To the Editor:
This is a letter I’ve sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
Fishing is my hobby. Fishing is also my passion, something that started when I was six years old on a dock in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Since retiring to Martha’s Vineyard in 2002, I have been fortunate to play at my hobby a minimum of 100 times per year. I am a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters, having served as treasurer and membership chairman. Prior to my retirement, I was the executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, a national nonprofit fisheries advocacy organization based in Houston.
Having stated that, I came into this process with an open mind and attended the recent Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting to hear both sides of the debate about the location of the proposed fishing pier. After hearing the arguments, I came away convinced that the proposed site is the best location for this pier. Although limited, there is or will be parking, handicap access, and toilet facilities — an important component for families with young children as well as handicapped people.
The neighbors are concerned about noise. The proposed site is in an area where a high volume of street noise already exists. I don’t see this pier contributing to that problem. Also, the L-shaped end of the pier where most of the activity will take place is proposed to be more than 300 feet from the sea wall and berm. Add to that the width of the berm itself, the Seaview Avenue sidewalk and road, and you are looking at more than 400 feet or the length of a football field plus a third of another. A long way for a voice to travel, even on the quietest of nights. The height of the berm itself will also serve as a buffer from potential noise and prevailing southwest summer winds will tend to carry noise away from the area.
I would also like to address the argument about the area being a dead zone with a sandy bottom devoid of structure. The same argument could have been made many years ago when the steamship dock was constructed. The area now teems with marine life. To quote a line from a popular movie, “If you build it, they will come”.
The most important aspect of this pier is the pleasure and memories it will bring to countless numbers of local and visiting families with young children, who currently have no safe place to fish. In a community rich with a fishing heritage, this pier is a natural, and long overdue on Martha’s Vineyard.
Please approve this project. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.