Letters to the Editor
Easy paths to bike safety
To the Editor:
This past weekend I was involved in a broadside bike collision outside Boston. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured, but the crash did drive home the potential for such accidents on multiple use paths.
During the somewhat depressing trip back with my newly mangled bike, my riding companion pointed out Nis Kildegaard's recent piece in the August 21 edition of the Times. The piece concerned generally the safety of our bike paths and roads for cyclists and more specifically, the need to have center lines painted to distinguish lanes on the paths. In a subsequent phone conversation, Mr. Kildegaard informed me that currently, a short stretch along airport road is the only section where people are afforded this basic safety precaution. This is an inexpensive, visually unobtrusive improvement that I feel is vital to provide the safest possible pathways for walkers, roller-bladers, and cyclists alike.
Further, I feel the line painting and other minor maintenance of our Island's multiple use paths could be effectively carried out by a volunteer user group. After proving to all concerned authorities that we were capable of completing the work in a competent and cost-effective manner I feel confident that the lines could all be painted before next summer season returns with its great uptick in pathway traffic. I've established an email account in hopes that some of you may be interested in gathering to discuss the center lines and the potential for a user group that can speak to our town, county, and state authorities with one voice. If you are interested please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak up now
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Commission has another controversial issue to address. Editorials and emails to the papers for and against are covering just about every possible angle of the Field Club land vs. cash affordable housing swap. From uninformed editorials to a very informed public, the opinions are certainly out there. Opportunities exist to make changes to the way decisions are made and the commission is asking for input by holding a public hearing on August 28. Anyone with an opinion on this should at least take the time to send in a letter or even an email; don't be content with an email to the paper.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission is comprised of members who are thoughtful and careful decision makers who often seek input to help make their decision. A few may not be as well prepared as others to take on these huge and diverse responsibilities and need more support. It is essential that decisions are made with the full understanding of both the basis for past rulings and the impact on commission policies. It is essential that impartial, unbiased input be obtained. The commission has capable staff and could surely retain outside independent experts if necessary. They have the challenge of assuring that decisions are in the best interests of the entire Island, not just one town or any particular special interest.
At the risk of again being assailed as being against affordable housing, I want to say that I think the issues here can have a critical impact on Island planning efforts for years to come. It would be a shame to pursue an option which might yield fewer affordable housing units.
There are questions that only adequately prepared decision makers can answer, removed of politics and emotion. Does the affordable housing policy of the Martha's Vineyard Commission need to be changed? Should developers be allowed to opt out of conditions imposed by previous decisions, even when significant changes have occurred (in this case, a subdivision which added a high-end health club facility, then became sewered)? How should the value of changes be assessed for the purpose of considering a cash buy-out?
Another question that has been asked is why anyone would want to live in this project. Well designed, affordable housing projects routinely include housing at all market levels. For the affordable units, this project could conceivably include a townhouse type unit housing two to three families on each lot (five bedrooms per lot) styled in a manner compatible with the market rate units. Maybe the opposite is true and it's the potential high-end clients who don't want to live amongst affordable homes, and the developers will be concerned that the affordable housing units would sell out before the market-based units? Estimates of what the cash buy-out could accomplish vary significantly, and the final outcome should consider how many Vineyard families will ultimately be given the chance to own a home.
This will not be the last development project on Martha's Vineyard subject to Martha's Vineyard Commission review. MVC decisions will continue to have a critical impact, so speak up now and give them your opinion.
Refocus the energy
To the Editor:
More than 25 years ago, my neighbors Tom and Ginny Payette planted a few willow trees to stabilize their stretch of waterfront on Lake Tashmoo. Now, half a mile away, Patricia Carlet wants a better view of Lake Tashmoo from the overlook on State Road. Selectman Tristan Israel said, "I can't think of anything more important to the public as a view shed," and that the town should take legal action to compel the Payettes to cut down the trees. This is wrong.
First, there are a few issues more pressing than Ms. Carlet's view. Mr. Israel's "view shed" is a new and amusing term, but surely, there are other issues more compelling to the public, like clean water, fire protection, public safety, sewage and trash management, management of development, conservation, schools, roads and sidewalks - hang on, we'll get to view sheds eventually.
Second, someone else's wish for a better view should not outweigh a landowner's right to protect his private property. If it did, where would it stop? If neighbors or tourists don't like the look of Ms. Carlet's property, should the town compel her to change it?
Third, many waterfront properties are threatened by erosion. Trees and shrubs help knit the soil and sand, protecting the landowner's investment. In fact, in many parts of the Island, conservation restrictions limit tree cutting, and for some people the idea of cutting trees just to improve the view is offensive.
Finally, as you stand in the overlook, these few willow trees affect a small portion on the lower left. The lake still stretches a mile to the north, and the view continues to Falmouth and beyond. Ms. Carlet is lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
Let's focus our energy and tax dollars where there really is, as Mr. Israel said, "greater public good."
Jonathan V. Snyder
Rain, no matter
To the Editor:
Even though the heavens opened up and poured soaking rain, complete with thunder and lightning, Hospice angels were plentiful on August 18 at Farm Neck. I would like to say thank you to every guest, volunteer, and to all the businesses and artists that made the evening such a wonderful success. It truly takes a community to give the excellent care of Hospice, and those who were with us under the tent know the very special connection to our work we all made that stormy night.
Forgive me for not naming all the generous friends who make our Soirée a magnificent accomplishment. Rather than creating that very long list, I would like for you readers to please read the Essay from Julie Hursey in the Editorial pages this morning. Julie spoke these words at our Soirée, and her expressions capture the essence of our work as well as the difference we make to a family struggling and living with terminal illness.
Thank you all for the wonderful, generous evening. A special wink to the angel who gifted the picture to the right owner and thanked a Hospice nurse in the most delightful way.
Terre D. Young
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard
Think about it
To the Editor:
This letter is about Nelson Sigelman's recent article in The Martha's Vineyard Times' Gone Fishin' column, "Commercial bass season numbers lag" (Aug. 14, 2008).
The divergence between the February ASMFC finding that "striped bass stocks along the Atlantic coast are healthy and growing" and the widespread reports from up and down the Atlantic coast this season of very poor striped bass fishing from both recreational and commercial anglers suggests a disconnect between this fishery's managers and the real state of the striped bass fishery. The claim that fishing is slow because these fish are offshore or elsewhere is simply insufficient to explain the widespread gloomy reports.
A more likely explanation is that this fishery is in trouble again. Perhaps the often-noted complacency of fisheries managers on this subject is an important part of the story. Is it not a necessary condition for an impending collapse that fisheries managers seem to be in denial about reports of poor fishing results? After all, no one wants to admit to a growing problem they have failed to correct, within their realm of responsibility, especially if it's their job to do so! It's much better to paint a rosy picture and play on the many uncertainties of the assessment process than to face an unpleasant truth.
Last year the commercial season was extended due to poor fishing, instead of seeing the poor results as justification for taking precautions by ending the season early. Now we see the same logic at work.Commercial fishing for striped bass should end, by declaring this species a game fish, just as was done many decades ago for waterfowl, trout, deer and other formerly market-hunted species. The recreational fishery also ought to be managed to encourage catch-and-release by requiring single barbless hooks and circle hooks for bait: these stripers inhale their prey and a barbed treble hook way down in their gills or throat cannot be extracted without severe (and usually fatal) damage!
The general issue is simple: should we manage this species for conservation or maximum exploitation? Species managed for recreational purposes are conserved and protected, where regulations can be adjusted as needed to maintain abundance. The dismal record of commercial exploitation speaks for itself in the rampant destruction of valuable ocean fisheries all across our planet. Is it not time to protect striped bass before another collapse occurs, rather than after the damage is done (perhaps irretrievably)?
Many states have already acted to make the striped bass a gamefish. Last year the federal government declared them a gamefish in federal waters. Isn't it long past time for Massachusetts and Rhode Island to follow suit? The purpose of Stripers Forever is to achieve gamefish status for stripers along the entire Atlantic Coast, as the best means to conserve and protect them. Our website (www.stripersforever.org) is loaded with useful information about this species and its current state. When you're sitting out there in your boat, wondering why you are catching no fish, think about joining this effort.
Don't show us, or tell us
To the Editor:
This is a small community newspaper. Yes, a dog has been killing chickens. Why do we need a detailed description of the crime scene? Why not a crime photo? Yes, a dog was killed by another dog at Owen Park. Did we or those little boys need to read an account of how the death took place? They had, after all, already witnessed it. They'll be seeing it forever.
What? No one had a camera? And then, on the next to last page of the Calendar section someone finally spots the error and not only shows us a lovely photo of a beautiful filly but gives us a great shot of her about to be branded, too. Which photo did you like best? Go back and take a really good look at them. Did we really need to see that photograph?
There are a lot of things in this world that I know go on, but I don't need to see or read about them. My guess is that a lot of other folks don't need to either.
To the Editor:
The saga continues. Today, my wife and I visited the Second Hand Store, after calling to see if it was open. (A week ago the place had a closed sign in the window, though it was normal business hours.) Upon assurance that the place was indeed open, we drove over there and the first thing we saw was that the big closed sign was still in the window, though the door was open. This was around 11 am, Thursday, August 21.
Once inside we joined other potential customers trying to pick our way through a helter-skelter, disorganized mess with aisles blocked, a glacier of filled black garbage bags flowing into the showroom from the back room, the small items case blocked on the top with unpriced merchandise and, despite the new paint, a pervasive odor of unwashed clothing and old shoes.
The manager was at the register doing her best to keep on top of at least the sales end of things. She looked pretty harried, which probably wasn't so much her fault as the result of a lack of help. (It's tough to get volunteers when you fire them in front of their acquaintances and friends.)
We've been frequent shoppers there since the place opened years ago, and first Penny, and then later Darlene, became almost members of the family. Sorry to see them go, especially the manner of their going.
As a final note, if the beef was insufficient profits from the shop, why close it for a month during the high season? For an overnight paint job? I don't think so. Looks like the boys and girls, in addition to being shown a shining example of how not to treat employees, will lose even more possible benefits due to the financial shortfall. Too bad.
Above all, support the club
To the Editor:
I find the actions of Joseph Forte and Kelly Hess unprofessional. The firing of the well-known and loved employees of the Boys and Girls Club Second Hand Store was embarrassing behavior for the president of the board of directors to participate in or approve. Nowhere in his Letter to the Editor has he apologized to not only the former employees and volunteers but anyone associated with the shop for not handling the situation more rationally.
I am a sophomore at the Charter School, and although I may not be an adult, or may not know all the details, I see their level of professionalism as poor and their decisions in how the situation was handled ill mannered, as a result of a power trip.
For every action, there is a reaction, and the reaction from this community is the unwillingness to shop at the B&G Second Hand Store when it reopens in early August. Knowing the changes they want to make to it (turning it into an "upscale boutique" as opposed to being a thrift shop) I wouldn't blame anyone for not wanting to continue shopping there. For example, Sally Wallace's statement from July 24 paper "...I shall no longer support them."
But, as this may be the first thought on many people's minds, it's not an appropriate mindset to have. By not supporting the Second Hand Store, we are not hurting or punishing or personally affecting Joseph Forte or Kelly Hess, but the families that use or rely on the summer camps, after school programs, gymnasium, or other miscellaneous programs or services that the Boys and Girls Club may offer. We need to continue to support the Boys and Girls Club, even if the friendly faces of Penny or Darlene, or any of the other employees or volunteers of the "old store," are not greeting us from behind the counter, despite the inappropriate actions of the board members, especially the president.
My conclusion is that the directors made a decision both unprofessional and humiliating that affected more than just the people that were directly involved. But we must remember, our support to the store does not affect them, but the B&G Club, and whatever we as a community decide to do, it ultimately affects the boys and girls.
To the Editor:
Thank you for all the hard work and time involved for the beautiful display of fireworks in August.
Smarter public transit
To the Editor:
"Where's the bus?"
What if we could save a billion dollars a month nationally in fuel costs? Would that lower the cost of gas, of food, or shipping
What about public transportation? What if we could suddenly increase ridership in public transportation? Wouldn't that cut down on the number of automobiles being used? "Of course it would," you say, "but I'm not riding it."
Certainly that would be the reaction of most people, but why? Usually it's for one simple reason: the system is unreliable and more specifically unreliable when you need it in cold or foul weather. The thought of standing in the rain and cold and looking in the direction of the bus (train or trolley) and repeating, to yourself, over and over again, "Where's the bus?
Isn't that the single biggest reason we are not confident with public transportation? The fact that it is just unreliable.
But if we could make the transit system 100 percent efficient, would more people become riders? How would that affect our gas consumption? Every percentage drop in automobile usage would have gigantic savings in fuel consumption
We need to think about making the transit system 100 percent efficient for the end user, not for the service provider. That is the key. Who cares if the bus is late as long as you don't waste your time waiting.
The way to ensure that the bus arrives when you arrive is simple. All the buses and all the trains, at this point, all have GPS. Integrate a system or provide access numbers such that each cell phone user can "key into" the exact location of his or her bus or their train at any moment in time. Once you know when your bus passes your particular benchmark you can exit your home or apartment and arrive at that bus stop with absolute precision, never having to wait more than a minute or two.
You might just call it a "Smart Transit System."
To the Editor:
This past Saturday, August 23, my wife and I took our weekly trip to her hairdresser. While driving along Beach Road approaching Edgartown, the front tire of our car started making a loud noise. When we stopped the car, the car behind us stopped to see what was wrong. The tire was almost flat, so the three people in the other car suggested we drive to the Mobil station. They followed us, and once there, offered to call AAA for us. While waiting for AAA, one of the women went to get us coffee and doughnuts, then brought my wife to her appointment in Katama. AAA came, the hairdresser brought my wife back to Mobil, and we were all set to go home. We could not believe all that the kind people in the car and the hairdresser did for us. There are indeed helpful people on this Island. Thank you.
They answered the call
To the Editor:
We live in a society that seems quick to criticize, but slow to compliment. I would like to thank two tradespeople who have helped me recently: Jim Brennan, the owner of Brennan Heating and Air Conditioning, and Corlis Maciel, owner of Maciel Plumbing and Heating.
First, Jim Brennan installed a new heating and cooling unit at Curves of Martha's Vineyard. We invested in a two-speed unit to save energy over time. For some reason, this unit (must have been built on a Monday by someone with a hangover) had issues. Rick, our main technician for all service calls, spent a lot of time trying to correct the problems. On one visit, he spent nearly two hours on the phone with the technical service folks at Bryant, the manufacturer of the unit. After doing everything that could be done, the problem, lack of cooling, happened again. It was Friday, Illumination Night at 5 pm, when I called the Brennan emergency line. Rick came out within a half hour. This time, it was the compressor. He told me if Bryant did not stand behind it, Jim would. On that following Monday, Rick was at Curves at 8:30 am with a brand-new unit. It was installed within a few hours and the problem has been solved. Jim is a man of his word; Lori his wife, was helpful as well, keeping us informed about prior issues and scheduling appointments. And Rick is a super technician, and we are glad for all his help.
Corlis Maciel, a long-time plumber on the Island, has helped me so many times, it is hard to count. Most recently, I had recharged our acid reduction unit for our water supply. Something went drastically wrong and every toilet in the house plugged up. The valves would not shut off the water. The washing machine cold water was down to a slow trickle. On Sunday, he came over and worked for a couple of hours to remedy the problem. He has always returned calls. His work is impeccable, neat, and reasonable.
Thanks for all the help. You are appreciated and needed on this Island, a place, where many times, when you call, your calls go unanswered.
To the editor:
I am helping to organize the search for a bone marrow donor who could help save a life. You give the gift of life when you donate your bone marrow. Even if you are not a match today, your bone marrow may be the match in the future that will save someone else's life.
The more people who donate, the more opportunity there will be for all those in need to have a chance to live. It is a very simple process.
Please take the time to come to the Agricultural Hall on State Road in West Tisbury on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm to learn about the process.
Please become a bone marrow donor and save a life. Your help could help find the right bone marrow match. It could be you. For more information, contact Michael A. Guglielmo (Save Giovanniʼs Friends) at 603-254-8284.
Lisa Brown Langley