regarding the Letter to the Editor page of the paper. "After all, if this business is intended to be a real conversation between you and The Times, for sure we won't always agree, except to agree to go on talking, in print or online. Your choice."
I'm still waiting for The Times' Editor to state a position about public access to West Tisbury's town park, Lambert's Cove Beach. The Times had no problem printing an editorial chastising the residents around Ice House Pond for trying to do what West Tisbury already does. That is, deny public access to a public area. If the editor or anyone in West Tisbury wants to start talking, I would rather it was in print.
End beach apartheid.
On to Oak Bluffs. I would have more faith in the Oak Bluffs selectmen adding a half an hour to last call, if any of them were out past 10 pm.
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Tisbury School staff, we would like to thank our PTO for organizing a wonderful staff appreciation week. All week long we were feted with lovely flowers and scrumptious foods. Each morning, winners were randomly chosen to receive items donated by Island businesses. Thank you so much for highlighting the work and dedication which keeps the Tisbury School such a vibrant community. The goodwill generated by such appreciative gestures was embraced by one and all.
Unified Arts Coordinator
To the Editor:
A teen orders a product online. After weeks of waiting, and unknown to us at the time, our neighbor saw a yellow shipping van stop in front of our driveway. A woman got out of the cab and got into the back of the van. Minutes later she got out and put a box on the ground near the door and left.
Unknown to that delivery driver, the teen's nana was sitting two feet from that door, waiting for the teen's return.
A call came and she went outside to find the box. Seeing the box was open, she looked inside to find the item was gone. The tape was undone. The tape on the box specified a signature was needed and not to sign if box was opened, and if so to check before signing that item was there. This message was written many times on tape. Also in large, bold letters on box it said, Signature Required.
There was no knock on the door, no signature asked for or given, only the empty box. This has not happened with other freight carriers.
This teen worked hard for the money to buy this item. He's learned about trust and honesty a lot sooner than his nana.
To the Editor:
On this Island, real estate is unreal.
Pinheads at the wheel
To the Editor:
Having observed a very close call today when a small, red Dodge dump truck almost wiped out a bicyclist in North Tisbury, on the State Road Monday, I remind all vehicle drivers to remember that bicyclists, joggers, walkers, horseback riders, and other non-vehicular users of the roads (and even mopeds) have a right to use the road, and vehicle drivers should approach them and pass with extreme care.
We have an Island which probably has more dump trucks, and pickup trucks towing trailers, per hundred population than anywhere on earth, and our roads are now bloody dangerous. Worse than ever. Witness this oblivious driver who was speeding along a narrow and curving section of State Road, almost caught the bicyclist with the passenger side mirror and then proceeded to tailgate me all the way to West Tisbury.
I am really sick about the way our roads are being ruled and ruined for non-vehicular use, by the huge construction and landscaping equipment, often thoughtlessly and carelessly driven by testosterone-driven pinheads.
Slow down, get off your cell phones, stop oogling the girl in a bikini and drive responsibly. We can't see to identify you through the dark windows, but we can read your license plates.
Virginia Crowell Jones
Faith and enthusiasm
To the Editor:
Thank you to Island fifth- and sixth-grade students, plus their teachers and parents, who braved rainy weather last Saturday morning, May 17, to attend the Martha's Vineyard Model Solar Car Race at the Chilmark Community Center. This race is sponsored by Vineyard Energy Project and Cape Light Compact. It had been originally scheduled for May 3 and postponed because of rain on that day.
We thank everyone for their faith in the weather forecast and their enthusiasm for this project. Forty teams of students were interviewed inside the Center by community volunteers who discussed design, technical merit, and solar knowledge with each team. Full sun emerged just in time for the race at noon!
Although all Island elementary schools participated in making model solar cars for this project, not all participants could attend this rescheduled race. Thanks to teachers Jackie Guzalak, Chilmark School, Anna Cotton, Charter School, Gale Meister, Edgartown School, Kelli Pecararo, Oak Bluffs School, Dan Johnson, West Tisbury School, Lynn Gatchell and Alice Robinson, Tisbury School, and their students for their spirited participation in learning about solar energy, photovoltaic cells and the transfer of energy while making model solar cars for this project.
Thanks also to our community volunteers who are essential to ensuring this race takes place in a variety of ways, including making the race course, inspecting cars, registering and interviewing students, assisting at the start and finish lines, plus organizing ribbons and prizes to give out. Volunteers for the rescheduled race included: John Christensen, Tim Lasker, Sue Hruby, Peter Cabana, Paul Karasik, Paul Pimental, Mike, Cathy and Christi Minkiewicz, Brock Callen, Domingo Pagano, Dick Knabel, Stan Schonbrun, Linda Thompson, Zelda Gamson, Jannette Vanderhoop, Megan Ottens-Sargent, Ana Sargent, and Warren Doty.