To the Editor:
It must be a relief for you to be out of the headlines – The Gazette, The MV Times, even the Boston Globe’s front page. Let’s face it, while the newspaper coverage of your extraordinary house move was fairly straightforward, even respectful, there was a lot of bad chatter in the town. You could say it started back when you built your 8,000 square foot house on Chappy. The neighbors, many of them, hated it for its size, its inappropriateness, its excesses. And then, within a decade, you are moving that same house back from the ravening ocean’s edge in an effort rivaling the digging of the Panama Canal. The things whispered were not pretty: that the permitting process had been corrupted by the prospects of enrichment that this giant engineering feat would bring to the town, that the millions spent exemplified the transformation of Martha’s Vineyard into an enclave of the super rich and super privileged, the one percent of the one percent. Call it envy, call it the inevitable Vineyard grousing, call it what you like, the whispering wasn’t nice, and you, for all your good works, for all that you must love your privacy, for all that you cherish your family, you became the poster boy for the irresistible power of purse and privilege.
You weren’t given credit for a prodigious act of conservation. You saved a house that the ocean had its eye on as a tear down. You were not acknowledged for having the imagination behind the gargantuan feat of engineering it took to move your house and all its underground appurtenances. You were just another super rich guy having things his way.
Well, I have an idea for you, one that will turn all that surly muttering into a chorus of praise. Bring your resources of gold, stubborn grit, and engineering know how to the Gay Head Lighthouse, which another arm of the ocean has placed in danger. It can’t cost more than it did to move your house. You won’t have to buy an adjacent property to make room for it, or move away another house or structure in its way. It doesn’t have a bowling alley or a movie theater in its basement, so moving it should be a snap. It might be a little tippy, tall as it is, but those guys you brought over from America to do your work surely can do this. Likely it would spread some financial benefits to people of Aquinnah, but it’d be another great piece of conservation, and gratitude for your generosity would be found all over the Island. And no one could accuse you of being selfish, of doing it because you needed the light for navigation purposes or to be comforted by the sweep of its three white-one red loom in the night sky. You’d be a hero.
Peter S. McGhee