Letters to the Editor
Not a normal night
To the Editor:
Monday night, Jan. 16, was just a normal night here in Chilmark; a roaring fire, alone at last and the perfect book. I remember 25 years ago hitching from the old Ag Hall, where they showed black and white movies. An ancient woman picked me up in her '51 Plymouth, and as we approached my house (at 25 miles per hour), and I described where she would be leaving me off, she said with disgust, "Oh, those ridiculous camps? We were all so furious when Lou King threw them up."
I said rather sheepishly, I love my house. On Monday in mid-book, I heard a roaring that made me wonder if they had moved the ocean closer. Ooh good, I thought. The value of my house is going up as I lie here reading.
I'm not much of an investigator. I kind of accept nature and whatever she throws my way. I don't worry much, and I don't get scared. I just figured, well, I didn't figure. Then a thumping, and then another thumping. Okay, okay, okay. I finally put the book down and went outside. And there were flames leaping out of the chimney.
This is a very long thank you note to all you guys who came. The firemen and the policemen arrived on the scene in less than four minutes. I am so grateful for your concern, your care, and your professionalism. I love my house, and I didn't need an almost tragedy to be reminded. But today, I am seeing everything with even more gratitude.
Nancy Slonim Aronie
Sticking up for dad
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter in regard to the recent decisions made behind closed doors by the Dukes County commissioners regarding the revoking and the removal of Jesse B. Law 3rd and Leslie Leland from their positions on the county airport commission.
Growing up with my father Jesse was a wonderful experience. My father taught me a tremendous amount about life and the way that you should conduct yourself as an adult.
I was taught if you have something to say, you say it - don't dilly around the situation. As I watched the airport commission meeting, I was glad to see Mr. Jason as well as Mr. Alley express their concerns - and I do respect their votes - even though they were against my father. They were, for the most part, honest and straightforward, which I have heard is hard for them. That is not the problem. The problem lies with the other members, Nelson Smith and Paul Strauss. These two originally voted to keep my father and Mr. Leland on the airport commission. I feel it was unfair and far from ethical that after the vote was made to keep these two men, who are not only qualified but volunteer time away from their families for this commission, that in a secret meeting they rescinded their appointments and I would like to know why.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Strauss had plenty of time (the previous three years, I do believe) to decide whether you were confident in these two appointees. So what changed overnight? Were you promised something? Were you pressured by fear of losing your own positions? I wonder if you looked up the most popular word in Webster's Dictionary online this past year. In case you did not, it was integrity, which I believe both of you do not possess. I feel that once a vote is made, it is made.
I also feel that the right decision was made with the appointing of Sean Flynn as the airport manager. He lives here and is committed to the Island, unlike your county manager who doesn't even live here. Mr. Flynn was the acting manager when William Weibrecht left and should be given the chance to be the manager. Mr. Flynn showed respect toward the airport commissioners that showed respect to him and worked very successfully to prove his ability.
I feel that some of the county commissioners are bullies and cowards. Upon observation, you vote out the people who have opinions and thoughts of their own and take a stand for themselves. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Changing a vote after it has been cast is not what the democratic process is.
I also have a question for Mr. Jason. You said the $13,000 spent on the airport manager search was wasted, seeing that the airport commission opted to hire Mr. Flynn. Are you as concerned about the more than $100,000 tax dollars lost because the county manager didn't get the fuel oil bids ready on time? I wonder.
I know when my father and Mr. Leland talk to the public and come home to their families they can hold their heads high. Can you? I am proud of my father. He does a lot, not only for his family, but also for the whole community. I do not know Mr. Leland very well, other than having been in his store, but hold your head up and be proud. You have done the right thing.
To those other airport commission members that resigned in my father's and Mr. Leland's support, I thank you. You showed integrity. You also showed the leftovers on the county commission that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
To whoever fills these five vacant seats on the airport commission, good luck and Godspeed, you'll need it, with who you have to work for.
To my dad, as always, I am very proud of you, love you, and I will always support you.
Olivia B. Law
Airport commission's action explained
To the Editor:
I would like to address two issues that need to be clarified regarding my recent removal by the Dukes County commissioners from the Martha's Vineyard airport commission.
The first issue deals with the Dukes County Commissioners. They said we, the airport commissioners, did not live up to an agreement made with them in June 2005. This particular agreement was made before the judgment issued by Judge Bohn in Dukes County Superior Court, in the lawsuit brought about by Sean Flynn, assistant airport manager and now manager, and William Weibrecht, former airport manager.
The agreement stated that when an airport manager was hired, he or she would be placed on the county compensation plan. The county agreed to pay the exact salary negotiated between the airport commission and manager.
This agreement became moot when the county lost the lawsuit. Judge Bohn's decision reaffirmed the sole statutory authority of the airport commission to hire and negotiate salaries with the airport manager and assistant manager. We exercised our authority reaffirmed by the judgment to the letter. The county commissioners failed to follow the process by choosing to ignore the judgment and, once again, not honor a contract negotiated in good faith by the airport commission with the new airport manager, Sean Flynn.
The second issue deals with county commissioner Lenny Jason. Mr. Jason publicly stated that the airport commission wasted $18,000 of taxpayers' money when we chose not to go along with the recommendations of the consulting group hired for the airport manager search. The actual amount spent was $13,000.
This money came directly from public funds which consist of F.A.A. funds, M.A.C. funds, fuel revenue, business park rent, car rental rent, etc. Not one dime came directly from Martha's Vineyard taxpayers. The $800,000 lawsuit judgment the county commissioners lost and continue to perpetuate does come directly from the pockets of Martha's Vineyard taxpayers. Enough said.
Jack Law is a member of the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission, but only technically. The county commissioners reappointed Mr. Law to the airport commission, then rescinded his reappointment a week later. He continues as a member until his successor is appointed.
The shed news
To the Editor:
I would like to register a complaint about the Chappy shed. The trash is not picked up regularly in the summer. The window has been broken, and the phone does not work. Kids smoke in there also.
And, I think that something should be done about having lights in Park and Ride at night. Windows have been broken because you can't see.
Everyone must obey
To the Editor:
The real story behind unpermitted construction on ecologically fragile land is that the Wetlands Protection Act is non-exclusive.
National, state, and local environmental regulations provide no special exemptions to violators due to their ignorance, negligence, or fundraising and donating capabilities.
It remains worthwhile to protest against the damaging actions of those who pose a fire threat to our neighborhoods and abuse our protected natural resources.
Elect a business-minded selectman
To the Editor:
It is time for the town of Tisbury to choose a new selectman. This year I hope voters will think carefully before filling this position. Tisbury selectmen need to be active and practical, yet imaginative, if they hope to help the town. With fewer boats coming into Vineyard Haven this summer, businesses will need to be more attractive than ever to visitors. Five Corners is still a bottleneck. The Beach Road has seen few improvements in attractiveness this year. If it were not for the Black Dog on the waterfront and the easy access to Stop & Shop, I think Vineyard Haven might be in trouble keeping people in town as they leave the ferry and/or shop. One-hour parking is more difficult for Vineyard Haven because the shopping area is spread out. Oak Bluffs is much more centralized for one-hour parking, and Edgartown is a beautiful town to spend unlimited time in. Vineyard Haven is not at the moment.
In the last two elections, voters had Jamie Douglas on the ballot, and he did not win. This year, if he runs, I hope that voters will realize that he is young, active, experienced and vitally interested in the future of Tisbury, particularly its waterfront, which has a long way to go to become attractive and drivable. Douglas was wisely endorsed by Doug Cabral last election. Would Vineyard Haven be able to prosper without the Black Dog and the present location of Stop & Shop and no liquor license for its restaurants? Voting for the most vigorous and intelligent business mind this election is vital for Tisbury voters. Let's not let Vineyard Haven lose its chance to go forward this year. Main Street used to be the Island's best shopping area, even in mighty lean years.
Roberta Hopkins Mendlovitz
To the Editor:
After the Island Trust's presentation of the development of the 150 State Road site at the Tisbury planning board public hearing on Jan. 11, 2006, I was distressed that the planning board did not raise certain concerns the developers failed to address. The apparent "coziness" between the developers and members of the planning board should alarm all town residents.
At no time was a traffic study requested. The proposed four (4) unit, eight (8) bedroom complexes envisioned by the Island Trust will have a significant effect on the already crowded State Road corridor. When my wife and I had our one-bedroom apartment, we both required a vehicle to commute to work. Are we looking at sixteen (16) vehicles onsite and entering and exiting the site every day? What about their visitors and the proverbial guest whom always shows up in the summertime to enjoy "summer on the Vineyard." What about when the new owners wish to have a party or a family gathering? Where are they going to park, along the shoulder of State Road causing more congestion for the intersection of State Road, the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, and Look Street?
At no time was the effect of storm water runoff questioned. With the removal of the trees and the planned development realized on a site that utilized a single-family home, where will the storm water runoff go? I fear my basement is in line for a few changes since the grade of the property falls to my property.
At no time was fire protection questioned. Does the planning board understand that in the event of a fire or other emergency response that State Road will probably have to be shut down and traffic rerouted through other Tisbury neighborhoods?
And speaking of neighborhoods, does the Tisbury planning board understand that concept? The letter I wrote to the planning board documents the timeline. As I stated in my letter, over the summer we had issues but no satisfaction. The Island Trust, once they identified themselves to us, promised the world ("...you can always call me if a problem rises..." stated executive director Philippe Jordi). Now, at the hearing, that offer was retracted. We are to call the homeowners association and deal with them directly, an entity that does not even exist. Is this the Island Trust's good neighbor policy and property management style? Does the planning board care about the Island Trust's past history with the site, or do we need affordable housing at any cost?
What developer would incur the expense of demolishing a home, carrying off the material, razing the trees and removing that material without having the special permit in hand? Of those citizens who attended the hearing it was questioned, "...Does anyone wish to speak in favor of this project..." nobody raised their hand; the entire gallery spoke against the project. But the planning board continued their sell.
Their questions spoke of the philosophy of affordable housing, the benefits, and what happens with re-sales and ground leases. One planning board member actually imposed his own personal view when he spoke of his home on a 700-foot nonconforming lot. Is this the agenda for the Tisbury planning board, to fill in every one-acre lot with four (4) Units because that is what the special permit bylaw allows? Didn't we use to call that "spot zoning"? Again, what about our existing neighborhoods?
Please accept this letter as a tool to bring discussion and debate. Perhaps a discussion with the Tisbury planning board is indicated to understand their objectives and goals. In the event of another attack on your neighborhood the people of Tisbury will not feel so abandoned. To quote the most poignant quote of the night at the hearing, "... I thought you (the planning board) were supposed to protect us?"
John F. Shannon
ATV critic mistaken
To the Editor:
I should probably admit that I have about as much use for lawyers as Don Larkosh has for ATVs. I do sincerely thank both him and David Whitmon for their words of advice and the information they shared. No thank you for the presumptuous and threatening, lengthy message you left on our answering machine, Mr. Larkosh. I was out of the country, so that put my mother on the receiving end of your vitriol, misinformation, and contradictions.
I have one son who rides. When the incident to which you refer occurred, there were three kids there, please do the math. I never stated that my son was there, or anywhere else, for that matter. You assume. Instead of extensively barricading the path, and then waiting for a confrontation, perhaps you should have called the police first. Let them do their job. You could have reduced the chance of injury/liability and let the kids take responsibility for their actions. Yours was a renegade act, and it happened six months ago. Perhaps it is time to let it go.
Last but not least, you seem to have completely confused me with someone else. I have never once spoken to you on the phone or in person concerning my son, or anything else. To say that I have is a libelous statement. I do not live in Island Farms, either. I have been at a West Tisbury ZBA hearing with you once, though. It was April 2002, and the subject was John Keene Excavation expanding their hours of operation. You urged Donnie and I to join you in signing a negative letter from some of their neighbors. It contained strong language with the words like "outrage," "noise pollution," "constant daily torture," and "carcinogenic." It all sounded like slander, so we declined. After all, John Keene has worked hard to try to be a good neighbor. He does his research and is good at communication. We appreciate those qualities immensely.
Stop using the
To the Editor:
I'm writing in response to the ORV issue. I write not to defend or make accusations regarding any actions that have taken place, as I have no first-handle knowledge of these. I do, however, write as an avid motorcyclist and off-road rider. I am dismayed to see fellow enthusiasts as well as myself lumped together and classified as wanton destroyers of the environment. Although off-road vehicles can be more detrimental to the environment than other forms of recreation, they don't need to be. Much of the offending behaviors belong to specific individuals, not all off-road vehicle riders. It would be the same as condemning all automobile drivers for the few who choose to drink and drive.
Although it is true that many New England states do not provide state-supported off-road riding opportunities, many of these states have private or federal land available for these uses. We all know that land on the Vineyard is scarce and expensive, so creative solutions are often required here. There are many resources available for groups as well as the general public to help obtain education on the topic of off-road riding. Treadlightly.org is an industry-sponsored web site that contains a great deal of information on responsible off-road riding. The American Motorcycle Association (www.ama-cycle.org) has a great deal of information and support for individuals who would like to form groups and need help navigating state laws and regulations.
It would seem that if what your writers are saying is true regarding the use of existing trails, then there is an obvious need for some kind of outlet for this sport. The State Forest as well as other areas on the Island has fire lanes that are intended to be kept clear. I'm certain the off-road riders would be happy to help with that, so perhaps it's a good place to start. As far as noise and emissions are concerned, there are Federal regulations in place that govern both of those. Vigorous enforcement of these, like any other laws pertaining to motor vehicles, will take care of those concerns. Off-road riding is accommodated in all states on both public and/or private lands with a balance for the sport and the environment. I'm sure if they can do it elsewhere, we can figure out how to do it here.
Just a place to ride
To the Editor:
I am a student at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. I have a dirt bike, as do a lot of other people. I just wanted to know if maybe we could, somehow, get some land in the State Forest on which we would be allowed to ride?
As some people may know, including the police, there is a track that riders have made in the State Forest. Any time we attempt to ride on this track, we are kicked off by the police. Then we must go home, or our bikes will be taken away.
I think that it is ridiculous that we can't find a place to ride. The skateboarders got a place to skate, so why can't we have a place to ride dirt bikes or quads. I know that land is hard to find, but if we were allowed in the State Forest we wouldn't have to look too far.
I just wanted to let adults know that this is a problem for people my age and would like some help in solving it.
To the Editor:
Like Dan Larkosh, we too live in an area near the State Forest and conservation property. And like Dan Larkosh and undoubtedly others, we are frequently annoyed by the noise and disturbances caused by the dirt bike and ATV riders that come by the house. However, our annoyance comes from several issues. There are the enablers, the attitude of entitlement, the lack of respect for other people's rights and the environment and what could be viewed as selective law enforcement.
Clearly the problem wouldn't exist if the parents or adult riders didn't ignore the laws. There are signs on the properties that clearly prohibit this activity. If these weren't enough, a responsible adult would contact the property owner or local police department to ascertain permission prior to trespassing. By not doing so, the parents enable their children to ignore these regulations and should be held as accountable as those riding the properties.
In my opinion, this comes from a strong feeling of entitlement that many people possess. For some reason their attitude is that they are owed special privileges rather than earning them. The rationale for these beliefs is usually illogical but strongly held. How dare someone tell them that they can't indulge themselves in these activities. This feeling of entitlement extends to many areas besides using public and private property as their own dirt track, but that would make for a much longer letter.
David Whitmon and Dan Larkosh pointed out the lack of respect for other peoples' rights and the environment that this activity causes. The noise, the fumes, the damage to the environment affect us all eventually. The trails in the State Forest, conservation properties, and ancient ways continually take a beating from this activity. Some recover, many don't. A quiet Sunday spent reading a book on the deck disturbed by the noise of several disrespectful riders tearing up the trails next to your house isn't soon forgotten.
Lastly, is the law enforcement aspect. I am sure that each local department has their priority list. Where this problem falls I don't know. In addition these are tough regulations to try to enforce, especially reactively. By the time the local police department can respond to a report, the rider can be on another property or even in another town. First, it would need to move up the priority list if it is going to be stopped. This would mean a proactive approach. I am sure that the annoyed public would be glad to point the local departments to the trails and road crossings regularly frequented by the riders. An occasional coordinated effort by the police departments and property owners on a sunny weekend afternoon would probably yield substantial results.
Unfortunately, until the perpetrators, the public, and the police decide to make efforts to stop it, we can expect this problem to continue.
To the Editor:
I would like to thank the Martha's Vineyard Commission for approving and passing the proposed amendments to the town zoning bylaws as regards our designation as a district of critical planning concern. The planning board made a wise move by inserting regulations creating a wireless overlay district that specifically indicates accommodations for the Distributed Antenna System (DAS), while making it impossible for a wireless communications company to build a cell tower.
Cell towers are passé. They are a health hazard and just plain unsightly. However, the federal Communications Act of 1996 (TCA) limits the obstacles a town may place in the way of wireless communications companies seeking to provide service where there is a lack of coverage. We are urging Aquinnah residents to assist us in moving ahead with a safer, newer technology - the Distributed Antenna System (DAS). Nantucket is on board with it, so is Northampton, Brookline, and Pepperell. It consists of a series of small antennas, placed atop poles at strategic locations and connected by fiber optics. A base unit, or shed, accommodates the electronics equipment.
The DAS is the safest cellular communications service we could find. Each antenna cannot exceed the minimum of 199 watts, and the fewest number of antennas necessary will be utilized. The RF's emitted are much lower than a cell tower's, therefore much safer.
The DAS project is an ecologically minded one. The fiber optic cables will be trenched underground, wherever possible, in order not to break the skyline. The poles will be made of a material that will discreetly blend in with the surrounding landscape. The small base station (which holds the wiring equipment) will be a fireproof shed at the landfill, surrounded by local naturalized landscaping plants.
I think Aquinnah residents will find that improved wireless communications can have many benefits, especially to emergency response professionals and families with children or the elderly. In addition, the poles can support another emerging new technology - Wi-MAX, which is wireless Internet for entire towns. How cool is that? I believe we can retain the charm and character of Aquinnah, while cutting ourselves a niche as being on the forefront of ecology and technology.
Aquinnah residents can be assured that we are working with the Aquinnah planning board, MVC, legal and wireless communications counselors, and local ecologists to make this project the best it can be for everyone. Our own research and grassroots work has been instrumental in making this happen, but we couldn't do any of it without the Aquinnah voters. Thanks to everyone working on this project - too numerous to mention.
Aquinnah residents: please vote at town meeting next week. (As always, we suggest using cell phones and computers at your own risk).
Lauri J. Bradway
Stephen M. Yeomans
Sentiments and music
To the Editor:
It happened again. For the ninth year in a row, our community was privileged to attend a concert honoring Hospice of Martha's Vineyard. The ambience was glorious: a candlelit church bedecked with greens and poinsettias. The attendance was remarkable: every seat was occupied by friends of all ages. And the music ... ah! that sublime music! ... a gift to us from Islanders who donated their time and talents, creating an atmosphere of peace, of stillness, of hope and enlightenment. There were vocalists, solo and ensemble; stringed instruments, guitar, cello, violin; piano and organ; and sleighbells. Illuminated by the glow of each person's candle and uplifted by the strains of Silent Night, our hearts and souls were touched. It was a shining tribute to those one wished to remember and those one reached out to thank.
Next year will be the tenth anniversary of this Night of Silence. Surely the sentiments and the music will be as moving and as full of harmony. Will you be there?
Claudia L. Rogers
To the Editor:
Once again, local businesses and the Vineyard community have given their full support of Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, through their enthusiastic purchase of the 2006 Calendar "Birds on the Vineyard."
The photographs in this year's edition are more stunning than ever, thanks to the generosity and creativity of Bill Ewart, Jr., Vern Laux, Lanny McDowell, and Julian Robinson. Quotes from "Vineyard Birds" by Susan Whiting and Barbara Pesch, and "Bird News - Vagrants and Visitors on a Peculiar Island" by Vern Laux, were also invaluable in producing this year's calendar.
In addition to the contributing photographers, grateful thanks to all at the Vineyard Holiday Shop, to Pat Waring and The Martha's Vineyard Times, and to the following retail outlets, some of whom still have calendars available: Chilmark Chocolates, Conroy Apothecary, Cronig's Markets, Morning Glory Farm, Patti Linn Salon, Rainy Day, SBS, and Sun Porch Books.
Best wishes to all for a safe, happy, and healthy year ahead.
To the Editor:
As a summer resident and long-time visitor to Martha's Vineyard, I am struck by the vast array of problems that the residents and their various local governments wrestle with. So, it is mindful of this that I am writing to comment on something that I believe is one of those things that directly affects the quality of day-to-day life, and which is so often overlooked in the overall array of issues. That is the problem of speeding in the residential areas of Vineyard Haven that has become an epidemic. In the summer while gardening on Daggett Avenue, it is not uncommon for people to fly by a few feet away at 40 and 50 miles an hour.
There is virtually no traffic enforcement in town, at the ferry or otherwise. There are no speed limit signs on Daggett Avenue. A call to the police to help gets a bored and uninterested response. This is a situation that can be remedied. The town can use its good offices to encourage speed reduction, but it requires a will to deal with it. I believe that there is no other area that can improve the quality of life for the residents - and cost so little to achieve. We can do better.
Vineyard Haven and Chapel Hill, N.C.