Letters to the Editor
Let the voters say
To the Editor:
The events of this past week affecting our proposal for a place for the performing arts at the Aquinnah Circle leave the effort diverted but not derailed, delayed but not destroyed. There was a successful effort by several residents, some of whom are voters, to co-opt the process via raw political power rationalized by some spurious semantic feints. The pity is, in a turn of events sometimes acrimonious, occasionally hysterical, the will of the voters remains unknown. In that fact, these opponents may have mis-served their own cause.
My purpose here is not to advocate our concept as much as to highlight the failures of process we all experienced. Indeed, our proposal seeks only to benefit the larger group of townspeople: if it is not the will of the voters to embrace our offer, so be it. With that will unknowable, given the lack of good faith displayed in the manner this was handled, the question remains open, serving no one. This minority group has fallen into the trap of allowing their zealotry to overshadow all reason and due process. It is an ethical truism that ends do not justify the means. Perhaps they took the path they did out of desperation, out of fear of the truth. The only fact left knowable is that such truth remains unknown, begging for the light of day.
The argument against the effort revolves mostly about the desire for stasis. Admittedly, it threatens the status quo. But it does so to achieve an arguably larger good for the arts, for the economy of the poorest town in the Commonwealth, for the sharing of the cultures we all embrace. This is the choice we still believe only the voters are empowered to make. At times, we all have felt the desire to be the last person off the boat. But this is a cynical expression of negativity that defies logic, courtesy or propriety. Why not let the voters speak their mind?
Most of all, my partner, Ted Cammann, and myself want to thank all those who take heed of the merits that all but a very few will admit may accrue to our idea and assume a positive perspective - positive not necessarily in favor our proposal, but positive for our future in their persistent attempts to find common ground to bring the most benefit to the greater part of our community. Those indeed are the ones our children should look up to and seek to emulate.
Circle Productions LLC
It's not Aquinnah
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the Aquinnah selectmen.
This letter is in vigorous opposition to the proposal of Circle Productions to create a seasonal venue for the holding of concerts and other events in the circle at the cliffs. We, 31 undersigned residents of Aquinnah, request that this letter be read into the public record at the public hearing to be held on this matter, April 30, or whenever held.
As we all know, Aquinnah is an unusual place. Indeed, even Wikipedia, the world wide web's encyclopedia, states that Aquinnah "is known for its beautiful clay cliffs and its quiet natural serenity, which has become less common in the heavily populated northeastern United States." Thus, we agree with the opening statement of the group seeking to promote such concerts.
In their proposal, they state that the townspeople of Aquinnah, are "blessed with a very special and unique place." That statement is right on the money (so to speak). It is, in fact, the essence of why we all want to be here.
We also agree with the promoters that the uniqueness of Aquinnah and of the cliffs makes it a particularly attractive venue for concerts or for other public gatherings. But the issue here is not whether Aquinnah is a good place for concerts. The issue is whether concerts are good for Aquinnah.
The congestion, the traffic, the pollution, the litter and, above all, the loud amplified sound emanating from the proposed stage and echoing into the landscape and into our homes are not in keeping with the nature and identity of this community. No amount of fine tuning of the proposal, no amount of tinkering with the terms and conditions of the proposed lease, no amount of negotiation with the promoters is going to solve this fundamental inconsistency. No matter how well run and organized, an ongoing series of concerts at the circle is in direct conflict with the uniqueness of our town and with our "quiet natural serenity."
On a personal level, we wish to say that all of us reside in Aquinnah because we love the openness and texture of the landscape, the sound of the surf hitting the beach, the crickets at night, the wind in the trees, the solitude and privacy, and the friendship of our neighbors. For us, there is no place else on earth like this.
We do not reside in Aquinnah to fight with, to listen to, or to watch traffic and to breathe its exhaust, or to admire the many cars parking up and down Moshup Trail, or to have electronically amplified sound keep our children awake at night while blotting out the sounds of nature. We can get that in other places. We come here, to the far end of an Island in the middle of the ocean, for a different reason.
As for congestion, the promoters admit as much in their proposal. They say, "these events will attract visitors who may not otherwise have ventured into the woolly westernmost wilds of our Island...." But, as a town, haven't we tried very hard to keep things "woolly and wild?" Why would bringing hundreds or thousands of people to Aquinnah on a regular basis be attractive to the town?
To the promoters, the reason is to increase commerce. Their proposal states that bringing visitors would "create an opportunity for the more established businesses to increase their exposure, not only on the day of the event; but by instilling their offerings in the minds of these sometime visitors...." In this way, the proposal continues, these visitors would be "likely to return at another time." In plain English, bringing more visitors now means even more visitors later, and not just on weekends.
And where does bringing more and more visitors to Aquinnah all end? What is the ultimate effect on the town? To what degree will this change the nature of this place? The promoters address this issue as well. They state: "It is impossible for us to conjure a certain vision of where this proposal will lead after a number of years." Yes, indeed.
Is increasing the circle's commercial use in the Aquinnah residents' best interests? Is such commercial expansion part of our town's long-term plan? To be absurd, we could conceivably put a strip mall at the top of the circle and have a mini-Woodstock every weekend. But how less absurd is it - no matter the degree of commercialization - to act contrary to and to defeat the very reason we all reside here?
The promoters, it appears, seek to establish a kind of outdoor Hot Tin Roof in the heart of our community, one where we can hear the music from our houses without having to pay for admission.
How many of our fellow townspeople are delighted that they don't live down-island - with all its traffic - during the summer? How many of us seek a decrease in the value of our homes, because Aquinnah's identity as a safe, quiet and unique haven is threatened and up for sale? Is the dignity of the Vanderhoop homestead for sale? How much are the spectacular and commanding views of Philbin Beach and Nomans Land worth?
The promoters state that Aquinnah "offers us all an opportunity and a responsibility in the privilege to designate its use." We submit that their proposal is an inappropriate use and, given our town's uniqueness, it is irresponsible as well.
The promoters state that their "proposal has no merit if it fails to bring us together as neighbors in pursuit of the greater good...." We agree. By bringing an activity to Aquinnah that is alien to its identity, to its nature, and to our reasons for being here, this proposal will surely fail to bring the people of Aquinnah together as neighbors. Nor does the proposal promote the greater good; it will, instead, tend toward destroying it. Judged, then, even by the promoters' own terms, the proposal has no merit.
Rob Schiller, Sue Jensen, Tom Murphy, Christine Murphy, Tim Murphy, Kate Murphy, Jim Vercruysee, Layne Vercruysee, Steven Kaufman, Barrie Keller, Joseph Corbo, Faith Corbo, Ron Lowe, Cindy Lowe, John Patton, Lisa Donahue, Kristin Mannion, H.P. Goldfield, Catherine Vickery, David Vickery, Barbara Okun, Cheryl Batzer, Gary Foster, Lisa Foster, Clyde Phillips, Jane Lancelotti, Sarah Thulin, Dennis Thulin, Jay Theise, Beth Green, Jerry Green
A modest proposal
To the Editor:
While it seems folks working in the affordable housing field perceive any article or comment raising issues -any issues - about affordable housing to be negative or critical, nothing could be further from the truth. To wit, concerns in West Tisbury about the current costs of affordable housing units, being raised by folks who have been involved for many years in affordable housing should help to improve these important and necessary projects for everyone.
Most specifically the May 1 Vineyard Gazette reported issues about the cost of construction at 250 State Road in West Tisbury, which should be fully aired and debated. The resolution, and the lessons learned, should continue the construction of well-designed, well-built, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient units, but at a more reasonable cost. This would mean more money for other projects and ultimately, more homes for Islanders.
It is also very important because a substantial portion of the costs for these units, regardless of where the sources of funding emanate, are ultimately borne by you and me.
All of us who have been involved in affordable housing have been delighted to learn about new opportunities for affordable housing units for deserving Islanders. A serendipitous bonus has been that most have been carefully designed, beautifully built, energy-efficient, and constructed for low maintenance.
I've had the privilege of visiting several, such as the South Mountain Company houses at Jenney Lane, and they are wonderful. Unfortunately, what has been less delightful is the steep (and rising) cost of affordable units. It has been painful for many of us who live in some form of affordable housing, that is affordable to us even if not officially designated as such, to experience over the past couple of years the sharp increases in our real estate taxes, insurance costs and other carrying costs associated with home ownership. These realities have been particularly painful for a large segment of the population that is living modestly and earning considerably less annually than the income guidelines for affordable housing assistance.
So, it is exquisitely painful to know that the units at 250 State Road will be platinum-certified for energy efficiency (or something similar) and a model for the rest of America, while most of us can't afford to make basic improvements, or can't find meaningful assistance with the costs to achieve anything like the same goal.
My own modestly sized, somewhat elderly house now costs more in annual payments for real estate tax, insurance, and a few other small fees, all before operating expenses or mortgage payments, than my parents paid for the property (albeit a somewhat smaller house) in 1951. Recently, I've been undertaking retrofitting and upgrading to make the house (a real energy squanderer, for which I'd be glad to share the results of the "blower door test") with insulation in the basement, crawlspace, and attic crawlspace, plus other improvements, such as solar panels for domestic hot water and an energy efficient boiler to replace a 1959 unit.
This should help to trim operating expenses, and there is no question that upgrading is the right thing to do for all sorts of reasons, but it is very expensive. And, for this house it only achieves an unofficial brass, or maybe zinc, status on the certification scale, far below the silver/gold/platinum range that some of the affordable housing projects are attaining.
So, here is a modest proposal and a challenge: rather than pouring money into the showcase projects (admirable as they may be), the affordable housing groups need to be seriously considering how to make serious money available to Islanders who already have existing homes and who need assistance with updating for lower maintenance and greater energy efficiency. Apparently, Community Preservation Act funding may not be legally used for these purposes, although morally and ethically it should be, and actual grant money, rather than tax credits may be hard to come by. So, why don't the affordable housing groups start aggressively fundraising for just these sorts of purposes and, using local contractors - via some sort of public bidding process - assist Islanders with existing houses. It could cover a lot of bases. It would help Islanders with green technology and energy efficiency projects, help Islanders upgrade to decent and more affordable homes, and it could provide employment for a lot of folks. And, it would probably serve as a model for other communities. This could, and should be, a very effective process, serving a lot more Islanders at a reasonable cost. What could be simpler? Think about it.
Virginia Crowell Jones
Solar works, even here
To the Editor:
I beg to differ with a statement in a recent article on solar hot water. The statement that solar electric systems don't work in northern climates is, in my opinion, inaccurate. We had a 2,700-watt photovoltaic system installed in 2005. Granted we don't use as much electricity as the average American family, but we spend less than $500 a year on electric. Whereas we would spend about $1,440 without the system.
Our cost was $8,628, after a state rebate (federal and state tax incentives totaling 45 percent of cost are currently available). At the present cost of electricity, our system will pay for itself in about 9.5 years, and the system should have a life span of 20 to 30 years.
The payback period is about to decrease as electric costs continue to rise. (Rates have increased by more than 80 percent since 1997.) Electric rates on the Vineyard are about twice the national average. I'd say that photovoltaics works for me. Our system will have paid for itself by 2015 or sooner, and all the power it makes will effectively be free for the next 10 to 20 years.
Looking for an alternative
To the Editor:
We've often used Enterprise Car Rental in Falmouth. Just looked at my Visa bill and discovered they charge for the days they are closed, regardless of when you return the car (key drop). So renting for a 24 hour period or two means nothing, if it's the weekend.
They are pretty quiet about this, and it may be with a little technology they could monitor the time the car is returned - like a scan of the key drop.
However, they feel it isn't a big problem for customers, since they can return the car to Hyannis Airport and, presumably, take a cab to Wood's Hole?
They've always been nice, but this is lousy and compounded by the fact they have bought Avis and National in Falmouth, and all are closed.
They get a lot of business from Martha's Vineyard and have mentioned on one occasion that our business keeps them open in the winter. If there is a competitor out there with a better deal, I'd like to hear about it.
A community to thank
To the Editor:
The family of Helen Miller, who died on April 19, is grateful for the compassionate care she received over the years from the dedicated staff at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, including Drs. Bigby, Donnelly, Fudem, Guiney, Kendall, McMahon, and Pil; case manager Gail Poggi; and innumerable nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and support staff. We are also deeply thankful for the loving and long-term efforts of our mother's in-home caregivers, Judy Dimond and Mary Hart. A special thanks to the On Time crew, who for nearly 50 years safely ferried her between Chappy and Edgartown. Mom was so fortunate in her choice of the community she called home.
Barrie Gollinger, Weston
Kathy Scogna, Roseville, Calif.
Char Miller, Claremont, Calif.
Niki Miller, Oley, Penn.
In her memory
To the Editor:
We all have lost a mother, grandmother, aunt, former schoolteacher, friend, and lover of ex-greyhounds (and other dogs she had) and of course horses. This very well liked person is of course Mrs. Samuel Leighton, who was married to Sam for over 40 years.
I, like a lot of people on Martha's Vineyard, go way back knowing this caring, talented, and good person. I knew her years ago when I was little, and I used to babysit for her girls. She got them a pony named Sugar - that was just the start into the horse world.
Then, as the girls got older, they got their horses, Lancer and Missy. So then I was the horse transport person to get their horses to the shows. Many hours of lessons she taught her daughters, and they did well at the shows as time went on.
I used to see her walking these very big dogs, retired greyhounds that use to race. She also had German shepherds. You use to see these big guys riding around in the van with her and the kids. Well, the girls grew up, horses took a back seat, they all got married over the years, and then the grandchildren came, Gail's daughter Nancy's daughters, and Patty's boys. But Gram was still taking care of horses at the old Prada farm on Clevelandtown Road, owned by Sally Brewster now.
Then Nancy's daughter was old enough to ride a horse, then Gram was busy with Rachael with lessons and at horse shows. They got a flashy pony for Rachael named Brook. At every horse show she got lots of blues. They were quite the twosome, winning classes galore and championships, but Gram was at the sidelines at every horse show.
Then came Kelly, the second good rider Gram coached at the shows. She did just as well as her big sister. I know all this, because I was the one that transported these ponies and horses throughout the years. And also Gail's daughters were avid riders and did very well.
As for Patty's boys, well that was a different scene, the ice hockey world. Probably because their dad, Kurt Mundt, was in pro hockey before he married Patty. So, you can bet Grampa and Gram were there for many of their games and that the boys were very good and were in many winning games. As for Mrs. L, the school teacher in Oak Bluffs for many, many years, I do know she came to Edgartown to teach gym, and I had her then, as a lot of you people out there remember her being your teacher.
And I and many girls were in the original 4-H club "Boots and Saddles." Yes, that was a very long time ago, lol. So, I am donating in memory of Mrs. L to the new animal shelter on Martha's Vineyard, for all the wonderful things she did in her lifetime. I'm sure that was on her mind at some time or other, to save the shelter for Martha's Vineyard animals that need it. So, one and all out there, former school students, 4-H kids, and Boys Club kids (all grown-ups now), think of Mrs. L and the shelter to carry on, and donate whatever you can. Send to County of Dukes County, Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539. And may Mrs. L be among lots of the dogs and beautiful horses she so loved.
Edgartown and Loris, S.C.
Appalled and outraged
To the Editor:
I was appalled and outraged, while making a trip on the Island Home on April 28, when out on top deck a large, hefty man, 50-ish, was holding a large Scottish terrier type dog right on top of the rail. It was very windy out there. His wife or companion was holding a retractable leash attached to the dog's collar while she was seated on a chair.
I politely approached the man with concern for the dog's safety. He became rebellious and angry, screaming obscenities and telling me to mind my own business. I told him this was my business. Animal or child neglect should be everyone's business. I was merely concerned for the safety of the dog. It was heartbreaking to watch.
The man stated it was "his dog," and he could do what he wanted.
There were several other people inside the boat watching this incident who were also outraged at this callous act of negligence.
I would hope the ship would have a policy regarding holding pets or children on top of the rail with their legs dangling on the other side.
Edgartown and Honolulu
Stop senseless damage
To the Editor:
Sunday morning I decided to walk South Beach toward the Edgartown Great Pond opening in an effort to catch a few early spring stripers. During my walk I was appalled and disgusted at the damage to the beach, dunes, and beach grass caused by several ATVs. The damage extended several miles from where I joined the beach, at the end of Herring Creek Road, to well beyond Edgartown Great Pond opening. Clearly these riders had total disregard for the fragility of this beautiful stretch of beach.
I have to believe that the riders were kids, for I can't believe that sober adults could do this. Regardless, all involved should be held accountable and should be required to spend numerous hours of conservation effort restoring this damage.
There were several sets of 4X4 tire tracks on this stretch of beach, and I strongly urge anyone that may have seen the ATVs to contact the Edgartown authorities with information that could lead to their apprehension.
If the riders were kids, the parents need to step up and accept responsibility for their delinquents. Do the right thing and put a stop to this senseless damage.
A terrible word
To the Editor:
The following is my strongly held opinion regarding the word "torture" and its relation to the "enhanced interrogation techniques," as apparently practiced by some who were authorized to do so during their investigation of suspected terrorists.
Everyone snickers when you mention a dirty word. The word "torture" is not a dirty word. It is a terrible word. It is a word that bespeaks the utmost in human depravity toward a fellow human being. It is a word that conjures up the very worst of what happened in the holocaust. It is a word that should be forever banned from the lexicon of world languages. Those who practice physical or emotional torture should be themselves tortured, but those who order others to torture are one degree worse. Their names should be marked forever for scorn and shame, that their acts may never be repeated.
A full and open investigation, with complete and public conclusions, must be made, and if laws have been broken, responsibility must be made clear. Under the circumstances, penalties should be only the publicity of those names which have flouted the law and American morality.
A friend's testimonial
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the article on Geoghan Coogan, I have known Gee since we were 4. I am sure most people in Tisbury already know this, but for those who do not let me tell you what you are getting in your new selectman. Geoghan is and always has been one of the hardest working, most responsible people I know.
Gee is an incredible son, brother, husband, father, and friend. He always has everyone's best interest at heart and will work hard for all of the citizens of Tisbury.
Gee picked up right where his dad left off, and somewhere Ed is looking down with a grin from ear to ear. I'm proud of you Gee, you contribute so much to this community, and it makes me proud to call you friend.
To the Editor:
Beach access issues seem to be raised each spring, and rightly so. The Island has created a scenario that excludes many of its residents from access to most of its up-Island shoreline. This is not right. Maybe, as a compromise, the up-Island towns could allow parking for up to 10 non-town resident vehicles each day at their private beaches, at first limited to Island year-round residents, and on a first-come basis each day, and maybe 20 walk-on non-residents. We have created an exclusionary society which promotes snobbery when we exclude our residents in entirety from nature's treasures.
Town park, indeed
To the Editor:
Michele Jones of the Dukes County Fisherman's Association, in her letter "Not a town park," published April 30, claims that I was in error calling Lambert's Cove Beach a town park because it is a "deeded beach." Lambert's Cove Beach is owned by the town of West Tisbury. It is also managed by the West Tisbury Park and Recreation department. Passes to Lambert's Cove were sold out of the West Tisbury town hall and are now sold at the West Tisbury School. So, that is why I consider a town-owned property, operated by a town's park and recreation department to be a town park. Please check for yourselves if you don't believe me.
I hope this will be the beginning of a thoughtful dialog on this issue from Ms. Jones or anyone else. If not, silence will continue to be my validation. End beach apartheid.
To the Editor:
From time to time, I don't appreciate living on Martha's Vineyard Island. That is always when Martha's Vineyard calls me back to its grace, beauty and meaning. This week I was asked by some geese on a pond in Chilmark to watch their dance on the water. Next, I was beckoned to the unveiling of the mural in Vineyard Haven - a community project spanning time, ages, community members, art and so much more. Then, I participated in the building of the Chilmark School garden, a project that is Island-wide in the schools, with teachers, kids, parents, laughter, food, cooperation, planning, time, beauty. I thank the community and Martha's Vineyard for giving me a full week of reminders of the grace that is Martha's Vineyard.
Mary Kuh Ambulos
To the Editor:
There is a new and exciting permanent landmark on Martha's Vineyard that personifies the Vineyard at its best. A 40-foot mural, depicting scenes from the six Island towns has been permanently placed on the wall of the Stop & Shop in Vineyard Haven, and like Plymouth Rock, will be seen by every passenger setting foot on the Vineyard, many for the first time. The design artists, Anne Grandin and Thomas Larson, opened up this mammoth project in January 2008, to local artists and art students at the Regional High School under the supervision of high school art director, Paul Brissette.
I applaud the Tisbury selectmen, who in their wisdom gave their blessing to a citizen's proposal to paint the mural. Local artists were notified to submit design entries which were displayed at the Vineyard Haven Public Library, and the winners were selected there. Students at the Regional High School Building Trades Program, who built the panels, worked closely with students from the Art Department, and the design artists worked alongside the team for over a year.
They should feel extremely proud of their extraordinary effort, and I urge all of you to view this outstanding mural.
Happy Birthday, Pete
To the Editor:
What a day it was. It was a raining outside, but inside the Featherstone Center it was a bright sunshiny day, as a large group of us gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of an American icon, Pete Seeger. Pete himself was at the Garden in NYC, with the Boss and Joan Baez playing a fundraiser for his favorite charity, Clearwater.
Thanks to the Featherstone Center, Tristan Israel, Nancy Jephcote, Richard Knabel, Mark Lovewell, Richard Skidmore, and Paul Thurlow, it was a gathering of the spirit.
It has been a while since I've gathered with like-minded friends to sit on the floor, listen to music, and sing. We all knew Pete's songs from various periods in America's history. Decades ago, when Pete sang for the environment, for civil rights, and against the Viet Nam War, he was a hero to me and to millions like me. His songs will forever be in our heads: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "If I Had a Hammer," "We Shall Overcome."
Recently I have learned about all of the work and singing that had gone on before, generations before. Banned during the McCarthy period, for daring to defy the House Un-American Activities Committee, Seeger was kept off of television and radio, out of the newspapers, denied his livelihood.
Pete was a union man. Singing for social justice through the decades. There were clearly times when he, Toshi, and their children were under serious threat for their lives. Richard Knabel, who had worked with Pete, told us stories that made Pete a real person, not "merely" a legend.
Sitting right down front, I was surrounded by the music and community. After thanking the performers for their songs, Mark Lovewell said, "You really enjoyed yourself."
Yes I did. What better way to celebrate Pete Seeger's birthday than to sit on the floor, sing, and look around and realize how deeply Pete has touched so many people through the generations with his music.
Congratulations and thanks
To the Editor:
The Edgartown Library's building fund greatly appreciates the efforts of the student council of the Edgartown School to raise money for the library's expansion. Their month-long Penny Campaign raised $108.25, which we understand was a hefty 60 pounds or so. Removing the coins from the plastic water jug must have been quite a task.
Their posters and announcements apparently led various classrooms to mount their own individual efforts to be added to the collection. They also raised public awareness of the library's need for enhanced technology and more room. Won't it be wonderful to have the children's and young adult sections in separate areas?
Thanks for your great help.
Courtney Brady, for the Trustees of the Edgartown Library
Friends of the Edgartown Library
Edgartown Library Foundation