Letters to the Editor
The golden door
To the Editor:
In this time of heated national discussion on the presence of illegal immigrants in the USA, myself being an immigrant, I would like to address a statement that I heard at one of the local churches some time ago. After a presentation delivered by a visiting Brazilian pastor touching upon many issues - among them the Brazilian population in the States - one of the participants, an Island resident, posed an interesting question: "Why do they come here, why don't they stay home and try to make it a better place for themselves?"
I wish there was a way of moving back in time and allowing this gentleman to ask this same question to his German, Irish, Portuguese, Italian, British or Scandinavian great, great, great grandfather. The answer would probably be incredibly contemporary. Because my children are hungry, because I'm politically prosecuted, because I can't provide for better education and better future for my family, because somebody whom I love is seriously ill and needs money for medical bills, because the only way to make a better place for myself in my country means going somewhere else first to make it possible.
I can assure you that every immigrant, whether he/she is here legally or illegally, would pack their bags in an instant if they had similar opportunities in their home countries. Because no one would give up their families, their friends, the taste of their bread if they didn't have to. No Mexican crossing the border and fearing for their life nor Cuban on the raft is dreaming about a house with a swimming pool and vacation on Aruba. They dream about a better future for their children. Putting soldiers on the border shooting at them doesn't solve the problem.
Americans may say they're lucky being born into this country. You could have been born in Puerto Rico, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Mexico. Would you have enough courage to risk your life, risk not seeing your children for years? Honestly, no one can answer that question until the time comes.
I don't know enough about economy or politics to pretend to have a solution. But I know one thing. I know that every illegal immigrant would gladly contribute and pay taxes if it meant being treated with respect and if it meant being safe from the INS dragging them from their own homes. I know that we immigrants have to work five times as hard to gain trust and honorable treatment. I know that if American businesses didn't need immigrant workers for jobs of low esteem, they wouldn't employ us. I know that many immigrants want to treat the U.S.A. as their second home. I know that although I'm a university graduate with a master's degree, I'm perceived by many people as less intelligent because I have an accent. I know that people here on this Island voice their unhappiness with immigrant workers and then hire them to clean their houses or mow their lawns.
This country was founded on the idea of a better future and equal rights. It was built by all these immigrant groups bringing in immense energy to make their lives better, which resulted in making America what it is now. An international power. But this power is a collection of individual struggles and individual successes. I guess the poem on the Statue of Liberty shows what is being forgotten in this immigration debate. And there is nothing worse for the country than forgetting its roots.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she
with silent lips. "Give me your tired,
Your huddled masses yearning to
The wretched refuse of your
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Dagmara MacKenty Chrustowska
To the Editor:
We all keep hearing that the proposed wind farm project is going to create huge navigational problems. The bill before the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy's backroom deal, will require a one-and-a-half mile clearance for our ferries. Really?
If our captains and navigators need 7,920 feet to avoid hitting a marine obstacle, I have but one question. How did they get their jobs?
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to bring attention to a situation in our neighborhood that may well affect all of Edgartown and quite possibly the whole Island. What our situation comes down to is grandfather clauses on vacant properties. We didn't know, and most likely other Edgartown residents don't either, how much leniency is granted to a "grandfathered" property in Edgartown. We still wouldn't know if it weren't for the development of a vacant lot next to us.
We live in an area of R20 zoning that sits above Sengekontacket Pond, directly over the watershed. Recently, studies that have shown nitrogen loading in the pond can be attributed to human waste. In light of this, common sense would dictate that building codes and board of health and zoning regulations would be strictly enforced and possibly strengthened, but that's just not the case. Right next door to our property is a 6,000-square-foot lot (just over 1/8th of an acre) that has been approved for a 3-bedroom 26-foot x 37-foot (approx.) house.
As they were staking out the house today, we noticed that it looked awfully close to our line. Our setbacks are 10 feet on the sides, and this looked more like four or five feet. After a trip to the building department, my husband found out that grandfathered lots don't have to meet any setback requirements. What?
Okay, let's look at the whole picture. A house is allowed on a 6,000-square-foot lot, that's bad enough, but then it is allowed to have three bedrooms on such a small lot, and now it is not required to meet any of the setbacks? How is this fair to the people who already live in this neighborhood?
And now for the best part: it's a spec house. It is owned by a developer who bought it from another developer who purchased it from the original owner for $7,000. Isn't grandfathering supposed to have helped the original owner? Isn't that the idea? If you've owned a property for a long time and then decide to build, certain things should be considered to help you do that. How was the original owner benefited or helped in this situation? Is grandfathering supposed to help developers line their pockets? How many times can a property be sold before it isn't grandfathered any more? What exactly are the rules for a grandfathered lot in Edgartown or anywhere else on the Island for that matter? These are questions that need to be answered. I think it's time to set some limitations on grandfathered lots.
It is too late to change what is happening next door to us, but this is a situation that people need to be aware of. Be careful. Don't assume a lot in your area is too small to be developed. If a lot is grandfathered, anything is possible. Look around your neighborhood and find out about small, vacant lots. You may be surprised how many there are.
I guess the worst part is that families are leaving this Island every day because they can't afford a home, and wealthy developers are getting richer every day making the few affordable situations unreachable to Islanders.
Grandfathering can be a good thing with some restrictions. I guess the bottom line is that the grandfathering clause needs to be looked at and adjusted. Sometimes rules should be bent, but to help the community and its people to reach their goals, not to help a few people make money.
To the Editor:
Why did Brooks Robards, in her review of Mike Wallace's "Between You and Me" on April 20, feel it was necessary to correct Mr. Wallace? Mr. Robards notes in parentheses that "the book says Methodist Church, but there is none in Edgartown." The Whaling Church has been a Methodist Church since it was built nearly a century and a half ago; services continue at what is now known as the Edgartown United Methodist Church in the building traditionally known as the Whaling Church.
If Ms. Robards (or anyone else) wishes to come by on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m., she would be gladly welcomed.
Sofia H. Anthony
There is a Methodist church in Edgartown
To the Editor:
Brooks Robards does not know her Island like Mike Wallace does. In her article on page 5 of the Calendar section of the MV Times April 20 edition, she states that there is no Methodist Church in Edgartown, directly contradicting Mike Wallace.
Wallace is remembering a talk by or with Thomas Hart Benton at the Methodist Church in Edgartown (in his recent book "Between You and Me"). There was a Methodist Church in Edgartown then, and there is a Methodist Church now. The Edgartown Methodists built that church in 1843 and graciously gave it to the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust (for a small sum and with the provision that Methodists could continue to worship there.) It is now a performing arts center, a meeting place, and a church, which Ms. Robards would know if she walked a few steps down Church Street and read the sign "United Methodist Church" or checked the green pages of the Island Book - Places of Worship.
The Methodist congregation is small but mighty. They sponsor the Monday night community suppers (formerly called "soup-suppers") and have done so for almost 20 years. They meet for Sunday worship at 9 am in a small chapel in the winter months and in the beautiful large sanctuary in the summer. They open the church to tourists several afternoons a week during tourist season and are host to many visitors from Methodist churches around the country for Sunday morning worship.
Mike Wallace may not know if there are Methodists in Edgartown now but he knew they were here when he met with Thomas Hart Benton.
The "Old Whaling Church" may be the endearing, romantic name for the building, but to the Edgartown Methodists it is still a house of worship.
Philip and Jane Dietterich
To the Editor:
About the immigration protest, I could tolerate the protest if they would fly the American flag and not drive down the streets of every town flying the Brazilian flag or the Mexican. It really makes me angry. If they want to be here, then be American.
A delightful afternoon
To the Editor:
The Vineyard Tennis Center Workout and Spa had the privilege of hosting the Alexandra M. Gagnon Seventh Grade Girls Day. More than 40 young women from around the Island enjoyed an afternoon of activity and health awareness. The Alexandra M. Gagnon Foundation was created in 1998 to commemorate the life of Alexandra M. Gagnon and to support the treatment and prevention of substance abuse, particularly as it pertains to young people.
The central theme for the girl's day was "Taking Care of Myself." The professional team at the Workout, joined by several volunteers, first discussed the benefits of health, fitness and hygiene. The young women took a cardio kickboxing class and were encouraged to try out the fitness equipment in the club. Volunteers assisted the girls in preparing healthy snacks, including granola and fruit smoothies. The girls also received tips on hair and skin care. Finally, the girls were pampered with massages. The afternoon finished with snacks and gift bags for all.
The staff of the Vineyard Tennis Center Workout and Spa with the adult volunteers were delighted to spend the afternoon with the girls. The Alexandra M. Gagnon Foundation supports a wonderful event on the Island.
Vineyard Tennis Center,
Workout & Spa
Hospital real estate
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the people of Tisbury.
Years ago I wrote a column called "Tisbury Watchdog." Just thought I would let the folks know a little of the town.
The hospital has requested funds. The hospital owns in the town of Tisbury 6.5 acres of land assessed for $340,200. They pay $1,806 yearly to the town for taxes. Suggestion: Put it to good use as a site or sell it to someone for probably a half million. Use the money for the new hospital.
Now, if they own property in Tisbury, how much in other towns on the Island do they own? Sell that, too.
Another site behind the Regional. State land and land not given to the regional. No water to go over, no land to buy. Just a suggestion, "Physician, heal thyself."
Cora S. Medeiros
To the Editor:
One morning. I read an Island bumper sticker that said, "Enough Is Enough!" That afternoon, I went to the Tisbury landfill where they wanted $2 to accept a broken beach umbrella. Now, I know what is enough.