Letters to the Editor
Good sense on limiting emissions
To the Editor:
Looking out from the magnificent expanse of the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah, one of the few visible structures is the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, located some 30 miles distant. The towers of the bridge stand 400 feet above mean sea level, the approximate height of the tower and blades of the current generation of large wind turbines. It is easy to understand why there is concern about impacts on scenic, natural and cultural resources from turbine development significantly closer to Martha's Vineyard.
The Vineyard should host such development in its wind-rich offshore environment, the argument goes, because fossil fuel use is changing the climate in dangerous ways. Wind power will help address the problem.
Indeed, Martha's Vineyard and coastal areas worldwide are particularly vulnerable to the impacts predicted by climate change models: increased drought, intensified and less predictable storm cycles, migration of destructive invasive species. The dilemma for the Vineyard is that, while global inaction on climate change will lead to dire impacts on land, habitats and species, the set of solutions being put forth to address the problem will have their own negative impacts on the local environment.
Prior to 1750, carbon dioxide levels measured 280 parts-per-million. Levels are currently around 389 ppm and rising. Scientists warn that a failure to stabilize that number well below 450 ppm will result in climate disaster. To avert that fate, over the next 50 years, nations must collectively avoid emitting about 200 billion tons of carbon (200 gigatons GtC).
A joint project sponsored by Princeton University has proposed a series of strategies and technologies dubbed "stabilization wedges" to achieve that goal by deploying eight activities or "wedges" that would each account for a 25 gigaton reduction of carbon.
Improving the efficiency of buildings and industry can provide three wedges. One wedge can come from consumers embracing energy conservation, another from making transportation more energy efficient. Ending tropical deforestation can yield two wedges. And one wedge can be contributed by wind power.
The hurdle for wind is that gaining a 25 GtC wedge of emissions savings will require a "scaling up" of the industry by a factor of about 30. Wind currently produces less than 1 percent of total global electricity, although it is growing fast. Approximately one million turbines of two megawatts in size would be required to make the wind "wedge." That translates into a sizable environmental footprint on land and water, leading to concerns about "energy sprawl" for a relatively limited return.
Time is another hurdle. Experts warn that immediate action is needed to reduce emissions, and scaling up wind will take time. Efficiency and energy conservation approaches can start immediately and offer an effective strategy for allocating limited resources to achieve carbon reductions now. And when wind turbine developments are proposed, the Vineyard should insist on linking local "community benefit" to strengthening the primary tool for actually combating global climate change - and that means money coming to the region to implement energy conservation and energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, equipment, and transportation systems.
We know that deployment of renewable energy systems in the Vineyard's wind-rich environment is likely because of the financial incentives that government has put into place to make wind development profitable. The challenge for residents, Island planners, legislators, and conservationists is to chart a course that allows us to do our part in saving the global environment without destroying the values that define the Vineyard's special character.
One way to do that is suggested in a new study of the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies. Completed three months ago by the Nature Conservancy and entitled "Energy by Design," it concluded: "The possibility of widespread energy sprawl increases the need for energy conservation, appropriate siting, sustainable production practices, and compensatory mitigation offsets. Avoid development when you can, minimize impacts when you can't, and compensate for those impacts that cannot be avoided."
Vineyard Conservation Society
The MVC and Gosnold
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the members of the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
We (Let Vineyarders Decide - LVD) are so pleased that the jurisdiction of the Martha's Vineyard Commission has been recognized relative to the waters off Nomans Land.
We are also pleased by the efforts of our local representatives to persuade Secretary Ian Bowles of the infirmities of the draft Oceans Act plan that placed a wind factory adjacent to the National Wildlife area of Nomans Land.
We are grateful that the Vineyard has been spared the cascading array of problems such a wind factory off Nomans would produce, regarding our economy, ecology, and spirituality.
But, shockingly, the Vineyard remains in peril. And why is that?
Because the state still plans to include the waters off Cuttyhunk in the town of Gosnold, County of Dukes County, as the sole remaining site for 100 percent of its commercial wind development.
Were that to happen, all ills previously discussed, including vistas, harm to migrating birds, adverse effects on fish and fisheries, navigation problems, adverse impact on our economy, and cultural and spiritual degradation would occur.
It is to avoid exactly such foreseeable consequences of poor development decisions that the Martha's Vineyard Commission was created.
But in this case there has been a disquieting silence by the MVC commissioners to assert jurisdiction and begin the process of leading us into a proper resolution of these matters.
Now is not the time to talk of mitigation of damages, now is the time to seek to avoid harm that would require mitigation.
To those who say it should be left to the 86 people who live in Gosnold to determine whether the MVC has a role to play, we 600-plus members of LVD, and, we're sure, the vast majority of Vineyarders say that while the 86 people of Gosnold should participate meaningfully in all considerations and have the full support and assistance of the MVC, they cannot and should not unilaterally make a decision of such magnitude for the Vineyard.
We read the statute creating the MVC as having conferred jurisdiction on it of the waters of Gosnold. We beseech you to exert your usual sound leadership to protect the Vineyard from irreparable harm it is uniquely in your power to prevent, while at the same time working closely with our neighbors in Cuttyhunk and elsewhere in Gosnold.
Please, Martha's Vineyard commissioners, vigorously lead us out of this peril.
Director, Let Vineyarders Decide
We must do better
To the Editor:
Come on people.
Come on people is a phrase recently used by the infamous and hysterically funny Bill Cosby to inspire a community to raise strong children and improve family values.
On a beautiful and glorious fall day recently, I observed an Island woman recovering from a tragic fall (now wheelchair-bound) trying very hard to enjoy shopping in Oak Bluffs on Circuit Avenue. While I waited in our car for my husband to finish a haircut, I was impressed with her dignity in spite of the fact that all eight of the stores she and her two friends stopped at she had to watch from the sidewalk. This was because each store had entry steps that made her wheelchair inaccessible.
I viewed her still smiling as each of the two women she was with brought goods (cards and trinkets) outside to ask for her approval. At one point she was in the exhaust fumes from a car whose occupant ran into an apartment above one of the stores and left his car running for about five minutes. During this time, she had to "pace' the sidewalk in her wheelchair to avoid breathing these fumes in.
Come on people-we can and should do better than this.
Is there a plan for this?
To the Editor:
So Thursday, Dec. 5, there is going to be a discussion about the Island Plan. I'm going, and of course I'm going to bring up West Tisbury's town park, Lambert's Cove.
The main premise of the Island Plan is about how Martha's Vineyard is a community, and we need to plan our future together for the betterment of all. So to anyone from West Tisbury who feels like commenting on any part of the Island Plan, I would ask that they please tell us how they personally feel about allowing walk-on public access to Lambert's Cove.
And please spare the rhetoric that it's a deeded beach and that the public is welcome after September. End beach apartheid.
To the Editor:
In regard to books that might be written to inform us of our future, several come to mind immediately:
Understanding Politics, by Pelosi
Tea Time for Terrorists, by Holder
Bowing to Oblivion, by you know who.
The list is endless, but this should be enough for now.
Norman B. Reed
Tax weekly rentals
To the Editor:
Due to the current financial boondoggle of the Island Affordable Housing Fund, i.e., it's failure to meet its commitments to the Regional Housing Authority for the Rental Assistance Program, an immediate reassessment of how CPA funds are allocated is in order. The IAHF not only proved itself a dishonest and manipulative bully to neighbors of some of their projects who had disagreements, but also wasteful of donated and taxpayer money and incestuous in financial benefit to its board members, including contractors, architects, realtors and participating banks.
There are many facts still to be uncovered but I will say, having been threatened by the old guard because of my letters against Bradley Square, that this fund will never have any philanthropic credibility until all the board members have been replaced in both IAHF and IHT. When the CPA tax was being debated and subsequently voted on, the consensus of the voter was that the fundamental reason for the Vineyard's participation in this additional property tax levy, which is basically a Proposition 2.5 override, was for resident housing purposes.
The most efficient and immediate program that supports Island residents, and therefore our year-round economy, has been and is the Rental Assistance Program. On the Vineyard the entire 80 percent potential allocation of CPA funds should go directly to the Regional Housing Authority for the sole purpose of funding the Rental Assistance Program, until rental subsidies for the current participants and existing wait list of an additional 85 families is met. The allocation of these funds should not be debated on a town by town basis, because on the Island people live where they can find housing not which town they choose to live in. We have not yet reached that level of luxury of choice.
I find it rather disgusting that many people in the housing debate seem to think that people who rent houses on a year-round basis through the Rental Assistance Program are doing as well as if they were renting weekly. This is far from true and diminishes the values and principals of the few who choose to be the exceptions to the norm.
It is about time the cause of the inflated value of resident housing and over development, with its costs and environmental issues, helped pay to correct the unsustainable situation it has created. The fact that the weekly rental, undoubtedly the largest part of the tourist accommodation business on the Cape and Islands, not only is responsible for the high cost of resident housing, but also generates no taxes to pay for the cost of infrastructure demands created by the tourist industry is more absurd than ever when you look at our current economic situation.
In the short term, all towns on the Island should institute a 50-percent resident exemption on property tax based on the town of Tisbury's current system with the caveat that summer residents should also be included. This would quickly and justifiably put a higher tax burden on the illegal commercial use of our residential neighborhoods, while we proceed to proper permitting of, inspecting of, and collecting of a rooms tax from, the transient rental businesses. The idea that the Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Cape have any financial problems while we live among commercial rentals priced from $2,000 to $50,000 per week is inexcusable.
While the residents suffer the consequences of years of inept governance, the realtors, tourists and luxury homeowners are stuffing their pockets with easy money by renting our Island out from under us. It is time to demand change, lest we leave a legacy to our children of "Land of the rich, home of the fool."
Donald N. Muckerheide
We'll miss her
To the Editor:
On Friday, November 20, a light went out at the Anchors. Cathryn Mancuso, the assistant director, has left the Edgartown Council on Aging to move on with her life. She is getting married and will be living in Providence. Our loss will be Rhode Island's gain.
Cathryn was the kind of person who would let you cry on one shoulder while pushing the other to the grindstone to find a solution for you. She was gentle, sweet, and efficient. Her kindness knew no bounds, and she truly cared about everyone who set foot in the center.
One of our requests, when she arrived six years ago, was for more programs. She filled our calendar with activities, and for this we thank her. She was like a ray of sunshine, always cheery. She will be sorely missed.
The Friends of the Edgartown Council on Aging wish her a boatload of happiness, and we hope she will return to visit whenever she can.
To the Editor:
A Letter to the Editor, entitled "A threat taken seriously" by Robby Bick appeared in The Times issue of November 19.
It is a must re-read because he totally freaks out speaking about so-called serious deadly threats and terrible unacceptable name-calling of Obama by Republicans. Then he states that the left never, ever did that to such an extent, not even in private, when Bush, Reagan or Nixon was in office.
Some things just must be simply replied to, because of their outrageousness, so I will simply reply to his letter by directing him and his followers to the following video entitled "Liberal media hypocrisy test" by Rachel Maddow, http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=yEr65ZX6gLw&feature=player_embedded .
To the Editor:
For years, December 8 has borne sadness in my heart, as it is the anniversary of the death of Beatle John Lennon. This year, I look to December 8 as a chance for progressive, community organizer Alan Khazei to win the Democratic primary for United States Senator. Who will you vote for on December 8?
Thanks to all
To the Editor:
Again this year, the Island community has rallied to support the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Minnesingers, at the annual auction which was held Saturday at the P-A Club. Many thanks to all the generous donors for the amazing auction items and to everyone who attended, including former Minnesinger parents.
Special appreciation goes to Jude Tucker, Joanne Lambert, and Cindy Roberts and the other Minnesinger parents who worked so hard pulling the event together and providing the sumptuous finger foods. Also thanks to the P-A Club staff for their assistance.
The Minnesingers will be representing the high school, their Island, and the U.S.A., performing in Prague in April, thanks to the generosity of the parents and community.
How views differ
To the Editor:
Janet Hefler's article regarding the dog controversy in Chilmark is a sensitive and balanced report of the matter. There are two inaccuracies that I would like to correct and several comments that I would like to make. The comments will perhaps underscore the differing points of view of this event.
The article reports that the dog officer said that Jim Morgan let his dog "run loose while he was working in the woods on a property near his house." In actuality, Jim was working in the yard of a house about two and a half miles from his home. It is in a totally different neighborhood, and although wooded is certainly not in the woods. The owner of the property was not at home and most certainly, if asked, would not have given permission for the dog to run loose in our neighborhood.
The second error is that our dogs were being walked on leashes on Pinkletink Road, a small dirt road abutting our property, with five homes. It was not on Prospect Hill Road, the major road in our association, which is also the connecting road to the Brickyard Association properties.
My first comment relates to Jim Morgan's comment, "It's a dog owner's worst nightmare. It's not our dog's fault. It's our fault."
No Jim, you are not experiencing a dog owner's worst nightmare. A dog owner's worst nightmare is to have a gentle, loving, playful beloved family pet torn apart before your eyes by a dog five or six times its size.
I would like to repeat that our concern is for public safety.
By Jim's honest admission, this dog has been allowed to run free and hunt and kill game. Our fear is that in the years to come, vigilance on the part of Maisy's owners will wane and that the dog will run free, by accident. In that situation the training will not matter, and another disaster may happen.
In closing, I would like to quote from a condolence letter we received from a neighbor. "The Morgans lost credibility when they allowed their dog to be unrestrained in our neighborhood."
Careful where you hunt
To the Editor:
This is a call to all hunters. Please be aware of your proximity to children when you are hunting.
I've found myself in several situations the past two days that have made me very wary of hunters' enthusiasm versus their common sense. In every situation I was close (within 500 feet) to homes and schools where children resided. Two of the instances involved me looking in one direction and seeing children on the playground and then turning slightly to see bright orange hunters in the other direction. Once the hunters were firing shotguns. Yikes.
This morning, as my kids were running to their bus stop, I thought about the shots I heard yesterday from what sounded like the wetland adjacent to our dirt road, and I questioned whether riding the bus was a good idea during deer season.
By all means hunt - families need the food, and the deer population needs to be thinned out - but please, please, please know where you are and use your common sense, especially around areas frequented by children. Our community thanks you.