To the Editor:
As the former chairman of the town committee on Squibnocket and as a current Chilmark selectman, I find the front-page story of The MV Times on May 11 (“Town meeting isn’t the end of battle over Squibnocket structure”) unfortunate. It distorts the reality of the long and arduous process of the Squibnocket initiative in Chilmark.
The story follows Mr. Liman’s narrative of Mr. Rossi’s impact and alleged conflict of interest. The reality is that the Squibnocket initiative is independent of Mr. Rossi.
The story portrays Doug Liman as a noble citizen fighting against Bill Rossi as a public official with a conflict of interest. The story quotes Mr. Liman saying of the Chilmark selectmen, “They’re used to being able to push through what they want.” The Chilmark selectmen did not propose or “push through” the Squibnocket initiative.
The basis of the May 11 story is a bylaw amendment approved by the town planning board. The amendment came out of Mr. Liman’s continued use of the judicial process to thwart a town initiative to remove a revetment, to create new parking, to gain additional beach access, to create a town boat landing, and to provide access for vehicles and utilities to a subdivision that had been approved by the town’s planning board. The MV Times editorial on Jan. 19, 2017, “The case for the causeway,” urged that “the Chilmark town meeting on April 24 should vote in favor of the improved version of the proposed amendment.”
The town initiative was the product of an independent committee established by town vote. Mr. Rossi was not on that committee. The town initiative was accepted unanimously by Chilmark voters at a special town meeting on Feb 2, 2015. The town initiative was reviewed and accepted unanimously by the full Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Mr. Rossi was not on the MVC. The town initiative was reviewed and accepted unanimously by the Chilmark Conservation Commission. Mr. Rossi was not a member of the ConCom. After appeal by Mr. Liman, the Department of Environmental Protection upheld the town initiative. Mr. Rossi was not a member of the DEP.
To portray the issue of access, beach, parking, boat landing, and revetment removal as a dispute between Mr. Liman vs. Mr. Rossi is sensational. But it is not the news story. The issue is Mr. Liman’s refusal to accept the studied decisions of the town committee on Squibnocket, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Chilmark Conservation Commission, MassDEP, and the voters of Chilmark.
Indeed, The MV Times editorial stated that the Squibnocket initiative “is the right solution. It’s been exhaustively poked and prodded, and it’s a good deal for the entire town.” And, need I add, Mr. Rossi is not a member of The MV Times editorial board.
Jim Malkin is a Chilmark selectman, and was chairman of the town committee on Squibnocket. —Ed.