Letters to the Editor
Strategy for wind
To the Editor:
After the recent hearing, and learning what others are doing and thinking regarding the state plan to locate at Nomans Land, already designated by the federal government as a bird sanctuary, and Cuttyhunk, up to 166 turbines over 450 feet high, generating enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes, the following thoughts occur.
While I am concerned - even terrified - about global warming and strongly believe that alternative energy sources to fossil fuels must be generated, I want to be able to support and be guided by scientific and economic based strategies, to evaluate the relative viability of renewable alternatives, including wind.
Maybe I was asleep at the switch, but it seems to me that the state plan to site these large commercial wind farms solely in our front yard appeared out of nowhere like a summer storm. Oh yes, I was aware of the Cape Wind project, but not the latest state plan.
I first want to applaud the governor and his staff for placing this critically important issue front and center. Notwithstanding, it seems to me that in many ways both the Oceans Act and the proposed sitings require improvement.
In the case of the act, it needs to be amended to assure that criteria of concern to us are included, including vistas and economic impact, and, of vital concern, that the Martha's Vineyard Commission must have final approval, with appeals from its determinations going to the courts, not to a politically appointed siting board.
In the case of the proposed plan, in order to inspire confidence, there must be meaningful consultation with the Wampanoag tribe, and local Vineyard concerns, including Vineyard bird experts, local fishing interests, as well as analyses of the project's environmental and economic impacts. No plan that exempts Nantucket as a possible site because of its birds and then targets the federal wildlife preserve of Nomans Land for such a purpose can be credible. The latest delay in the Cape Wind project for failure to consult with the Wampanoag tribe shows the importance of not missing this vital step.
Our neighboring states, Maine and Rhode Island, have gone about these issues differently. Maine has set up a legislative energy task force to study and report back, and Rhode Island is conducting a two-year study with the Oceanography Department of the University of Rhode Island to identify the best locations. We, on the other hand, have gone directly to the creation of comprehensive ocean management legislation. Perhaps our plan would have more buy-in had it been preceded by comprehensive study similar to Maine and Rhode Island before going directly to this legislation.
What to do about it? Let Vineyarders decide.
It is critical to require turbines to be located where most propitious, following consultation with the Wampanoag and following a process that inspires confidence because of its inclusionary and broad-gauged criteria that not only optimizes the utility of the wind farm, but minimizes the collateral damage to the environment, fish, birds, vistas, adverse economic impact, etc.
It is also critical to require any state plan that affects the Vineyard to obtain approval of the Martha's Vineyard Commission and that any appeals go to the courts.
In order to achieve these objectives, it will be necessary to organize and act in concert - something Vineyarders don't always do well - but is vital here.
While many groups and individuals have already spoken out, I have felt the need for the existence of overarching entity to make sure that all relevant expertise necessary for Vineyarders to participate meaningfully at the table is available.
All concerned who agree with the thrust of this appeal are cordially invited to attend a meeting to be held at the Chilmark Community Center, at 7 pm, Tuesday, October 20.
At that time, a proper organization can be created; goals, strategies and tactics can be discussed and, with sufficient support, implemented.
Shocked by state action on wind turbines
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
I was shocked to learn that the state considers Martha's Vineyard to be an appropriate site for offshore massive wind turbines. The same state recognizes the value of protecting the Cape Cod National Seashore, understanding that people will be disinclined to sit on its beaches within sight of an industrial turbine plant, peppered with 40-story-high steel structures, with lights and massive steel blades, hardly conducive to enjoying the natural ocean views.
So, why do you not recognize Martha's Vineyard as an equal treasure for all of the people?
Why do you ignore the fact that Nomans Land is a federally protected wildlife refuge and choose instead to exploit our nearshore waters? Why did you recognize the value of protection for Martha's Vineyard by establishing by law the Martha's Vineyard Commission, only to now say you can overturn its jurisdiction to protect this Island whenever you decide it is to be exploited instead?
Martha's Vineyard is world-renowned for its natural beauty, and the essence of that is its wild and natural offshore waters. Incredibly, you choose this site to place hundreds of manmade, skyscraper-high turbines with a site distance of 26 miles, to be seen all the way across the South Shore to Edgartown and around the west and north to Menemsha and beyond. So federal and state plans now include turbines off our northeast shores in Nantucket Sound, west and south, to be expanded whenever you choose to do so. Historical and cultural sites are to be ignored as are the Gay Head Cliffs, a geological treasure known worldwide.
How can you choose to blight one of, if not the most, beautiful areas on the East Coast, when I am sure you can find windy areas which are already industrial and closer to the mainland. And what about less intrusive technologies to be explored such as wave technology, already being studied by Edgartown and Nantucket? Deep water technology is available, also.
Our economy and our livelihoods are nurtured by our natural surroundings, not to mention our souls.
Beverly L. Burke
Thanks, and a promise, from the water department
To the Editor:
The Oak Bluffs Water District thanks all those departments and individuals who assisted us with the recent DEP-imposed boil order and especially the Oak Bluffs selectmen, town administrator Michael Dutton, emergency management coordinator Peter Martell, board of health chairman Shirley Fauteux, the Oak Bluffs Police and Fire Departments, and many more.
We have learned a great deal from this situation and, more specifically, we now realize that the Water District, as well as other departments in Oak Bluffs, do not have the ability to contact their customer base at large, whether it be water, sewer, school families, seniors or other groups.
The Commissioners and staff are committed to working with the town to ensure that in the very near future, all departments of Oak Bluffs will be able to utilize the Reverse 911 calling system for notification of any incident that may need citizen awareness.
And most importantly, a sincere thank you to all the Oak Bluffs Water District customers for having to cope with this situation.
Raymond Moreis Jr.
Oak Bluffs Water Commissioners
To the Editor:
It was with increasing outrage and anger that I read your story on the Oak Bluffs water contamination, as it illustrates the utter lack of accountability of our public officials. Everybody "followed protocol" yet it turns out that a local restaurant most effectively communicated this public health danger.
Instead of spending our tax dollars on excessive town hall staff, fire engine museums, unmarked police cars, mobile command centers, motorcycles, and a public safety vessel that serves no purpose other than to provide joyrides on fireworks night, why isn't a reverse 911 communication system in place?
Furthermore, why does the water department have a separate management structure and billing system? Why hasn't this inefficiency and duplication been eliminated as a cost saving measure?
I speak for numerous Oak Bluffs citizens when I state that I have no confidence these individuals could protect the public in the event of a more serious emergency.
Who is supervising?
To the Editor:
In response to the letter regarding the kayaks at Little Bridge, there is, in my opinion, a definite threat to the shoreline in regards to the number of kayaks being rented there. There is also an issue as to recycling, in regards to the two food establishments that currently use the area during the summer. There doesn't seem to be any recycling done with the waste from the stands - two at Little Bridge, one at Big Bridge. I do not understand this. I know I make an effort to bring my recyclables to the town facility each week. There's a lot of waste there.
Also, during the years, I have watched with interest the goings-on at the Little Bridge with regards to the two stands. If you go back a bit, the agreement was that one stand would sell hot dogs, soda, chips, ice cream. And the other stand was to sell frozen lemonade as its main product along with hot dogs, water, chips. What happened? This year, after repeated visits and being told that there was no lemonade, I finally gave up. What happened to the aforementioned agreement, in regards to the products that are being sold at these stands? This does not make any sense.
It seems that things are changed without any supervision from the town. And now, it would appear that one of the stands is being sold to the kayak business. If so, what is being sold at this stand next year?
Shouldn't this be a town issue?
J. C. Ellis
Sad to see it go
To the Editor:
Having followed the work of Bridge Housing from its outset, I was saddened to learn that its seven-year effort has ended.
In 2002, when the group was formed, I was a member of the Tisbury finance and advisory committee. I wanted to know more about their project to create affordable housing and how it would affect the town's finances. To learn more about the project, I talked to Bridge Housing members, attended Tisbury planning board meetings and later appeared before the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
At the MVC meeting, I said that I did not know too much about Bridge Housing's house building skills, but in knowing some of their members, I could attest to their character. I mentioned what J.P. Morgan, the great financier, had once said, on being asked what he looked for when lending money. Morgan answered that he looked for two things: Could the borrower pay him back, and what was the character of the borrower. If the character was good, he would be paid back. Character was very important to J.P. Morgan. I concluded, by stressing the sound character of the members of Bridge Housing.
It spite of all its hard work, over a number of years, Bridge Housing finds it must sadly end its efforts to create affordable housing on its 14.8 acres off State Road in Tisbury. As Dale Julier, in her letter to the Editor (MV. Times 10/1/09) so aptly states, "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."
I hope that someone comes forward to save the property for affordable housing. If the Island Housing Trust or the Island Affordable Fund can use their influence to save this property from foreclosure - then perhaps some developer could come forward and build affordable housing here for Vineyard families.
The tide has now gone out for Bridge Housing, but let's hope that the tide will return shortly and someone will fulfill the goals of Bridge Housing.
String music program threatened
To the Editor:
An important education program in the Martha's Vineyard School system is being targeted for dramatic cuts in the proposed MVYPS shared services budget for next year, which will be voted on soon by the all-Island school committee.
The all-Island elementary string program is a small program, but one with a large impact. It currently serves approximately 200 children in five Island elementary schools, including weekly lessons for each child in violin, viola, cello, or bass, as well as beginning, elementary, and junior high orchestras. Over the past 10 years, nearly 600 elementary school students have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn a string instrument and to work cooperatively with other students to make music in an orchestral setting.
This wonderful music education program is made possible by a small but dedicated staff consisting of one full-time teacher, a half-time teacher, and a part-time piano accompanist. The superintendent has proposed to severely cut the string music program to only one teacher, completely eliminating the half-time string teacher and accompanist.
The proposed cuts will have a substantial impact on music education in our elementary schools. The string music program is already under-funded and oversubscribed. It has grown from 76 students 10 years ago to approximately 200 today, strong evidence of the enthusiasm that this program inspires and of the desire of Island children for string music education. If the proposed cuts are enacted, string music education will no longer be available to all interested students, and it seems likely that some students currently in the program will be told that they cannot continue.
Why should we care whether our students have this opportunity to learn a string instrument and play in an orchestra? We care because music, like English, math, science, social studies, art, and athletics, is an important part of a complete, well-rounded education. Music, in particular, fosters creativity, cooperation, and discipline. For some children, music reaches them in ways that other subjects do not. Elementary school is the time when children are most receptive to learning, and hands-on exposure to music at this stage can initiate a lifelong appreciation of music, the universal language.
In these times of economic difficulty, the need to look carefully at school budgets (and other parts of town budgets) is understandable, and it is appropriate to propose some budget reductions. However, cuts in essential services, such as the education of our children, are shortsighted. Music is a critical part of elementary education, and should not be one of those areas considered for cuts.
It is time to stand up in support of maintaining the high quality of education in our schools. Please attend the meeting of the All-Island School Committee on October 22, at 7 pm, at the high school to express your view. Please urge your school committee members to vote for a MV public school shared services budget that maintains the string music program at its current level. Two hundred kids will thank you, in harmony.
Keep it going
To the Editor:
The Island string program is a very important part of my life. It helps me get through hard times and helps me learn. Better yet, it is fun. I believe that it is an essential part of the Island and our community. I think that we should keep it going.
Samuel Gary Graber-Hahn, 5th grade