Letters to the Editor
A wild place, but near
To the Editor:
Travel and other commitments have hindered my keeping up to date with the MV Times, so I'm just now discovering Deke Ulian's letter of February 4. A beautifully rendered description of Nantucket Sound anchors his criticisms of the proposed wind farm on the basis of economic factors. Nearly two months after Deke wrote his letter and a day after the last public hearing on the project, we are promised the Secretary of Interior's decision in April.
I deeply oppose this project, and I can readily list dozens of reasons why, all of which have been well presented in different forums; but Deke's description of Nantucket Sound suggests one compelling reason that I think has had too little notice: the experience of those who are actually on her waters.
Nantucket Sound is unique and a treasure, a body of water that is open to anyone who can take even a small boat among her waves and currents.
I have sailed much of the East Coast north of Virginia, and one of the extraordinary qualities of Nantucket Sound is that the sailor of a small boat can get beyond the sight of land, totally apart from the land bound experience, surrounded only by the beauty and challenges of wind, waves, and tide, yet still in a relatively protected and safe sound with nearby ports in every direction.
I wouldn't sail my little 21-foot sailboat truly offshore, not beyond the sight of land, but I don't hesitate to sail all of Nantucket Sound that offers expansiveness and wildness that cannot be found elsewhere on the East Coast.
I grew up sailing on Long Island Sound using the smokestacks of power plants as easy landmarks. And there is, I admit, a certain wonder about sailing west on Long Island Sound with the silhouette of New York City's skyline etched against the setting sun; but there is no wonder at all about sailing down the middle of Long Island Sound at night with the lights of Rte 95 illuminating the skyscape to the north, accompanied by the deep and throbbing rumble of truck traffic.
I have thoroughly enjoyed days and weeks of sailing on Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and off the Coast of Maine, and there is a tremendous amount of beauty on all those waters. But nothing comes close to what Nantucket Sound offers those who sail, power, or even ferry across her waters.
And so, I echo Deke Ulian's final words: Let Nantucket Sound live.
Save the sound
To the Editor:
Nantucket Sound, once it's gone, it's gone forever. Think about that for a minute. Nantucket Sound - not only is this beautiful body of water a public natural treasure of the Cape and islands, but it is also culturally and spiritually a home for the Wampanoag tribes. One has to wonder why this ugly debate of preservation or industrialization continues, but it does.
Now, more than ever, is the time to take a stand and let the federal government know that the beauty of Nantucket Sound should not be destroyed by a private developer. A private - wealthy - developer who will get even richer from the government subsidies, funded by our tax dollars, which will be thrown his way if this project is approved.
Together, we need to have our voices heard one more time to help save Nantucket Sound
Rebecca S. Everett
Embrace the new technology
To the Editor:
While listening to Bill Moyers interview Jane Goodall the other night about her view of the world, I could not help but think of the straw vote at the Chilmark board of appeals, denying Granville and Lynne White permission to install a five-kilowatt turbine (a small wind turbine) on their 63-acre piece of land.
Goodall talked of her work with chimpanzees and their similarity to our species. She talked further about our unique abilities to think abstractly and to use our minds in ways that are beyond that of other species. She said that since the Industrial Revolution, we have been using the earth in such a way as to participate in our own demise, and she marveled, given our special cognitive abilities, at our denial of this trend.
She talked about her own efforts to keep species alive and celebrate others who are doing so, despite the mounting evidence of a sixth extinction of the earth's species. She talked about standing on some cliffs in Greenland watching as huge icebergs broke up and melted into the sea while the Inuit people who were watching with her had tears streaming down their cheeks.
We need to all do our parts to ensure the health of the Island and earth for future generations. We need to get beyond our fear of the unknown and our desire for everything to stay the same and look at the challenge of how to leave the Island and earth in good shape, while at the same time providing the energy that we all want to be able to use freely.
These smaller turbine projects and solar arrays are just a beginning and a way to get the community engaged in generating the power that we need. They pave the way for the larger scale efforts in both the efficiency and renewable generation that are needed to meet our Island's energy demand in a sustainable way. We don't have a lot of time to meet this challenge. Instead of slowing the process, we need to work together to find ways to embrace new technologies, while keeping values such as the beauty of our Island in mind. We need to stop thinking small and instead think expansively about the Island and earth's future and do things that will serve our children and our children's children and beyond.
We should applaud people like Granville and Lynne, who want to do something to help instead of turning them away and hoping that some big thing will come along to solve the earth's problems. And we should applaud planning boards such as in Oak Bluffs, for their efforts to encourage wind generation in their town.
Every solar array, every wind turbine, every efficiency project that is done now is a ray of hope. Each of these efforts is a gesture of caring for the future of the Island and the earth and is in that way so beautiful.
Technology Fair, a learning experience
To the Editor:
I would like to thank the Oak Bluffs Library, the MV Library Association, and The Martha's Vineyard Times for putting on the Technology Fair Saturday. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot believe how much I learned. I consider myself to be fairly tech savvy, but there are so many new developments that it's hard to stay on top of it all. The fair was a wonderful learning opportunity that provided some very useful business information and resources.
I want to especially let the Oak Bluffs Library know that when I get my quarterly tax bill, it's usually the library that I think of when I wonder what services I get from my town. The Technology Fair was time and money well spent. Thank you to all who contributed to it.
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to Rep. John Boehner. Yesterday was a very sad day for the Republican Party.
I grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, where my father was a general practitioner of Republican persuasion. When I received my MD degree in 1973 in Cincinnati, Richard Nixon was in the White House developing a plan for national health coverage. My classmates and I, and my father, felt strongly that such a plan should exist to make health care available to all Americans.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party lost its vision and gave in to selfish interests and extreme right wing sentiments.
Since 1973, I have worked in a medical system that has diminished patients and doctors alike and has made our public health statistics the laughing stock of the developed world.
The Republican Party is largely responsible and has betrayed its traditions and the country, and you seem to be a major example of this betrayal.
What's more, recently you have encouraged oafish conduct among your constituents.
Please change your ways and your vision. If you look back into the traditions of Republicanism, you will find just cause to care for your fellow Americans and support legislation that reduces human suffering.
Recently in Massachusetts, where I practice, we have enjoyed a system that makes health care available to everyone, and the feeling among my patients is of great relief. Sure, there is red tape, but people who have been too poor to seek medical care are now coming in for problems long neglected. Please visit Massachusetts and see how a compassionate approach works.
You, Mr. Boehner, are the one who should be ashamed of your opposition to helping your fellow Americans. I am sure the history books will look upon your leadership with sadness and ridicule.
What will we do?
To the Editor:
Just a few thoughts regarding The Oak Bluffs selectmen pushing for a meals/lodging tax increase.
What happens if we have a particularly wet, grey cold summer or an August hurricane like Bob in 1991 and not as many people visit the island? Where will the revenue shortfall come from?
Since Edgartown is not imposing the tax increase, can any of the Selectmen tell me how this will make us more competitive as a town?
When the selectmen mention that 80 towns in Massachusetts have already adopted the new taxes, they should also mention that none of those 80 towns has recently imposed outrageous sewer taxes on lodging and restaurant establishments. My personal bill went from $20,000 to $45,000 for construction of the plant. Several other lodging and restaurant establishments saw that same bill go upwards of $100,000. Those same businesses also pay a higher per gallon fee for wastewater then the rest of the wastewater users. If you don't believe me, call the Oak Bluffs Wastewater Department. I've written about this a couple of times, and I'm sure the wastewater commissioners would have replied if I were in error.
There has been a decline in lodging establishments in Oak Bluffs. The Sea Spray, Four Gables House, Herring Run House, The Island House, and Oak House have stopped renting nightly in the past few years. The Surfside is changing into condos. If The Wesley sells, it most likely will be some kind of condo. If this trend continues, where will the revenue shortfall come from? Also, most of those houses are still available for weekly rental, which is not taxed, once again putting licensed/taxpaying lodging establishments at a disadvantage.
The only way to tax weekly rentals is a change of state law. A good first step toward that would be a non-binding resolution that could be on the ballot asking the state for it. Maybe that should be on the agenda for the next All-Island Selectmen's Association meeting. Then encourage Nantucket and Cape Cod towns. That is real leadership that will truly help our town.
And see, I can write a letter that is not about public beach access, that doesn't close with "end beach apartheid."
To the Editor:
Our West Tisbury second-grade fundraiser was a huge success on March 20. We would like to thank Stop & Shop, Cronig's, State Road Restaurant, and Chilmark Chocolates for their generous donations. And thank you to everyone else who donated items and to all the parents and staff members of the West Tisbury School, who put their time and energy into making our yard and bake sale a success. Thanks so much.
Sibel Suman and Kathy Tackabury
To the Editor:
Your otherwise excellent article on beer and wine regulations fails to clarify a crucial point. The upcoming vote authorizes selectmen to grant an unlimited number of seasonal licenses. The wording of the ballot question obscures this, creating the impression that no more than 19 restaurants may be licensed. However, at Tuesday night's meeting to discuss the regulations, selectmen said the 19 figure applies only to year-round restaurants and that there is no cap on seasonal licenses.
As Tristan Israel stated in your article, "Nineteen licenses is a very high number for a town of our size." Yet we are now voting to grant selectmen the power to license many more than that.
Due to building codes and other restrictions, dozens of restaurants won't instantly qualify for licenses, nor will selectmen grant them - now. But as the economy improves and the landscape of Vineyard Haven changes, there is nothing to prevent them from doing so. And there will be strong pressure to issue licenses, from landlords, new restaurant owners, and developers.
Many residents wish to support the year-round restaurants that are here and give a boost to town commerce with a reasonable number of licenses. But the April 27 ballot opens the door to a very different outcome - a seasonal town, where new restaurants have driven up rents and displaced existing businesses, leaving year-round residents with a Main Street that is even quieter and more limited in its retail choices than now.
New Businesses, new jobs
To the Editor:
The Island Plan supplied with last week's paper was a great asset in understanding what the Martha's Vineyard Commission's plans are.
They explain that, "We need to moderate and better manage growth." But they also carefully explain that 36 percent of all Vineyard land is already protected open space. Does everyone understand this? More than one-third of the total Vineyard land, including wetlands, is already protected. Since this is true, how much more moderation and management do we need?
We are already fighting an uphill battle to control housing costs. The more land that is protected, the higher land values will become, since less and less will be available for development. It will also be more difficult to attract new business to the Island, for the same reason.
Since so much of our Island is already protected, we need to do our best to attract new business. Clearly the amount of work for tradesmen is going to decrease, since fewer and fewer new homes can be built here. So we need more and different working opportunities for Islanders, especially for our children who grew up here and would prefer to stay here.
This should be the Martha's Vineyard Commission's first priority right now: attract new businesses and provide new jobs.