Letters to the Editor
Favors simple Menemsha
To the Editor:
Regarding the article on Menemsha insurance, I'm glad the fishermen got together and persuaded the other two selectmen to do away with that proposal. I am also glad to read that former selectman Jon Mayhew is running for selectman. I've known Jon since the swordfishing days and find him to be one of the most honest, upstanding young men I know. Congratulations. Also, I do hope the new harbor emporium can be nixed as well. I've seen how harbors up and down the coast have been ruined by too much building. Simplicity is a wonderful thing. Thank you.
A duty to preserve
To the Editor:
Chilmark selectman Frank Fenner and Riggs Parker and the MV Times reporter Steve Myrick, who has been emphasizing the lot fees in Menemsha, just don't get Menemsha.
Menemsha is the model that other harbors should look at to preserve their fishing communities. Frank has been telling everyone that we should consider ourselves lucky to have what we have. We do appreciate what we have. That's why we fight so hard to keep it. What we have is a direct result of generations of commercial fishermen and good town leadership before us having the foresight to preserve this gem.
I am a holder of a lot lease that was held by other commercial fishermen in the past. I will do everything I can to see that a commercial fisherman follows me. I owe that to my predecessors. As a community, it is our duty to preserve this fishing community for generations to come.
A lesson in impossible obligations
To the Editor:
It was a pleasure to attend the meeting and hearing moderated by the Oak Bluffs finance committee on March 4. The agenda was well prepared, and the discussion continued on point. It was a particular pleasure to have in attendance each and every department head and chief of activity, that they might hear and be heard, as to their plans and expectations in conjunction with their proposals for the town budget for fiscal year 2011.
Each and every department head and chief of activity in their proposals included requests or overrides, totaling $847,000. While no specific proposal sounded unreasonable, it became apparent that these override requests resulted from an accumulation of various items of expense, all added little by little over time when economic times were good and revenues adequate. Notably, compensation agreements were arranged with groups of employees to include salary and benefits consistent with the times in an atmosphere of a generous town in a bountiful environment.
But the times did not live up to the expectations. The economy sagged, precipitously in many cases, with many incomes frozen despite the optimistic expectations at the time. So we are beset with two groups of fellow citizens: those who are expected to provide for well-meaning and expectant compensation agreements, and those who would expect to continue to enjoy their well-meaning but now difficult If not Impossible agreements. It now becomes essential to arrive at a meeting of the minds under current economic conditions, in fairness to all participants.
It must be remembered that all the foregoing discussion refers only to the town's operating budgets. An additional and most important element to bear in mind is the town's history of indebtedness. Over numerous years a long-term debt has accumulated in the amount of $26,050,000, for which we pay in interest about $648,000 annually. Nowhere to be seen is any serious effort to pay off this debt, which had it been paid off, the interest would have been nearly sufficient to pay for all the increase items now being requested.
It is to be hoped that those involved in the operations and financing of the town will exercise the utmost of economies, in fairness to those who must meet such obligations, and that arrangements and contracts to become effective in the future will include conditions and escape clauses so as to avoid entrapment into impossible and unfair conditions.
John M. Boardman
Is it just me?
To the Editor:
Is there anyone else out there, in the vicinity of the Goodale Construction Co., who feels that the shooting at that site in the sandpit every weekend, Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, year-round, weather permitting, is a quality of life issue?
Is this a matter of legal, safety, and noise problem? If so, please join me in writing to voice your opinion to any and all of the following: the Oak Bluffs Police Department, the Oak Bluffs selectmen, or the newspapers. And just to set the record straight, I am not anti-gun nor anti-hunting, but we do have the Rod and Gun Club in Edgartown for those who are enthusiasts. I'm just tired of being subjected to the noise pollution on my day off.
A difficult decision to step back
To the Editor:
I am writing to let you know of an important decision I have made. I have decided to step down as director of programming for the Safe Haven Project, which holds an annual camp on the Island for kids with HIV. After 16 years of dedication to the mission of Safe Haven, I have found it necessary to step back and continue my service in a different direction. This decision was a difficult but necessary one for me personally and comes with a mix of sadness and excitement for the next chapters in my commitment to making a difference in the world. All things must pass, they say, and this is yet another example.
I am grateful for the years of support I have received as we have brought this program to the Island. To all my friends who joined the cause due to their support of my efforts, I truly thank you and appreciate your dedication and support. I hope you will continue to join me in other areas I become involved in, especially as I work to help improve the lives of our very own Island kids.
I am a lucky man to live in this community. From the early days of Wintertide, to Safe Haven, and onward into the future, I know that together we can continue to make a difference, and I hope you will continue to join me in those efforts. My heartfelt thanks to you all.
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to President Obama, Sen. Kerry, Sen. Brown, and Rep. Delahunt:
In an effort to end poverty, war, and unhappiness, I call on you to end the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to address our economic and environmental crises by cutting military spending by 25 percent in 2010, and redirecting our tax dollars to housing, health care, education, green jobs, and clean energy.
Only a few weeks to wait for the Y
To the Editor:
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all who attended the open house for the YMCA last Saturday. With more than 300 community members walking through the facility, it is clear how excited we all are, knowing the doors of our Y will open in merely a matter of weeks.
One could not have conjured up a more enthusiastic crowd consisting of young children, teenagers, adults, and seniors all anxious to have questions answered and sneak a peek at the progress of construction.
We are encouraging Islanders to sign up now for membership and avoid the long waits that we surely anticipate as we move closer to opening day. In addition to signing up, there is an opportunity to double your donation to our scholarship fund so that individuals and families who may not be able to afford the Y will not be excluded from the valuable programs and facilities that will be offered to enrich the lives of so many.
There is another open house scheduled for March 27, when you will find lockers in the locker rooms, cabinets on the walls, tile on the floors and water in the pool.
Thank you for fueling our success with your overwhelming enthusiasm and support.
For the Y
A hollow spot in the heart
To the Editor:
My cousin Mark worked with us at Lola's for the last four years. He never got over the loss of his wife Nancy, five years ago. He came to us and was soon busy as our overall general manager. He had a penchant for unraveling details like employee scheduling, staff tip-outs or customer relations.
If you needed reservations for the Allen Sister Sunday brunch special table, requests for King Paul's blowtorch birthday serenades, or a wedding rehearsal table of 22 next Friday, Mark was the guy to talk to.
In November, Lola and I were driving down to Key West to be with Mark for Thanksgiving. The night before he called from his son's house in Cleveland and said he was catching a later flight. He wasn't feeling so hot. The next day, Sunday, Nov. 22, young Mark Sertich called. His dad had passed on.
Friends and family gathered and we put Mark Sertich to rest next to Nancy in Key West.
There is a big hollow spot in our hearts as we think about the great time we had with "the guy with the tie," who was always there with a chuckle and a great big smile.
"Can you hear me now?"
Paul and Lola Domitrovich
Hidden beauty of wind energy
To the Editor:
The eye of the beholder, that's where they say the beauty lies. Maybe this is why the conundrum of wind energy being wrangled within our Island newspapers and email threads has no apparent clear answer.
There is a small group of people on the Island adamantly opposed to generating electricity from wind power in any form. There are people in favor of Cape Wind, as well as people against it. There are also now a large number of Islanders who have joined Vineyard Power to ostensibly be part of an Island cooperative that would, in the end, provide clean, inexpensive electricity from its own offshore wind turbines to its members.
More people tend to be in favor of wind power if they have something to gain from it. This is where the missing link hides. We don't see the effects of our current electricity use. It comes to us on a cable and we use it at our whim. We don't see the mountain that was literally removed to provide the coal that was then hauled to other Massachusetts coastal communities that feed our underwater electrical cable. We all suffer the ramifications of the coal, oil, and gas industries whether we notice or not.
The hidden costs of fossil fuels are immense. Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., according to a recent National Research Council report. Climate-related monetary damages cost taxpayers as much as 10 cents per kilowatt hour and non-climate-related damages from these pollutants cost an additional 3.2 cents, according to the report.
Most Islanders don't think about the four 23 kilovolt underwater cables that are our umbilical chord to the mainland. Most Islanders don't see the temporary generators housed in semi-trailers and pulled up next to our electrical substations to provide auxiliary power during the summer. The benefits of electricity generated from the wind can't be seen, but they are real. We all have something to gain from wind energy, even a neighbor's small turbine.
We are at a crossroads with our energy needs. We refuse to use less energy and hesitate to generate more, yet our increasing population and insatiable demand requires that we do just that. Wind energy will in fact keep us from increasing our carbon output, which is expected to rise here on the Vineyard from 329,000 tons to 457,000 tons, according to the Island Plan, if we continue our current dirty energy practices. Imagine our Island electric grid like a large colander into which we pour water. We pour electricity in from the top and it comes streaming out little holes in the bottom. Each one of these little holes represents a residence or business. When we plug one of these holes with a residential wind generator we slow down the need for more from the top. If we add our own offshore wind generation, we are filling the colander with our own water. Both scenarios help prevent the need for additional generation and additional cables to the mainland.
Facts are what we need. Like the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy's "20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report" found CO2 emissions would be reduced by over 825 million tons in the year 2030 alone, an amount equal to 25 percent of all electric sector carbon dioxide emissions in that year - the equivalent of taking 140 million cars off the road. What we don't need at this crucial crossroads is to spread fear of renewable energy by flooding the opinion columns with hearsay from dubious sources.
When Islanders stretch for reasons to condemn wind energy by looking for the bad, we fail to see the good. When we talk about sound and health effects from turbines that are either offshore so far as to be inaudible or too small to be detrimental, we miss out on opportunities to see the positive side of wind energy. When we complain about hearing a wind turbine or seeing a new profile on the horizon because we are so focused on hearing only that sound or seeing only that profile, we fail to hear the distant sounds of the ocean and we ignore the sound of our children's cries for a brighter future.
But when we see the beauty of a turbine spinning quietly in the distance or humming along in our neighbor's yard, we know that it is providing clean energy for all of us and we can see a brighter tomorrow, and all can feel pride in doing our part to make it possible. Therein lies the beauty.
Gary Harcourt is the owner of Great Rock Wind Power of Vineyard Haven, an advocate and builder of residential wind energy systems.