Letters to the Editor
Time to forgive
To the Editor:
The recent controversy regarding the abuse of Sheriff's Meadow Foundation meadowland and trees in bartered exchange for mowing services is very troubling. While I do not condone this practice, I believe an honest error in judgment was made.
My family and I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dick Johnson over the years, as we are long-time supporters of SMF. We know Dick has a sincere interest in land preservation and stewardship, and he is very ecologically minded. We do not believe he would intentionally allow the gross abuse of SMF land. When he accepted full accountability for his recent actions, acknowledging his mistake, we should take him at his word and accept his apology.
For many years, he worked tirelessly as head of SMF to preserve our Island. Rather than vilify him for one errant action, we should thank him for his years of service, because Dick is among the many who have dedicated their lives to make the Island a better place for future generations. Imagine how developed the Island would be without SMF's conservation efforts. There is no question, the damage done to the Caroline Tuthill and Priscilla Hancock properties is reprehensible. There should have been better oversight. The Sheriff's Meadow Foundation and landscaper John Hoff should make full and immediate reparation to those properties, funded by whomever was the beneficiary of the misdeed.
Going forward, SMF leadership has indicated they have put strict safeguards in place to ensure this doesn't happen again. Their actions will speak louder than their words. While this incident may be difficult for many of us to forget, it is time to forgive.
To the Editor:
We are relieved that Adam Moore is now director of the Sheriff Meadows properties. Reading his comments in The Martha Vineyard Times, we are confident that the abuse of the past "handshake" arrangements will be corrected. His educational background and prior familiarity with the Island culture, as well as the new protocol he introduced, presages a fertile restoration of the original intent of the foundation. Welcome back to Martha's Vineyard, Mr. Moore. After visiting for 25 years, we have finally moved here in time to appreciate a fresh start in protecting the natural beauty.
Garry and Donna Meyers
Problem solving proposal
To the Editor:
For the past three months, a development proposal known as Bradley Square, on the corner of Masonic and Dukes County Avenues and adjacent to what is known as the arts district in Oak Bluffs, has been before the Martha's Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact. The proposal, submitted as part of a joint venture between the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund, is characterized by a combination of incredible goals: affordable housing, historic preservation, and support for local artisans.
Prior to its submission to the Martha's Vineyard Commission, the program defining the Bradley Square project had been the subject of six months of thoughtful work developed by the Bradley Square design committee, a group of individuals representing a cross section of interested parties, neighbors and planning professionals.
As an involved observer to the planning process and now the review process, I have been energized by the development concept, as well as astonished by its apparent opposition.
In conversations with friends I find on the other side of the fence, I have offered what seems so clear to me: 1.) the developer is the housing trust in conjunction with the housing fund. These two organizations have a positive track record in making Martha's Vineyard a better place; 2.) This proposal has been part of an Island-wide collaborative effort that has included Habitat for Humanity, the NAACP, the Oak Bluffs Historic Commission, and the Martha's Vineyard Museum; 3.) The Bradley Memorial Church, a significant piece of Martha's Vineyard's cultural history, will be preserved and avoid inevitable demolition; 4.) The integration of affordable housing and four live/work artisan studios are prime examples of smart and sustainable growth in developing a year round community and economy; 5.) The re-vitalization of a neighborhood that has lost much of its character over the last 40 years.
Although most of the opposition seems to agree with the conceptual benefits of the Bradley Square proposal, I have been reminded of the project's problems, as critics see them: 1.) Building scale - the two newly proposed buildings planned for the property are too big for the neighborhood; 2.) Parking - the neighborhood lacks parking during the summer art strolls (three-hour gatherings, sponsored by the art district, when artists open their studio spaces and display their work). Therefore, an increased art district, along with additional housing will undoubtedly increase the parking problem.
Although I respect the opposition's point of view, I believe a temporary lack of parking, which is consistent with summer events across the Island, is more of an inconvenience than a problem. I would also suggest the architectural merits of this project, including building scale, should be more part of a subjective debate, rather than mislabeled as something much worse.
Documented Island problems include a lack of affordable housing, demolition of historic and aged Island buildings and a dwindling year-round Island economy, due to the departure of certain small business types. In order to maintain a healthy and sustainable Island-wide environment, these problems need our attention.
With Bradley Square, the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund have proposed a creative and visionary model for similar opportunities in the future. The project's capacity to problem-solve far outweighs its potential for random inconvenience. Yet the proposal, as well as its authors, have been chastised by some of the opposition for not being thoughtful enough. I invite anyone who questions the integrity of these two organizations to visit their websites or speak with those whom they have helped.
Bradley Square deserves our support. We should applaud those who have offered it to us. Otherwise, we can consider ourselves part of a bigger problem.
Benefits outweigh detriments for Bradley Square
To the Editor:
The following letter was sent to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
I attended the May 22 public hearing regarding the Bradley Square project. It was quite apparent that the larger objections raised were to the density of the project and the parking problem that it was perceived it would cause.
The parking problem is not a problem of where to park, but a problem of access, and excess use of cars in areas never designed for their current volume - directly due to population growth (and our exuberance for riding everywhere).
Since we cannot reduce our population dramatically, we either have to face the reality of more cars, or change the way in which we manage their use. If we really want to solve the "parking problem," we should ban casual use of cars in dense areas altogether. (I would exempt those driving to their home and commercial delivery in the area, which could also be limited by time of day.) Parking cars on the periphery of congested areas and providing effective shuttle or trolley service, encouraging walking by promoting such mixed-use projects as Bradley Square, and making it easier to use bicycles all would provide enormous benefit while reducing (or eliminating) the "parking problem." Such a solution is the purview of the town, not a private developer.
In any case, parking is not and should not be the only or even primary focus of the Martha's Vineyard Commission's deliberations regarding Bradley Square; you hopefully are looking at the overall benefits: affordable housing, historic preservation, neighborhood revitalization, business development - not to mention the addition to the town's tax base (not so unimportant today in O.B.). There certainly is no such thing as the perfect project. But reaching a fair compromise must involve weighing overall benefit against real detriment, and eliminating erroneous perceived detriments from the consideration altogether.
As to density - it appears to me this is less dense than the seven-unit project approved by the commission last year (DRI 601) on Summer Street in Edgartown - another example of smart growth planning of a mixed-use project in a business district. That project comprises just over 6,000 square feet of habitable space in seven units on 0.2 acres. Bradley Square as proposed is less than 11,000 square feet of habitable space in 11 units on 0.44 acres. That's 30,000 square feet per acre on Summer Street vs. fewer than 25,000 at Bradley Square.
Whether we like it or not, population density is increasing and must be addressed. You cannot solve that or the parking problem by rejecting or severely conditioning a project that in other ways has so many benefits - to the neighborhood, the town, and ultimately the entire Island. The population grows, and the cars will just keep coming.
Island Home spawn in the Northwest
To the Editor:
Greetings from Seattle. I have great news to share to your readers there at the Vineyard. We are getting replicas of the MV Island Home for a crossing that calls for her specifications. There will be two of these built and both will be used on a Puget Sound crossing that calls for particular specifications and features.
In November of 2007, Washington State Ferries was forced to retire a fleet of 80-year-old ferries due to deteriorating hulls. With their sudden withdrawal, this run is currently served by a smaller 50-car ferry borrowed from a county ferry line. This run often sees storms that require the occasional suspension of service.
Washington State Ferries went searching for replacements and found the design of your MV Island Home to their liking. Her design is well suited for the rough conditions of the Keystone run. WSF sent a group of ferry officers to your area to "test-drive" the Island Home and came back satisfied at her performance.
We anticipate seeing the MV Island Home's new sisters in service here in 2010.
As a ferry rider here on Puget Sound, I would like to thank your SSA for building a prototype ferry that is well designed and is inspiring our ferry system build replicas for our services here. The name Island Home has now become a household name here on Puget Sound. An Island Home in your area, and Island Homes in our area. How fascinating. Bravo zulu, SSA.
It's the American Legion
To the Editor:
Thank you for your continued coverage and support of our men and women serving our country. However, it needs to be cleared up once and for all that Vineyard Haven's American Legion Post #257 is the one that organizes the "Welcome Homecomings" for our soldiers, funerals, Memorial Day parades, and they also began the absolutely beautiful and honorable "Avenue of Flags" in Vineyard Haven.
These volunteer men and women give up their lunch hours, switch days off from their jobs, and attend these events, rain, shine or in freezing weather to honor their fallen comrades.
Please give the credit where the proper credit is due.
Thank you very much.
Seasoned leadership needed
To the Editor:
As this remarkable primary season winds down, I read with interest Ken Lay's letter imploring voters to go with Barack Obama for president. I appreciate Mr. Lay's idealistic thoughts, and we all need to celebrate the high level of interest in electoral politics that this race has engendered. At the risk of being a bit politically incorrect here on Obama's Vineyard, I have to take issue with the core reason he cited. While both Barack and Hillary Clinton have run energizing and spirited campaigns (especially Hillary's uphill climb against pundits and front-loaded caucus results), I think each candidate will be the first to tell you, race and gender are not the crucial criteria in selecting who gets to run the nation. Yes, it's a breakthrough year that a woman and a person of color are the two finalists for a nomination to the White House, but these times call for tenacious, experienced leadership, not idealistic experimentation.
Mrs. Clinton clearly has the edge on experience, and her tenacious campaign has continued to confound her many embedded naysayers across the American media landscape. Mr. Obama can sure deliver an evenly intoned, audience-wowing litany of hope, and it's a beautiful thing to have that skill, but really, come the morning after election, I need to awaken to sure-footed leadership to look forward to, come 1-20-09. Hillary, champion herself of civil rights, a pioneer advocate of universal health care, and a real friend of the Vineyard (which has been conveniently forgotten by many here) is the one.
Obama, the fresh choice
To the Editor:
I find it amusing that some Americans are complaining about the costs of gas at the pump and food at the grocery store, as if this unforeseen reality simply hijacked us by surprise. This inevitable reality has manifested itself while our country has been busy waging war in Iraq, giving useless and unwanted foreign advice to other sovereign nations, neglecting the needs of the poor and the downtrodden here in the U.S. and abroad, and of course the biggie, choosing to ignore the desperate need to fund national projects to explore and harness other types of energy sources that might have reduced, if not completely diminished, our addiction to petroleum based fuels.
Our situation today results from our chosen inaction yesterday. And although many people would like to use President Bush and his administration as the primary scapegoats for these events, they are not the true culprits. Indeed, Mr. Bush and his cronies did drive the Greyhound bus out of the parking lot and Mapquest a route to their liking, but we - the American people, paying consumers - never seemed to care that this route was full of potholes, was seriously ill Mapquested, and has taken way too long. Like simple sheep, we put on our seatbelts and sang "national patriotic" songs in the bus.
Now after two terms in office, eight years later, and having not arrived at our final destination, Mr. Bush and his administration vehemently pledge to stay the course. We get cranky. We complain and moan. Our money is running out and so is our patience. Many, if not all of us, want to get off this damn bus, endure a very uncomfortable lay-over, and catch another bus in hopes of making it to our final destination.
Sadly, here lies the fundamental problem. We cannot get off this damn bus. We might have been able to stop the bus had we pursued a course of action called presidential impeachment hearings. Of course, I imagine that pursuing presidential impeachment might be a bit more challenging since it has yet to be determined that Mr. Bush engaged in inappropriate sexual activity in the Oval Office. Nevertheless, we chose to watch as Mr. Bush and his cronies ignored the U.S. Constitution and the American people and instead explored and harnessed questionable methods of giving the office of the Presidency unimaginable powers foreign to a pure democracy. Our one and only certitude, however, is that Mr. Bush has been unable to create a way, like Hugo Chávez, to remain in office for more than two terms.
Indeed the time has come for change. A radical change from the status quo. And only one presidential candidate represents a break from the old paradigm of politicking.
Clinton's and McCain's experience taints their objectivity, has crystallized their antiquated and narrow-minded notions of how to be a politician, and their experience simply translates into more baggage that our nation and the American people will have to deal with. Furthermore, if the American people choose to elect another George W. Bush in the form of John McCain, then our legacy to our children will simply be that yes we had a problem, we denied it, and therefore we never enrolled in a rehabilitation program.
Barack Obama is a candidate who truly represents something freshly unique and who has the potential, if supported by the American people, to rebuild, refortify, rehabilitate, and repair all the damage done by corrupt "experienced" politicians. Can we afford to bypass yet another opportunity to Mapquest a new route for our nation? If we deny an honest, radical break from the status quo, trust me, the cost of gas and food will be the least of our concerns.
To the Editor:
We found Buddy, our small white poodle, Tuesday evening in Dodger's Hole, Edgartown. He had been missing for eight days. We want to say thank you to everyone who has helped in the search. During the search, we met many friendly people who assisted in finding Buddy. We could not have found him without the involvement of everyone. It is certainly times like this that remind us of how special this close-knit community is. With sincere thanks and appreciation,
To the Editor:
How exciting it was to see more than 200 friends, families and neighbors turn out for the barbecue last Saturday to celebrate the ground clearing for the new YMCA. We are thrilled with the possibility of breaking ground this fall and could not do it without the support of our great Island community. Thank you to all who attended, to all who helped and a special thanks to Mother Nature for holding back the rain.
Director Capital Campaign
YMCA of Martha's Vineyard
Kaleidoscope of talent
To the Editor:
On Memorial Day weekend, the annual Friends of Family Planning Art Show at the new Agricultural Hall provided the public with a kaleidoscope of talent, this year adding 35 emerging artists to the 100 well-known regulars who return every year.
We are forever grateful to the positive energy of the artists who entrust their work to our display and to the patrons who come year after year to support our agency. Those of us involved in this fundraiser for two decades cheer on the new energy and feel confident we will be on the Vineyard calendar for the next decade.
The Friends of Family Planning