Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
You probably know me as Jack from Alley's. I managed that general store in West Tisbury for 11 years, and during that time I came to know a lot of wonderful people. So I thought it appropriate to write this short letter, as a way of saying thanks.
The fact is, I am moving to Vermont. On Monday. So many of you have supported me through the years, so many kindnesses that I cannot repay. And you never asked me to. I will miss this Island dearly, but a change of scenery is in order following what has been a very tough year personally. For those of you who knew my wife, Karen, I'm sure you understand. I suspect that you will find me walking some beach here in October, touching base, checking in. It has been a privilege to work and live among you. If you're ever in Putney, give a call.
To the Editor:
Four new houses to be built within the confines of the Edgartown Cemetery? Difficult to believe, but it is about to become true, unless Edgartown voters attend a special town meeting Thursday night, July 27, at the Edgartown School.
The former Willey parcel, two acres of woods surrounded by Edgartown's Westside Cemetery, New Westside Cemetery, and the Police and Fire Stations, is under agreement to a Florida-based developer who has already filed plans with the planning board to sub-divide and build four new houses.
Immediate action by town meeting is required to re-direct the future use of this land to a more appropriate purpose, namely, a much-needed addition to the cemetery. Cemetery commissioners project that land available for the sale of cemetery lots will run out in less than 15 years. The purchase or taking by eminent domain of this adjacent two-acre parcel may double that length of time.
The property owner has agreed to sell to the developer, for $1,550,000. The town is willing to pay the same price. The Edgartown CPA committee and Cemetery Department will commit $500,000 of available funds to the purchase, if the town will borrow the remaining $1,050,000. All of that borrowed sum should eventually be returned to the town when the additional space is sold as cemetery lots. The Edgartown selectmen support this proposal, as do the Edgartown financial advisory committee members. But without the Edgartown voters coming out to a brief, one-article town meeting next Thursday, July 27, at 7:30, at the Edgartown School, we'll be getting something we don't need, four more houses, instead of something we will all need, additional grave space at the Edgartown Cemetery. Please, come out and vote.
To the Editor:
I was very pleased to read Aubrey Gibavic's article on the anticipated effects of Melanie's Law on Martha's Vineyard. Tod, Nancy and I fought very hard against long odds to pass the law, because we truly believe it will save lives.
Melanie's wish was to become a Guardian Angel, because she told my wife it was the greatest job in the world. Nothing can ever erase the pain of losing her, but knowing the already positive impact of the law eases our pain.
make this up
To the Editor:
This past April when we arrived at our home on East Chop we had an interesting event. When we decided to open our gas grill on our deck, we were surprised to discover that the grill was completely filled with empty nip bottles. About 150.
We were not sure what this meant or what to do. I took 24 pictures of our grill and the nips. My wife was disturbed that someone came to our deck while we were not home and made such a deposit. She brought all the nips to the Oak Bluffs police. Once they composed themselves, they suggested that there may be a message in all of this.
Every Memorial Day weekend, we host a large party and invite many folks from East Chop. We were having difficulty coming up with a theme this year, so we decided to have one of the pictures of the nips in the grill made into the party invitation. The employees at the print shop thought that the picture and invitation was great. It represented summer/grilling/partying/drinking/ and having fun. Great idea.
Now the Memorial Day Party.
Three of our guests arrive with pictures of their outdoor grills filled with nip bottles. We can now account for more than 1,000 nip bottles and at least eight folks who have been "nipped." Many guests left our party going home to see if they had been "nipped." They couldn't wait to see if they had been blessed.
Now the conversation on the Chop is "who is the nipster"? Who else has been nipped? What do we do with all the nip bottles? String them together for next year's party?
Does this have an ending? Who knows.
Bob St. Germain
Family perspective on Land Bank
To the Editor:
"The land is vacant except for a modest summerhouse...." May I offer my perspective on the meaning of emptiness and value referred to in the article of July 13, entitled "Land Bank's Chilmark purchase offers ocean and pond views."
Twenty years ago, Stan and Margaret Leavy graciously lent their summer home to a young widow and her children to help them recover from the loss of a husband and father. Nighttime ferry tickets were included in the offer. A dark ride down South Road to a narrow climb on a dirt road to a hidden house brought the exhausted travelers to a good night's rest.
Morning brings hope. Waking to a sunny day with a hot cup of coffee and a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean, the westerly portion of Chilmark Pond, the barrier dunes protected only by Lucy Vincent rocks, Squibnocket Point in the distance standing majestically facing the ocean.
How does isolation in a house nestled into the hill soothe anxiety? Can nature inspire awe to a broken family? Can sharing the glory of a spot of peace and privacy help heal?
For 20 years, the Leavy family has continued to share that land and that house they call Summering. Time has been measured in months of academic respite, rather than weeks of income potential. We have endured hurricanes in that house, have seen a starlit sky reflecting off a shimmering ocean, have read ageless stories, and have found love renewed in a new marriage. We have raised four wonderful children in this space and have brought four happy grandsons to find a Vineyard experience that holds natural beauty, glorious beach days, friendships that grow, and hosts on the Island that humanely care for us.
We occupy the land as transients. Our long gazing at the wonder of God's creation fills, rather than empties, our minds. The old farmland has nourished another family.
My hope is that the land will sprout and nourish new life, inspire more people, and bring comfort to sad or aching souls. We will miss summering on this land, and we are grateful to the Leavy family for such a home.
Chilmark and Branford, Conn.
To the Editor:
Don't know if many people write in to thank the staff of a restaurant for an amazing experience. Please indulge us. We dined at Atria in Edgartown over the weekend and, without a doubt, it was the best dining experience of our lives. The food was absolutely incredible. But what's more important (to us anyway) was the service. For three hours we felt like royalty. We've never been pampered like that anywhere. Thanks to John, Dana, Jen, and Terry. You're the best. Very special thanks to Christian and Greer Thornton - to say you two are a class act wouldn't begin to cover it. Now that's customer service.
Ray and Laurel Whitaker
To the Editor:
For the past 18 years I have been associated in one way or another with the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program. I have met many wonderful people and have enjoyed working with each and every one of you on keeping our groundwater clean and free of toxic chemicals. Over the years we have collected well over 3,000 containers of nasty chemicals, batteries, oil, antifreeze, solvents, photo chemicals and more.
I have always been very proud of this program. It was a program that we all as one Island used. Many do not know that this program was the very first of its type on the East Coast. Papers have been written about it, other programs have been modeled after it, and most of the regulations used today by state regulators were created using our program.
Starting July 1, the program is now being run out of the offices of the Martha's Vineyard Refuse District. Beginning in October, the collections will be conducted at the Refuse District Transfer Station on the West Tisbury Road near the airport.
The success of any program is achieved through the people associated with it. It all started a long time ago with Nellie Mendenhall. The League of Woman voters have been very supportive doing the volunteer work and meeting and greeting participants while getting surveys filled out. We have used the same off-Island chemist for the past 18 years, LeeAnn Delmonte, and the current technicians, Mike Eldridge, Dave Thompson, and Dale Morgan have all worked for the program for many years.
I know the program is strong and the participants staunch in their support, so I hand it over to the Refuse District knowing it will be around for many years to come. To all the participants over the years, thank you for doing your part to make Martha's Vineyard a beautiful place to visit and live.
Help when needed
To the Editor:
Boaters, you can find a safe haven at Maciel Marine in Vineyard Haven. My family and I were traveling in the Vineyard Sound on July 3, when one of our engines experienced a failure. We called every marina in the area to help us, but it was the day before the July 4 holiday, and everyone was booked. When I reached out to Jeff at Maciel Marine, he gladly accepted us and made room for us at his service dock. His service manager, David Brouillette, and head mechanic Steve Maciel looked at our boat immediately and tried to remedy the problem. They gave us full access to all their facilities and allowed us to use one of their moorings out in the harbor for several days. Their hospitality was unmatched by any marine facility we have visited in more than 10 years of cruising. My family and I would like to thank all the fantastic people at Maciel Marine for taking us in when we really needed help.
Round and round
To the Editor:
About Five Corners, instead of a round-about, maybe a merry-go-round?
children's experience of Memorial Day
To the Editor:
It is Memorial Day, and the staff at the Edgartown School has been instructed to explain the significance of this day to students. During the morning announcements, Bill MacKenty reads a beautiful poem about commemorative flowers. Much of the vocabulary in this poem is a stretch for the second graders in my room, but silence settles in quickly as children listen to the lilt of the English language. At first, I believe that students respond to the authority of a male voice. They seldom hear a lower register voice as they speak among themselves and listen to their female classroom teachers. As the verse continues, the novelty of Mr. MacKenty's voice recedes. Students continue to give close attention to the poem. I am struck by how easily young children become absorbed by spare and lilting language. We continue to be absorbed by oral storytelling traditions. I make a mental note to talk about how poetry is meant to be read aloud when we next compare poems with prose. In the moment, I savor the music that is language with my students.
At morning circle, I open our classroom discussion about Memorial Day with a question. "What can you tell us about this holiday?" Students take turns, tentatively suggesting that it has something to do with remembering those who fought in wars. Several children volunteer stories about grandparents and great-grandparents who served as soldiers, most of whom died from cancer after retiring from the military. The discussion turns solemn, with children describing distant, protracted fights against terminal illness.
It is my turn to shift the conversation back to Memorial Day. "I'll tell you the story of how this holiday began," I interject. "About 150 years ago there was a horrible war where Americans fought other Americans. At that time some people owned other adult people just the way that we today own dogs. There were lots of battles between people who thought that it either was or wasn't okay to own other people. Eventually those people who thought that it wasn't fair for some people to own other people won the war. So today we don't do this. Even after the fighting stopped, many people felt sore and hurt because some had fought their brothers and others had lost family members. Women started taking flowers to soldiers' graves, and this was how Memorial Day began."
Later I will reflect on this short synopsis and wonder if I should have used the word slavery or discussed race. In the moment, I decide not to introduce too many abstract concepts. We are already imagining a distant time and I want children to be able to grasp the outlines of a story. Future teachers will add more layers to this story. My job is to nurture student understanding while recognizing and respecting its developmental limits.
Children seem to be following my account. Now, I wonder if they can explain what it means to fight for "our country." I pose the question, expecting second-graders to have a difficult time conceiving of nationhood. If I hadn't had to choose between American and South African citizenship at age 18, I might still struggle to explain what is meant by country and its expression in the United States. With this group of Edgartown second-graders, I choose to introduce two familiar national symbols. Comfort using symbols is preliminary to understanding abstract ideas, and seven- to eight-year-olds use a number of these throughout their school day. Just this morning, they had identified a range of symbols - including arithmetic signs, proofreader's conventions, and street signs. To this list, I add the U.S. flag and the bald eagle.
We watch a five-minute video clip that explains these U.S. symbols. At its end, I try to gauge children's level of understanding. The concept of city, state, and country is still very confused: a star could as easily represent Boston or Massachusetts. This seems less compelling than student interest in what the colors on the flag represent. Several children remember that the red stands for courage or bravery and the white means right thinking and doing. There is open curiosity about what the blue behind the stars symbolizes. One girl reminds her friends that George Washington described stars in the night sky. Perhaps the blue stands for this dark backdrop. Some children accept this explanation, but others seem troubled that this color represents a thing rather than an idea. The strong desire to find patterns leaves some students searching for a better answer.
One girl who has been quiet through most of the discussion now announces to her peers that she knows who made the first flag. The name escapes her in the moment, but she wants her classmates to know that this innovator was a woman. I reassure this child that no one knows for sure who made the first flag because there were many flags made by women around the same time.
"I have a friend who is writing a book about a woman who said that she was the first to make the US flag. Betsy Ross, who got instructions from George Washington about what to put on the flag, had a job covering furniture with material. She knew how to work with cloth because she did this for a living." Have I made an unnecessary digression, I wonder. These second graders are now exposed to current thinking among historians of early America. Women who lived through the American Revolution might have had limited property rights, but they made crucial economic contributions to the new nation. How will these second-graders before me be rewriting our history when they graduate from school? What will be the preoccupations of their generation of scholars?
We turn our attention to the national bird. Students find this symbol quite accessible. Compelled by the images of live bald eagles, children eagerly identify the power and majesty of this bird. Its massive wing span and path through empty blue skies evokes both strength and freedom of movement. At least one student has seen an eagle figurine soaring on a pole above the American flag. Before turning our attention to other academic subjects, I congratulate students on their careful listening and thoughtful contributions to our Memorial Day introduction. "It can be difficult to sustain one's attention when trying to think about ideas that are very big or seem very far away," I say in explaining my compliment.
After lunch, we review safety rules for the parade and happily take our places in the school formation. As soon as the group starts to walk, I am reminded how different this parade is from student's prior experiences. Second-graders recall the Fourth of July parade and festive processions in school. They note that as kindergarteners, they never got to ride in a wagon. The March to the Sea was rained out that year and students now must experience the wagon ride vicariously through younger children. It takes several reminders to impress upon students the seriousness of this march. As we pass the cemetery, I point out the soldiers' graves that are decorated with flags. Several children delight in picking out these graves and they point them out to me as we pass.
Once seated on the tarmac of the Edgartown pier, the children become observers to the school's Memorial Day ceremony. I look over rows of heads and try to imagine what each child might be making of this complex occasion. During the adult speeches, I notice several children continuing prior classroom exploration. A handful of boys dissect the lilac blossoms that they hold, looking for the pistils and pollen makers. "Is this dying blossom going to make a seed?" I imagine them thinking. Another boy pinches sand between two fingers and moves it from one pile to another. Is this action that of a crab or a bulldozer, I wonder. Will he see the levers at work when we discuss simple machines? Yet another child puts a piece of gravel in his mouth. I watch to see where this discovery might lead. Each second-grader seems to be making meaning for him or herself in the moment. Some of this might be recalled in later life as a fond memory. Other quiet reflections might inform future learning.
The ceremony ends with taps and its mournful echo across the water. Part of me longs for more moments in the school day when I can simply observe and marvel at how students integrate new information. As students make their own connections between experiences and continue to explore their environments, each will create a life of discovery that is distinctive and rewarding. We march back to the school and I ask students if the taps that they had just heard sounded like the taps that Louis the swan played at the end of each day at summer camp. The children have different opinions, but they all know my reference to E.B. White's imaginative story.
Mary Jane Aldrich-Moodie
A matter of fairness
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Commission's decision to overwhelmingly approve a proposal for the private Field Club in Katama is not something we are for or against. What the Martha's Vineyard Branch NAACP is for is fair play.
In reference to the Field Club, the commissioners stated they are for diversity (rich people?). Was diversity a discussed issue regarding the Jack E. Robinson tennis club? It is also noted that the MVC was willing to mitigate a sewerage problem that the developers would have. What about the impact on traffic by the use of a private club in the Navigator Restaurant in the downtown area of Edgartown?
Let's review the facts, as stated in the July 4, 2006 issue of the Vineyard Gazette. The Field Club will have a fitness center, a learning center, an outdoor tennis pavilion, a pool, a pond, 74 parking spaces, an area for lawn games, plus a private club on the second floor of the Navigator Restaurant in downtown Edgartown. The Field Club expects to have a membership of 500.
It is our understanding that Jack E. Robinson's tennis club's modest expansion proposal was not approved by the MVC because it would have significant impact on the community. It is apparent that with 500 people, guests, families in attendance at the Field Club and at the private cub in Edgartown, that "some" impact on traffic, water, sewer usage, etc., would take place.
We hope that the Martha's Vineyard Commission will revisit the decision made regarding the Jack E. Robinson's tennis club to conform with the decision made regarding the Field Club. What's fair for one should be fair for all.
Marie B. Allen
To The Editor:
I have been a part-time resident of Chilmark since the mid 1970s, and at various stages of my family's life have used a 21-foot fishing boat, a 35-foot sailing boat, a 17-foot dory, and a canoe in and about Menemsha Pond and the surrounding waters. I listen to and read about issues raised by Menemsha Is For Everyone, and I am incredulous.
Menemsha is not a harbor for big boats, for reasons of safety, of tradition, and of egalitarianism. Since the beginning of the Vineyard's maritime history, large vessels have taken shelter in Vineyard Haven as it was the only suitable anchorage for them. My family now has a 50-foot sailing vessel, which we moor in Vineyard Haven. I am an experienced yacht delivery skipper and would not keep our boat in Menemsha Harbor - I would not consider it prudent seamanship.
Under the regulations, four visitors can each bring in a 22-foot boat instead of one visitor bringing in a 90-foot boat - that's more Menemsha for everyone. Limiting transient mooring periods opens up dock space for additional visitors - that's more Menemsha for everyone.
For reasons of personal esthetics, I oppose mega-yachts in Chilmark's harbor - I think they're out of place, as are McDonalds and McMansions. Larger vessels seeking island amenities can always make use of the facilities of the Nantucket Boat Basin which is located a few nautical miles to the east and adjacent to a lovely cobblestoned village.
To the Editor:
At the June 27 meeting of the Oak Bluffs selectmen, wastewater plant manager Joseph Alosso reported on the results of our investigations into the water that had been noted in some spots of Ocean Park. As you may be aware, the treated effluent from the treatment plant is sent to Ocean Park, where it is distributed via 28 underground dispersal beds. A few points of clarification are in order on the discussion that followed.
Several people at that meeting referred to the effluent as "wastewater"; there may have even been one reference to "sewage." This was a slip of the tongue(s) at best, and extremely irresponsible at worst. We wastewater folks are sensitive about this sort of mistake. We want to assure everyone that the water sent to the park meets or exceeds every standard for drinking water, as set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
We have been investigating evidence of excessive amounts of water in the park for many weeks. We are monitoring the automatic watering of the grass by the parks department on alternate days; we have dug down in numerous spots to ascertain why the water does not drain as freely as was predicted by the design engineering firm of Wright Pierce, who have been put on notice.
We also instructed our staff to run comparative chemical tests of the water leaving the plant, and the water lying in some of the low spots of the park. Bear in mind that the park had experienced rain for 17 out of 30 days, totaling 14 inches and two million gallons; and the park has experienced flocks of geese for many, many months. As we expected, the water leaving the plant is of drinking water quality. The water lying in the park shows elevated amounts of nitrogen, but well within regulated limits; however, the geese have caused high levels of fecal coliform; but even that is less than one-half the amount that can cause a beach to be shut down. Fortunately, the selectmen's recent decision to bring in a dog handler to chase the geese out of the park appears to have been successful in recent weeks.
Also, at the meeting, an incorrect statement was made that we had to shut down 12 out of 28 dispersal beds to prevent flooding. In fact, we had temporarily, selectively closed off some valves in the vicinity of the flag pole in order to ascertain which areas might be troublesome.
We do not regard this matter as closed. We assure you, the citizens of Oak Bluffs, and all our visitors that we will continue to study this problem. We will take every possible action to keep the park dry and enjoyable for everyone.
Story eloquently told
To the Editor:
Vineyard House is extremely grateful for your informative article regarding the history of our program and the conundrum we face in being public about our work, which requires respect for anonymity. You have helped us raise community awareness of the disease of addiction, which, unfortunately, carries an ancient stigma. Like cancer or diabetes or a host of other afflictions, substance abuse is a potentially fatal condition. For too long, "polite society" suggests we're not supposed to talk about it. Too bad. Polite people have died of it and families have been broken by it. Your reporter, Nis Kildegaard, handled our interview sensitively and gave eloquent expression to our story.
Dana K. Anderson
President, Vineyard House
Edgartown charges for the privilege
To the Editor:
I wasn't aware that Edgartown charged a parking fee for outsiders, or is perhaps merely trying to flood the municipal coffers on a spring tide of summer visitors, but I am now. It seems that parking in some backwater of Edgartown for an hour and thirty-three minutes earns you a lavender-colored greeting on your windshield informing you that you now owe the town ten dollars.
I'm sure charging for more than an hour, presumably, of rationed time along Edgartown's meticulous granite curbs is a wonderful fundraiser, but we mere mortals from West Tisbury, who with first-time houseguests in tow journey to see Edgartown and to hopefully enjoy a pleasant lunch, require a longer dispensation on our visas. Give us at least two hours before dispatching us back to our humble digs, or having to fork over your parking fee for the privilege of a very short visit.