Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
The Times' excellent September 3 article ["State's early hunt would cull resident geese"] on the Canada goose problem prompts me to make a couple of suggestions for control of the geese, in addition to the increased hunting pressure.
The determination that geese along with cormorants are significant sources of fecal coliform bacteria in Sengekontacket (and doubtless our other coastal ponds as well) comes as no surprise to anyone who walks the shorelines of our ponds, strewn with goose droppings. Thanks to Oak Bluffs shellfish constable Dave Grunden, the Friends of Sengekontacket, and Dr. Steven Jones at the University of New Hampshire Jackson Laboratory, we now have a better understanding of the sources of coliform bacteria in our ponds.
Additionally, there is the question of the role of geese and cormorants in the excess nitrogen loading of the ponds. Some investigators have concluded that the nitrogen contribution by geese is not significant compared to sources such as the atmosphere and septic systems. However, geese, unlike swans, are primarily upland grazers and are net importers of nitrogen in the non-breeding season, returning to the safety of the ponds at night where they deposit fecal matter.
Whether because of fecal coliform or nitrogen, the resident Canada goose population is "invasive species" in that it doesn't belong here in the breeding season, much less year-round. Note the name, "Canada," where the migratory individuals of the species still breed.
In addition to extending the hunting season to reduce the goose population, there are two other control methods to consider. One is addling of eggs, which Dave Grunden has begun at Sengekontacket. The eggs are shaken and returned to the nest, the female continues to brood the no-longer-viable embryos until the breeding urge has waned, resulting in no offspring being produced for that season. Geese being long-lived, many years of addling are necessary for this method to be effective. More so, for addling to be effective long-range, it must be done over a large region, as even the non-migratory Canada Geese move about the region as the population expands.
In our case, it would be necessary to addle nests throughout the Island. Volunteers could accomplish the task. Far and away the most effective method of reducing the goose population would be with cannon nets, used for decades by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to capture geese for banding, and other research work. The nets would be most effective at golf courses and farms, where large flocks gather. The birds would be quickly and humanely dispatched (as are the chickens we eat daily), and the population would quickly become manageable. Each year, depending on an Island-wide census of the geese, a decision could be made on whether or not to use the cannon net, taking into account the needs of the goose hunters for quarry.
My goose-hunting friends tell me that most hunters eat only the breast meat and prefer young birds because the meat of old birds is so tough. Has anyone considered goose burgers? Seriously. The birds could be processed by the portable Island poultry facility now handling large numbers of domestic fowl. The goose resource could be a source of protein for those in need, and our ponds would be the better for it. Food for thought.
Mr. Woodruff is a wildlife biologist and environmental consultant.
Sharky's news service
To the Editor:
Last Friday night we were enjoying our evening when my husband's phone beeped with a text message. That can only be another great deal from J.B. at Sharky's, I thought, as he is practically the only one who texts us.
Imagine my surprise when the text message (as well as an email on my phone) informed us of the "Boil Order" for the Oak Bluffs water due to coliform bacteria. I immediately went on the town's website, which I couldn't find (it seems to have disappeared), as well as the MV Times website, where there was no information.
Then on Sunday, I went to Sharky's in Edgartown only to be informed by J.B. again that bottled water is available at the library. Again, a great public service provided by Sharky's. All this time, and Sharky's was the only source of local notification.
I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to know what's going on in town, good deals or bad news, you better go to Sharky's and get on their email list. It's the best source of information in town.
Thank you, Sharky's.
To the Editor:
I am appalled at the poor response to the recent notification (or lack thereof) about the drinking water ban in Oak Bluffs. Apparently between Tuesday and Friday at 5:30 (the results were in on Thursday) all of us were drinking this water. Finally the Water Department issued a statement to boil water Friday, at 5:30. The health department was not advised about this until Saturday about 10:30 am. None of our four local TV stations carried any bulletins! Outrageous. Most people heard only by word of mouth. I spoke to people who never heard until Monday, and I'm sure there are people who never heard about it.
What about those with compromised immune systems, elderly, and babies? Where is our so-called emergency preparedness? If this is an example of how we handle emergencies, we might as well forget about it. This was absolutely unforgivable. Someone or some people should be severely taken to task over this, and communications with the public should be drastically improved.
To the Editor:
Our summer spent in Oak Bluffs was certainly enhanced by the various musical groups that we happened upon playing in the Post Office Square. There was the little band from North Carolina; the young mother with two children, all on stringed instruments; and, our favorite, Nick the saxophonist. Talented musicians, all.
Our little grandson was entertained by all of them, dancing and running to the tunes. It was such a pleasant and wholesome alternative to the bar scene for many families. We even discovered some shops we didn't know existed. Thank you to the town of Oak Bluffs for permitting these groups to play, giving them a chance to perform, earn a few extra dollars and giving us some fond memories to add to many others during our summer on Martha's Vineyard.
To the Editor:
In a letter last week, Susan Sellers incorrectly stated that "the wind turbines proposed for Nantucket Sound will not even turn for 223 days of each year due to lack of wind".
In fact, Cape Wind's turbines on Horseshoe Shoal would be rotating and producing power about 86 percent of the time, due to the abundant and fairly consistent winds on Horseshoe Shoal.
In average wind conditions, Cape Wind will produce 182 megawatts of power. As a point of reference, the average electric demand of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket is 230 megawatts.
Cape Wind will also be a strong performer during times of greatest system need. Thanks to the region's strong sea breezes, Cape Wind would have produced above average power during 11 of the past 12 record summer electric demand events.
Favors wind in our backyard
To the Editor:
There is much controversy about installing large wind turbines in Vineyard waters. For many people, the primary issue is their appearance. They believe turbines are ugly. One speaker at last Wednesday's Ocean Management Plan hearing bluntly stated "Not in my back yard."
While the visual impact of turbines deserves consideration, we need to carefully examine other issues as well, for they too affect our lives.
Climate change: Fossil-fueled power plants release CO2, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. President Obama told the UN last week, "Our generation's response to this challenge [climate change] will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe".
Air, water, and food quality: Fossil-fueled power plants release sulfur, mercury, and other dangerous elements. Nuclear plants release radioactive elements. All cause an assortment of ailments, including asthma, brain damage, and cancer.
The need for new power plants: We need to replace old plants with new ones that are safe, reliable, and affordable.
Availability of fuels, and their costs: Uranium, oil, and natural gas are non-renewable fuels. They're largely found in foreign countries, and being depleted. As supplies diminish, their prices rise. This causes electricity prices to rise. In contrast, the renewable fuels - sunlight, wind, moving water, geothermal heat, and biomass - are forever available, and free. Wind turbines need an average wind speed of at least 12 mph. Most of Massachusetts doesn't have this average, but the Cape and Islands do.
Challenges of gathering fuels and disposing of their wastes: Much of the coal we gather involves destroying mountains and dumping waste into streams and lakes. Most of the oil we burn comes from foreign countries, paid for with dollars and lives. The nuclear fuel cycle scatters radioactive wastes around strip mines, processing plants, and storage pools. Wastes remain dangerous for hundreds of years.
Challenges of decommissioning power plants: Fossil-fueled power plants can be cut up and recycled. So can wind turbines and other renewable devices. But nuclear plants become radioactive, so must be left in place, sealed, and guarded for decades.
Impact of power plants on fish and birds: Fish and birds, like humans, are killed and sickened by the emissions and spills from fossil and nuclear-fueled power plants. Wind turbines can kill and injure creatures, but the number is not well established.
Impact on real estate values. Property and home values tend to be lower when they're near power plants, strip mines, smog, and waste-processing plants. Feelings are mixed about the appearance of wind turbines, so their impact on real estate values is unknown. Some people claim that initial concerns fade once turbines have been operating for a few months.
Impact on tourism: Power plants, strip mines, smog, and waste processing plants are not known to attract tourists. Some European experts claim that turbines do.
Construction, operation, and decommissioning costs: Costs for conventional hydro, onshore wind, and geothermal energy are roughly one-third those for nuclear, while biomass and small-scale hydro come in at half the cost. Higher costs are projected for offshore wind, ocean wave, and solar - but, again, all are less expensive than nuclear.
Employment opportunities: Many people are employed when a new power plant (of any type) is designed, refined, constructed, operated, serviced, and decommissioned.
Construction times: Fossil and renewable power plants typically take around five years to permit and construct. Nuclear plants take 10 to 20 years. Experts claim that we must act fast to halt runaway climate change.
Compensation for hosting power plants: Some people claim that power plants are a visual burden to their host community, thus the community should be compensated (possibly with reduced electricity rates). But we can do no better than guess about the extent of the burden. What if it turns out that the majority of residents decide that the power plants, especially wind turbines, are attractive, a source of pride, and are increasing tourism? Should the residents then decline previously negotiated compensation?
I encourage every one of us to carefully ponder all of these important issues. And when we're asked to vote for or against constructing large wind turbines "in our backyard [waters]," I hope we'll vote to approve them.
Wait some more
To the Editor:
I am so sad to hear about the end of Bridge Housing's efforts to create 22 units of affordable homeownership on 14.8 acres off State Road in Tisbury. It has been a truly grassroots effort with a tremendous amount of hard work, monetary investment, concessions and compromises on the part many dedicated folks, working with the help of the Land Bank, the land seller, housing organizations and town and Island boards to bring this project forward. It is hugely disappointing and shows how all the delays over months and years, from the time any project is initiated, can really sabotage its becoming a reality.
It is a beautiful piece of land and really great place for a project like this that is convenient to both West Tisbury and Tisbury. With so much of the groundwork done, one would hope that, as the market picks up, it will not just end up being another high end development. Especially in this difficult economic time and in spite of falling housing prices, we still find ourselves very far behind in fulfilling the need for affordable home ownership or rentals on this island.
I do hope all our Island boards will take note of what happened with this project. Smaller projects like 250 State Road, Jenney Way, and Bradley Square are very commendable, but they are not getting us nearer our housing goals fast enough, and even they have been fraught with huge costly delays.
Each year that goes by sends our Island farther behind in achieving the goals set out by our Island-wide affordable housing organizations. Thank you Bridge Housing for all your efforts and thanks to the others who have spent countless hours on this project. Twenty-two families will now have to wait a very long time for any hope of home ownership on this island.
To the Editor:
The serious rupture among Americans is often fueled by media spokespersons who choose to misrepresent and disseminate untruths. Many of these spokespersons use mainstream media outlets as their personal soapboxes to impregnate hatred into our society. However, Glen Beck, the controversial Fox News host, has taken this rhetoric to another level. Mr. Beck's assertions are nationally broadcast incendiary pieces of hate speech.
This past summer, Mr. Beck made a number of hostile and racially charged statements about President Barack Obama.
Mr. Beck stated, and I quote, "The president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep seated hatred for white people...this guy is, I believe, a racist."
Such allegation fuels the fire of racism within our nation, playing into the racial paranoia and fear which some white Americans have.
Along this same line, Mr. Beck repeatedly asserted that President Obama has a "reparation appetite" as well as a "desire to settle old racial scores." Clearly, Mr. Beck's goal is to assist the GOP in their efforts to undermine the Obama administration's ability to accomplish anything.
Mr. Beck employs the polished GOP tactics of hate mongering to further mobilize and strengthen racial hate. Mr. Beck's words aspire to assassinate the character of President Obama, whom he vehemently repudiates.
Sadly, even in the crux of our troubled times, when we should be coming together to address and resolve crucial matters such as health care, the declining economy and the skyrocketing national unemployment rate, Mr. Beck, supported by many Republicans, chooses to further mislead and harm our nation and its citizenry.
Mr. Beck's attempt to revive such hateful, racial rhetoric, however, is futile. Already, over 62 corporate sponsors have pulled their ads from Beck's show, and despite his deep-seated racial prejudices, Mr. Beck, Fox News, and the GOP continue to nicely illustrate their toxic and segregated vision for our nation. Nevertheless, having just lived through the corruptions, deceptions, and lies of the George W. Bush era, we acutely remember those turbulent eight years. Hence, we are not the docile, silent lambs that we once were, walking calming to the slaughterhouse. President Obama was elected because change is desired and terribly needed, and his benevolent, nurturing vision for the future of our nation is one of integration, equality, tolerance, security, and prosperity.
Virgil, the son of a peasant farmer who rose to become one of the greatest poets in all of Rome, wrote in Eclogue X, "Omnia vincit amor." Indeed, love does conquer all, even the hateful rhetoric of Glen Beck and the toxic waste of the GOP. And let us say, amen.
Bryan D. Freehling
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Sergeant Robert Fiske, treasurer, Tisbury Police Relief Association.
On behalf of the students and staff at the Tisbury School, thank you for the generous contribution made by the Tisbury Police Relief Association. This will be used towards the purchase of new recess and playground equipment that will be enjoyed by all.
Your continued support of our school is appreciated. We are proud and fortunate to share such a relationship with your group, which has done so much for our students.
Once the new equipment arrives, we will invite you to come by to see the students playing with it. You are always welcome to come join the kids.
To the Editor:
The West Tisbury School celebrated Student Harvest Week with a fabulous taste testing. The foods presented highlighted crops grown in our school garden. All children, preschool through grade eight, participated.
There was a huge assortment of breads to taste, including pesto, zucchini, carrot, garlic, pumpkin and corn. We also tasted squash soup, pesto pasta, applesauce, herbs, greens, fresh apples, as well as green and purple beans picked that morning in the garden. We even had our own blight-free tomatoes. There were autumn olive smoothies and mint iced tea to drink. All plates and cups were composted in the garden. The compost bin was built by last year's fifth grade.
My greatest pleasure was seeing every single one of our West Tisbury School children being incredibly polite, thankful, and happy as they tried locally grown foods prepared in so many ways.
Thank you to staff, parents, and kids who made the event possible. Also thank you to Debbie Farber of Blackwater Farm and the Magnusons of Tiasquam Orchard for their generous farm donations.
Answering your Y questions
To the Editor:
It is with great appreciation that we thank the many Vineyarders who have already supported the YMCA of Martha's Vineyard's charter membership sales this month. We are happy to be offering this limited membership and feel that it is a great benefit to Island families.
There have been many questions regarding the details of our charter membership that we would like to clarify. Firstly, this membership offers exclusive benefits not only to families but to households. This includes grandparents age 62 and over, children and grandchildren under the age of 22, and their parents all living in the same home.
Each charter household will also receive 10-day passes to share with houseguests throughout the year, a distinctive membership card, a pool towel, and their name on the lobby plaque, as well as recognition in the newspaper.
Additional benefits include priority registration for programs, exclusive use of the facility one week prior to the grand opening, and a fixed rate for two additional years if the membership is renewed at the charter level. We understand that paying the $1,250 in one lump sump may be difficult for some, but this allows you to avoid a monthly bank draft fee, and as an extra incentive, we're even waiving the joiner's fee for charter members.
Full family and individual rates will be available after the New Year, but keep in mind that a family membership will only include adults and children (not grandparents and grandchildren). At that time, those members of the family will be invited to join at a senior or youth level. Our charter membership is the best way for your whole family to enjoy the fullest use of our facility and programs.
Charter memberships are limited, but are an integral part of our revenue that will allow us to open our doors on time and fully staffed. We are eager to be able to provide our programs to the full Island community in our brand-new facility. With construction in full swing and scheduled for completion in spring of 2010, we not only need your financial support, but also your support as a member. Please call or stop by our office at 31 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven (next to the ArtCliff Diner) with any further questions, or visit us online at www.ymcamv.org to become a charter member today.
With sincere gratitude,
Interim Executive Director
YMCA of Martha's Vineyard