Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
The Tisbury selectmen would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown Fire Departments for all their efforts in fighting the Main Street, Vineyard Haven fire of July 4. This was an extremely difficult fire to fight, in conditions that were less than ideal. The firefighters fought valiantly to save the buildings as well as the property inside them.
The teamwork displayed at the scene on that fateful morning is a testament to each firefighter's dedication to the profession and willingness to risk their own well-being for the benefit of community. We are extremely grateful to have a group of Island fire departments willing to assist each other in these times of need. We are confident that this level of cooperation will continue far into the future.
Thank you all again to all who participated in this somber event, the selectmen and the residents of Tisbury are extremely grateful for your service.
To the Editor:
I will always hold the summer of 1998 close to my heart. In June of that year several close friends, and I followed thousands of other Irish university students leaving Ireland for the United States on a J1 Visa, for what we hoped would be a memorable three months of work and play. My pals and I will always count ourselves lucky in having chosen Martha's Vineyard as our destination, and the memories and friends we made in that time continue to influence our lives to this day.
I was perhaps luckier than most who boarded the ferry from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven on that summer evening, in that I had already secured a job at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. As many of your readers will no doubt attest, the Bunch of Grapes was a haven from the seasonal bustle of tourists on Main Street, a place of tranquility where you could lose yourself for hours amongst the shelves. It was such a great pleasure to have been given the opportunity to work there by a lady whom I came to respect and admire so very much, the indefatigable Ann Nelson. She was more than a boss to me; she also became a friend, whose passion for the Vineyard was infectious and who presided over employee and customer alike with such charm and good humor. From my first day of manning the till, stacking shelves and laboring to gift wrap, she made me feel at home. All those who worked there, including Jane and Ann Bassett, put me at my ease and were quick to show me the hidden secrets and scenes of your beautiful Island home. It may have been work, but not work as I knew it before and indeed since; we catered to the requirements of Islanders and tourists, those who held accounts and those who didn't and a president's court ensconced in splendid isolation up-Island.
Since I left Martha's Vineyard, I regularly keep abreast of its news and developments through your website, always hoping for a mention of Ann Nelson and the Bunch of Grapes. Today, I got my wish, but not in the way I had hoped. I was devastated to read of the fire which destroyed Café Moxie (at which one of my friends on that fateful summer had worked) and so badly damaged the bookstore. My heart goes out to Ann and her family and all those who work at the store for the damage sustained. I hope that all will now rally round, as they did on that Independence Day morning, and see the Bunch of Grapes restored as a shining beacon of culture and commerce.
Protections from sex offenders needed for parks, beaches
To the Editor:
As I read the article by Janet Hefler ("DPW rejects sex offender reg discussion", MVTimes, July 3) my blood boiled, I was mortified and horrified. One of the things I love about the Island is the sense of community, that neighbor is always willing to reach out to help neighbor. The sense of community runs the gamut from adults to adolescents - as was voiced in graduation speeches on June 8.
Kudos to Jeffrey Kristal for bringing this up to the Department of Public Works. I would like to someday shake your hand for having the forethought and courage to bring this up in a public forum. Our parks should be a safe place for our children to socialize and play. Shame on Tristan Israel for refusing to explore this opportunity to help keep our children safe.
One of the great things about living on the Island is the feeling of safety we have. Violent crimes rarely touch our everyday lives, but on occasion they do seep in.
We have several level two and three sex offenders that reside on the Island. But of equal importance is this question: How many come here on vacation or for a day trip during the summer? They do not have to notify law enforcement that they are here unless they move here.
With so many households counting on two incomes, and parents left with little time to run errands, this is something that makes total sense. Kids hate to be dragged along to run errands, so lots of parents drop them off at the parks or library. Have we learned nothing from the incident that happened in the New Bedford library?
Mr. Israel said, "I don't want to become hysterical about this - I want to do this in a rational way, not where we're going to have a big circle around the town. I don't think we should zone them out of the community." Mr. Kristal did not suggest keeping them off our beaches or from walking down Main Street. He in no way suggested "zoning them out of the community." He merely suggested extending the distance that level two and three sex offenders can be near our parks and schools. Is trying to protect our children such a bad thing? To me and several other parents I have spoken with about this issue, it is not.
Mr. Israel also suggested that this was not a Department of Public Works issue. Is not the word public right in the title of your department? I would say that makes this an issue that you should want to address. After all how are you going to feel if something happens in one of your parks, and the article in the paper comes out? You know the one I am writing about now, where you clearly refused to address the issue and help keep people safe.
As is well known, during the summer we have to hire extra police to help with the influx of people who visit our lovely Island. Why not give them an extra tool when dealing with sex offenders? Again this does not "zone them out of the community," it helps protect our children from a crime that they would deal with for the rest of their lives.
I hope that a crime like this never touches someone that you love and care for. The pain, suffering, and injustice of such a crime is something you and they will deal with forever.
I believe in our legal system, for all its faults. Perpetrators of sex crimes sometimes serve jail time, then get out and do probation - that's it for them. Yes, they do have to register as a sex offender, but unless people do research they don't have any idea that they live next door to a registered offender and therefore are less able to protect their children or themselves. For the person who has endured such atrocities, it is always there, always an issue they must deal with. I admit this injustice for the victim really irks me.
I am of the opinion that the boundaries around our schools and parks should be extended. I believe this would give our children more of a fighting chance in avoiding such a crime and it also gives the police and our district attorney one more tool to work with.
As a community, how do we not step up and protect our children in every way the law will allow us?
Waiting for Julian
To the Editor:
Thursday is a big day for me, waiting with bated breath to see what Julian has come up with, rhymes and photos in this week's Times. So, thank you friend and keep doing it. You make me smile with your camera and wit.
The real deal on sharks
To the Editor:
I sent the following to the Associated Press today.
I just read your release published on Comcast.net about the man charged with lying about spotting great white sharks on Martha's Vineyard.
Here is a true story about a real sighting from last week, prior to the false report.
I am a Martha's Vineyard resident of 50 years. I held a U.S.C.G. captain's license for 20 years, taking people out on fishing charters all around the Vineyard.
One of my close friends who also is a long-time Vineyard captain was fishing in tandem with a well-known and respected charter captain (not the lying captain in your news release) off the west end of the Island last week, well before the false sighting report that closed beaches temporarily. This credible charter captain observed a great white shark with an estimated length of 17 feet swimming on the surface next to his trolling vessel for a few minutes.
In addition, I, and others in my party, observed a large seal swimming just outside the shore-break of Katama South Beach (Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard) during the week prior to the false great white shark report.
Seals have been practically unknown on the Vineyard during my life, but they recently have colonized sand bar islands near Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Believe me, where there are seals, there are great white sharks. In addition, there is a well-documented case of an 11-foot juvenile great white shark being trapped in a nearby Elizabeth Islands saltwater pond two or three years ago (see Martha's Vineyard Gazette and Martha's Vineyard Times newspaper archives). Besides, has anyone ever heard of the Martha's Vineyard-based Oak Bluffs Monster Shark tournament held every July (next weekend)? If not, check out the recurring documentary on ESPN television.
The comments attributed to the police in your story are misleading and eerily reminiscent of the Town Council President's denial of a "shark problem" in the movie JAWS (I remember very well the summer of 1974 when the film crew was here). You commit serious errors of omission by failing to mention great white sharks have always been in Vineyard waters and their numbers and proximity to shore have increased as the seal population has increased. I suggest a follow-up article to provide balance and perspective. Alternatively, you are welcome to publish this email in its entirety, including my name (but not my email address) if you wish.
In my opinion, swimming at the following Martha's Vineyard beaches currently is higher risk for great white shark attack than in the past: East Beach (Chappaquiddick Island facing Nantucket), South Beach (facing the Atlantic Ocean) and Gay Head Beach (facing the Elizabeth Islands). The Joseph A. Silvia Beach that was one of the locations closed in response to the false great white shark report is a less likely habitat for great white sharks. Ironically, this beach was the shooting location for most of the movie JAWS.
While I acknowledge statistics say shark attacks are extremely rare, I, for one, am choosing to eschew the random comfort of probability theory in favor of avoiding the catastrophic result of being on the wrong end of the odds and not swimming at the aforementioned beaches for the duration of this summer.
If you wish to verify the actual great white shark report I have related, with the firsthand witnesses, please write me back, and I will see if they are willing to go on the record.
Stanley B. Arend 3rd
U.S.C.G licensed Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (retired)
Beach stickers for sharks
To the Editor:
The following was emailed to me by someone who vacations elsewhere now:
Lissa, I can't imagine that there was actually a shark at a Vineyard beach. First of all, how would he or she even get a beach sticker or a walk-on pass? Gordon.
The shark that started it all
To the Editor:
The Vineyard shark scare has been televised on national TV networks, complete with shots of the idyllic beaches. Does the Island really need this type of publicity again, whether it is bad or good? In my opinion, the over-popularity (and over-development) of the Vineyard was kick-started by two events: Ted Kennedy's accident on Chappaquiddick in 1969 and the filming of "Jaws" in the 1970s.
Carry in and out
To the Editor:
Some people may he wondering why there are no trash barrels on the Joseph Sylvia State Beach. The answer lies in the "Carry In/Carry Out" posters by students in the Edgartown and Oak Bluffs Schools that are prominently displayed along pathways to the beach.
Based an the national park concept of "leave only footprints and take only pictures," the friends of Sengekontacket-sponsored program is now in its 13th year. Each year 44 posters are selected from over 200 entries. Students of winning posters receive an award from the Friends of Sengekontacket at the end of the school year. Posters are displayed on Steamship Authority vessels serving the Vineyard as well as on stanchions on the beach. The posters illustrate why it is important for beachgoers to take their refuse off the beach with them and dispose of it properly.
Windblown litter is an eyesore, and trash barrels attract stinging insects and rodents. State Beach is habitat for rare and legally protected species of shorebirds such as piping plovers and terns. Populations of animals such as skunks, raccoons, rats, and gulls are attracted to the beach by the odor and presence of food, and their numbers increase. They then prey on the eggs and chicks of endangered shorebirds.
Food packaging can also endanger animals that live along the coast. Pieces of Styrofoam from coolers and plastic bags drifting seaward can be mistaken for jellyfish and ingested by tea turtles and other marine mammals who then die from intestinal blockage.
If each of us leaves the beach as clean and beautiful as when we arrived, we will have heeded the important message of our young Island environmental educators. Carry In / Carry Out.
Friends of Sengekontacket
It's not 'navel gazing'
To the Editor:
Having read Nis Kildegaard's July 10 op-ed ("What we really want") response to the Jim Athearn/Mark London progress report to the community on the Island Plan, I confess that I cannot decide whether he is really serious or just kidding or simply trying to be a wise guy about the current planning effort. I have finally decided that his comments, of whichever stripe, deserve serious answers.
I'm not sure where he got the "growing sense" that the key to the Island's future does not lie in the issue of growth and development but can rather be found in other issues on which the Island Plan has task forces at work. Of course, development and growth is the overarching issue facing all of us, as we look to the future, but one cannot easily come to conclusions and develop plans on that issue without appropriately focusing on housing, water resources, livelihood and commerce, energy and waste, natural environment, built environment, transportation and social environment, each of which has or has had task forces at work. It must be obvious to someone as knowledgeable and perceptive as Mr. Kildegaard that all of these, and development and growth, are interrelated and are interdependent to a large degree. Almost everything we may talk about on any of these subjects impacts something in many of the other subjects.
So the Island Plan steering committee decided that we should wait to look at the development and growth issue until after we had developed some goals and strategies in the areas of the other issues. We think it has been a better way of studying the present, in order to prepare plans for the future. There have been too many discussions, including editorials, about development and growth over the past two or three decades, which did not generate many, if any, constructive plans or actions.
I do understand what he means when he refers to what we used to call the "I've got mine - let's keep everyone else out" syndrome. But I would be interested in what strategies he might recommend to deal with that issue realistically. As a matter of fact, I hope he considers this a personal invitation to participate in the Island Plan development and growth forum on August 27, at the Ag Hall.
Finally, I suppose that all long-range planning by a community about its own future can be considered an "exercise in navel-gazing," but I tend to resent the negativity of that phrase. We have a better chance of success with our activity than we would have if a planning consultant had been asked to pull something off the shelf and redesign it for Martha's Vineyard. We fully expect to end up with a reasonable list of goals and strategies developed for the Island, by Island residents and property owners. Those who prefer a corporate approach may not like our approach, but for a community like this Island, it's the only way to go.
Member Island Plan
Steering Committee Appointee
Martha's Vineyard Commission
Bury the power lines
To the Editor:
We were all stunned by the ferocity of the fire on Main Street on July 4. We read how the ladder trucks couldn't really fight the fire until NSTAR shut down power in the overhead power lines. How much time was wasted by this necessity?
It's now time for citizens of Vineyard Haven to complete what they started: put the power lines underground. Now, it's not just for aesthetics; it's for the safety of our town. We have awakened to the fact that our picturesque old town is also a tinderbox. If we want to preserve the beauty of our antiquity, we need to protect it the best way we can, and the best way is to get the power lines out of the way so that, next time we have a fire on Main Street, the trucks can go to work right away.
The conduit for the power lines is waiting, right under Main Street, for the power lines to be threaded through. Let's vote on this at our next town meeting: for a more beautiful Main Street, and a safer one.
Get on board
To the Editor:
Summertime is now officially in full swing, and so are the complaints from us year-round residents. "There is too much traffic," "gas is too expensive," "there is no place to park," "it takes forever to get anywhere," to name a few of the most popular complaints. Guess what? There is a wonderful solution for our lament: Take the bus.
The VTA is an incredible resource for all of us, not just the tourists. The buses run all day, every day, and all over the Island. A year-round pass is $100. It costs me about that for one tank of gas!
I work for the Boathouse Club in Edgartown, and they have offered employees bus passes as part of their compensation. Brilliant. If companies and individuals collectively act with forward thinking and planning for a better environment and fatter wallets, we would all be a lot happier.
Riding the bus ensures being on time, getting there safely if you decide to have some cocktails, cheap travel, meeting nice people, and some time to yourself without getting frustrated with summer traffic. There doesn't have to be this much traffic, and nobody is holding a gun to our head and telling us that we have to pay $5 a gallon for gas.
Driving a car should be a privilege, not a convenience, and the bus is convenient. Of course we all must drive at times, but a little conservation goes a long way. Thank you to the VTA for providing this incredible and solid service, and I hope to see more Islanders on the bus.
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Service Unit of The Salvation Army is requesting assistance to obtain an emergency response trailer for the purpose of storing and transporting emergency disaster supplies on the Island.
At present, we have a small inventory of equipment and supplies designated for local response to major incidents. These may include house fires, brush or forest fires, storms or mass casualty incidents. The Island will be better served if these items are kept in such a trailer for a more rapid response in times of emergency. The Martha's Vineyard Service Unit works in cooperation with Island-wide emergency management directors and disaster response agencies to coordinate, train for, and facilitate such a response, should it be required.
If you wish to participate in making this trailer become a reality for Martha's Vineyard, please contact me for more information at 508-889-4935 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, "Need knows no season."
Capt. Richard S. Reinhardsen
Martha's Vineyard Service Unit
The Salvation Army
Don't miss it
To the Editor:
If you are looking for an interesting book to take to the beach this summer, don't miss the July 15 release from Doubleday by Jane Mayer, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals." In it you will read about a Red Cross report given to the C.I.A. last year, about methods used on Abu Zubaydah, one of the first significant members of Al-Qaeda seized by the U.S, which were categorically torture, illegal under American and international law, and Bush and his administration officials who approved of these methods could be found guilty of war crimes.
I am pleased to also pass on this update, that on July 10, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now being of sound mind and body, said of Dennis Kucinich's Article of Impeachment against President Bush "This is a Judiciary Committee matter and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee, not necessarily taking up the Articles of Impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject. My expectation is that there will be some review on that in the committee."
I for one feel that any movement on this matter is important, and if discussion is all we can hope for at this time, I will take it.
To the Editor:
I was fortunate to witness (as far as I am concerned) a once in a lifetime occurrence today, July 11. For the past three days I have been watching a pregnant doe pace the property I live on. In and out of the woods, to the pond and all around. She was very heavy with her offspring. I assumed she was in labor, as she looked weary and about to burst at the seams. I could remember an occasion similar to this. Anyway, today I was looking out the window of the home I am employed at, and she comes through the woods with her fawn. I get excited and inform my employer. We are all fond of nature's wonders. I turn back to look and there is another fawn, and no sooner do I look again and there is a third. Triplets.
The feeling of joy and wonder was overwhelming. What a blessing for us to see. They skipped and frolicked yet stayed close to mother. It was beautiful, and off they sauntered into the woods. I will keep a watchful eye and pray that mother has enough to foster their growth and that they will be safe. Who knows, maybe I will see them again. A once in a lifetime occurrence.
Just a push, thank you
To the Editor:
To my two rescuers, thank you.
I was in the Fourth of July parade with my husband Danny, our dachshund Vera and my dad Tony.
My bike is a Yamaha Virago, with sidecar. It is air-cooled. After talking to my son-in-law, Dwight, I decided to ride in the parade. We didn't think a fan on the motor was needed.
Well, now we know. As I reached the corner by Edgartown National Bank, it stalled for the third time and would not restart. It totally overheated. I got off and pushed while my dad announced to everyone that we were conserving gas.
Many offers to help issued. I assured everyone I was fine. The bike is light. After all, I'm not that old. (Imagine them thinking I couldn't push my own bike.)
Yeah, right. Breathing like a fire bellows, I reached the crest of the hill and gave in. Two young men pushed, allowing me to sit, recover my breath, and realize I'm not as young as my head thinks.
Thank you to everyone who offered their help to this stubborn, still young at heart, not happy at approaching the "golden years" Motorcycle Mama.
Cheryl A. Metell
Relight the clock
To the Editor:
In light of the devastating fire on Tisbury's Main Street, I think it would be a great civic gesture if NStar would find a live circuit that could be used for a temporary feed to the Bunch of Grapes clock. This would provide an instant symbol of renewal, both for the town and for the owners that have lost so much.
Robert D. Woerpel
Thanks, but ...
To the Editor:
We would like to thank the crew of the Tri-Town Ambulance in Chilmark who came to my rescue on June 20, promptly, efficiently and with care, transporting me to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
Also to the entire ER nursing staff on June 20 as well as the staff on June 23. On June 23, Dr. Sean Kelly's prompt decision making to airlift me to Falmouth for immediate surgery, ambulanced later to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston for further surgery.
Now to address the hospital management. We have an aging permanent population on this Island. In this case, a pacemaker device machine was not available here. Not only the elderly but others of all ages wear pacemakers. Proper equipment could have eliminated the expense and trauma of airlifting.
It is necessary to appropriate funds for the diagnostic tools prior to any building of four walls. This is about saving lives, not as a showcase building.
Richard Frank Potter
Strength of character
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter because I want the community to know of the strength in character of Katrina Yekel and Austin Racine, owners of the Café Moxie. I had been working at Café Moxie for less than a week before it burnt down. Actually, I had only worked two shifts. And so, after the catastrophe I had decided that I shouldn't count on the tip money that was owed to me. In my opinion there were matters far more pressing.
Last Wednesday, I opened my post office box to find a handwritten envelope from Katrina. Inside, along with my paycheck, was a note. The note said among other kind things, "Hopefully, good will come out of all this sadness, and Moxie will be rebuilt bigger and better."
That's the kind of graciousness that can break a heart right there at the post office. Given the situation, it is admirable enough to track down my address and send a paycheck. But to take the time to write a kind and encouraging note is truly exceptional.
If anyone deserves a chance to succeed, it is Austin and Katrina. They are talented, hard-working individuals with big hearts and lots of moxie. I am sure I join the ranks of thousands in sending them my best wishes for their future success.
To the Editor:
Dan Larkosh of West Tisbury is running for state representative for the Cape and Islands. I have just one simple question for him. Do you support the town of West Tisbury's policy that denies public access to a public park, Lambert's Cove Beach?