Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Your excellent editorial "Great step forward" in the July 27 issue is the best thing I've seen on what's missing and what's needed to defeat the affordable housing dilemma in the Vineyard.
You were talking about Edgartown's substantial new mixed-income rental project under construction on town-owned land off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Pennywise Path. You referred to it as a "prime model" for the Vineyard and indicated that former selectman Ted Morgan's far-sighted leadership was largely responsible for bringing this about, together with significant help from town voters.
In fact, you said, of all the factors that must come together to build affordable housing, "leadership -realistic, determined, and widely respected - comes first."
What appears to be missing from the equation in most of the other towns is committed local leadership. As you wrote, progress and success "requires unrelenting leadership to knit all these strands together" and, as Mr. Morgan argues, "it is the responsibility of political leaders in each community to lead the attack on the affordable housing shortage."
Let's insist that our leaders take a bite rather than a nibble out of the large and growing affordable housing deficiency on Martha's Vineyard.
To the Editor:
It was my cinema paradiso. I use to sit across the street on Cafe Moxie's bench just to look at it. What I loved was that every single time I saw a movie there, something went wrong. The film would break or the sound wouldn't work, always something. Once the ticket person didn't show up so the projector guy told us we were all on our honor to pay on the way out. Where else would that happen? Of course, there was no one to make popcorn, so that was a bummer.
Once I was worried because the movie was almost over and everything was running smoothly, but then a flicker in the film, so I guess that counted.
I was afraid that it would become ordinary like every other theater. Then one day the whole projector came crashing down with a clamor. I was much relieved. Now alas, no more movies, no more walks to town. I have to drive far, far away to a normal theater. That whole sense of community around the town theater is gone - no more cinema paradiso. Where is that guy from Naples to save it for us? Is his name Art?
Jeanne Quinzio Hupprich
To the Editor:
Such a pity that an organization as admirable as the Land Bank should come under fire yet again for their efforts. Seems to me that, try as they might, nothing will ever be good enough in the new Manaquayak Preserve. Some sort of quasi-scientific rationale for which they alone are responsible will be trumpeted as the reason for its closure. Such a shame, as they truly have enriched the fabric of the much-touted "Vineyard experience."
Perhaps they should cut their losses and sell the property at market value, and use the funds to purchase another property where abutters would be tickled to prevent a real estate development in their backyard. Perhaps they should give Corey Kupersmith a call, to see if he would be willing to trade some property in Oak Bluffs for a lovely chunk of pond-front property in West Tisbury.
Give the local guy the job
To the Editor:
I was pleased to see that the Vineyard Haven selectmen have narrowed the search for a new police chief to two candidates. I hope that they will give a special consideration to Dan Hanavan. Dan would make a great chief. He has all the qualifications and special attributes to be outstanding. His local knowledge and years of experience with the police department make him the best candidate for the position. I think it would be great for morale in the department to promote from within.
We don't need a new guy from Connecticut coming to the Vineyard and learning on the job. Let's go with who we know. A smile and a wave from a familiar face is far more important.
Do alcohol sales,
do it right
To the Editor:
Tisbury's full, but careful, alcohol compliance will benefit itself and the Island.
1. Restaurants in Tisbury selling alcohol will enjoy increased income, possibly inspiring them to offer a lower priced, higher quality food menu. More competition Island-wide is not bad.
2. Some Tisbury residents could walk into town for a "Night Life" instead of driving through V.H. to O.B. or Edgartown.
3. Economically, Tisbury would benefit, and O.B. and Edgartown would suffer, but the stress of increased night population would be spread out among three towns, not two. Is that so bad?
4. Tisbury should have a liquor store out of town at least as far as Cronig's. Every single person in Tisbury, part of West Tisbury, including all of Lambert's Cove who goes to the liquor store has to drive through V.H. How much unnecessary traffic is that!?
5. Edgartown does just fine with full alcohol compliance. Why can't Tisbury? Nantucket isn't too shabby either.
6. I'd love to see a laid-back sailor's bar in the old tradition in town, maybe near Wind's Up or somewhere on the harbor.
7. No one wants a noisy bar in their backyard. Tisbury should ease into this change slowly and carefully and do it right.
To the Editor:
One questionable deployment of our military forces by the president needs more comment than it has received so far: using service personnel to line the White House corridor that leads to his press briefing podium. As seen by the television audience, he and a foreign guest (Prime Minister Blair, perhaps) come striding between two rows of uniformed flagstaff holders, who lift and lower the flags as they pass. The flag-holders then stand patiently until the briefing is over, in order to make the same salute as the leaders exit. Although this usually involves only about a dozen - one or two from each branch of the service, it still shows a lack of regard by the Commander-in-Chief for those placed under his orders for the nation's defense.
As for the enlisted men and women thus displayed, any veteran can remember what a pain it is to be detailed to such an ornamental assignment, even if it is supposed to be an honor. Grooming of person, uniform, and equipment must be immaculate; be assured that all will be inspected rigorously by several layers of military hierarchy, and in this case probably by some White House honcho as well. Much time and labor go into this preparation, which has to be finished long before the detail begins.
From what can be seen on camera, the instructions to the troops are fairly simple. A military or civilian supervisor stations them at intervals along the corridor; although not rigidly at attention except when lifting and lowering the flags, they are to move as little as possible, look straight ahead, show no emotion, and hope that no call of nature will embarrass them or the service they represent. They probably hope also that there will be no overly long speeches, and that the press questioners will be easily satisfied.
After it is over, the president may thank everyone for a job well done, and say that he "understands" how boring it is to stand so long without moving. He might even joke that it sure beats KP. Or he may not. If he really understood, he would just have the flags displayed on the wall, and let the troops stay with the serious training they need to fight his wars. It is praiseworthy when a politician stands behind our military, not so when he makes them stand behind him.
Thanks to all
To The Editor:
My husband Bob O'Neil and I, Richelle (Shelly) O'Neil would like to thank the Edgartown police, firemen and ambulance teams for their quick response to a minor mishap at our restaurant David Ryan's and Richelle's Place in Edgartown on July 21. Thank the powers above, nothing serious came about, but having you all there in minimal time made our staff and us more at ease.
We would also like to thank the downtown community for your concern for us and our business. Whoever called the emergency teams, a big thank-you to you also. Sometimes on this Island you might lose faith in community; we never have and never will, this is why we moved here for the feeling of a safe, caring, and neighborly life. Thank you all.
Richelle (Shelly) O'Neil
Analyzing the plan
To the Editor:
This is a copy of comments on the Island Plan that I've sent to the Martha's Vineyard Commission:
I received copy of the Island Plan brochure in Thursday's MV Times and offer the following comments. First of all, with respect to front page questions:
We want the Vineyard to remain as close to its origins as possible, even to extent of restoring "natural conservation." The Vineyard as an Island cannot sustain growth of past generation. Natural conservation is in direction of "village zoning," and is quite consistent with the Island's heritage. Village zoning will create affordable housing and offer solutions to waste and wastewater management through use of sewering.
I believe Vineyard's long-term health is governed by emphasis on sustainability, more than any other factor, and find sustainable only mentioned with respect to economy. Sustainability really means "everything" that has attracted people to the Island over the years, including an eclectic population, year-round and seasonal.
Under economy, it should be noted that the seasonal residents pay more than 80 percent of the real estate taxes, and without voting rights we are fostering "taxation without representation" that was a root cause that helped create our nation. Island zoning and conservation are major factors in the Vineyard's increasing unaffordability.
A major reason the number of jobs has doubled since 1980 is because number of dwellings has nearly doubled, and average building value has increased significantly as well. A question that might be asked is - How many year-round and seasonal people are involved in "compute to work"? And is that a trend that is increasing?
Total value of property on the Vineyard is now over $18 billion as compared to Nantucket's $14 billion. They were respectively $2 and $4 billion in 1995, only a decade ago. Total property value 10-20 years from now depends mainly on how Island deals with zoning? "Build out" is irrelevant when land values are exploding.
5. Critical part of seasonal population is seasonal residents who are approximately 25,000 and growing while the tourist population is declining. The Island is becoming more and more a "gated community," and the price of housing is causing year-round residents to leave for economic reasons. This will eventually destroy the community.
6. The fact Vineyard's and Nantucket's annual growth rates are the highest in the state is of little meaning when traffic congestion seasonally isn't even mentioned as among our greatest problems in season. Brochure as a whole should have more of a mention of transportation as a key economic issue to and from, and on the Island.
7. The demographic and housing affordability commentary without even mention of cost of living offers little, if any, insight into Island community life or appreciation for data's meaning. The Island needs to come to grips with the fact that "suburban, 3 acre zoning" will ultimately "destroy the island." Village zoning is the real answer.
Under Ecology, the globally rare "sandplain grasslands" are substantially covered by a State Forest of dead non-indigenous trees that represent a real fire hazard to the Island. If the Island wants to return itself to environment as existed in its earlier years, restoring sandplains by removing forest would an excellent place to start.
Under ecology, nearly 40,000 acres of the Vineyard (40 percent) equates to a Vineyard area of over 150 square miles that must include everything inside the outer barrier beaches. Acid rain is unrelated to the watersheds and is minimally related to local pollution. "Back to nature" is basic solution, but it must be comprehensive solution.
In land discussion, percentages of land developed, unbuildable, open space, or available is interesting history, but not particularly relevant to any future planning. How does the 34 percent "protected open space" compare to "priority habitat" mentioned in ecology section, and what are differences? Coastal ponds can be economic gems.
The 0.5 percent of Vineyard land classed commercial and industrial amounts to a very small percent, but its concentration in downtowns, on waterfronts and at the airport are more significant considerations. It would be great deal more interesting to know average residential acreages in downtowns, and what is potential housing capacity.
Wastewater, whether served by septic systems or sewers is critical to land use planning, and there is no mention of the topic in the land section. Similarly, there is no discussion of solid waste disposal, particularly with Island landfills closed, while freight growth to Island contains waste and building materials that require disposal.
Questions on sustainable economy, jobs, housing, activities, congestion and safe transportation or preserving Island character are sufficiently obvious to be trivial. Directed development is a "buzz" word; energy independence has minimal impact; and available land depends on zoning and conservation.
The priority effort for Island planning is determination of "carrying capacity" of the Island under various scenarios where population groups of year-round and seasonal residents; tourists and visitors; and workers including their logistical needs and means of transport to the Island are determined.
This should be followed by study to determine how transportation needs of these respective populations to, on and from the Island can be alternatively handled including economic and incentive considerations. This, along with solid study of construction, maintenance and upkeep will largely determine jobs.
In parallel with determination of Island carrying capacity and transportation needs, each town should be developing, in the manner similar to that being employed by the town of Tisbury, a local set of alternatives that satisfy the local community needs in terms of housing, businesses and transportation.
Further, the towns should appoint or elect individuals to study Island-wide needs in terms of education, recreation and conservation as well as public safety, and other general government and governance issues. As an island, it will be important to deal with waste management from source to disposal.
Wake up, Oak Bluffs
To the Editor:
I am a member of the Oak Bluffs Finance Committee. I was appointed in late 2002 and have been elected twice since that time. My current term expires in 2009. I was co-chairman in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and chairman in 2005-06. During that period of time, the budget presented to the Oak Bluffs voters was balanced each time.
During that time the committee worked very closely with the town administrator Casey Sharpe, and town finance director Paul Manzi. Almost every meeting we had was attended by either Paul Manzi or Casey Sharpe and many times by both. Both are very competent public servants. Casey Sharpe has left, and I look forward to working with Mike Dutton.
My concern is regarding Paul Manzi. There seems to be some controversy regarding Oak Bluffs employees with contracts, of which Paul is one. I don't care about the politics regarding these contracts. I do care about the way the town is administered, financially. Paul Manzi has saved the town of Oak Bluffs millions of dollars since being hired. Paul was hired shortly after I became a member of the finance committee. The finances of Oak Bluffs were a disaster when Paul was hired. In the fall of 2002, not only were the books not closed for 2002, they were not closed for 2001. We didn't know what bills we had or what were paid or unpaid. The stabilization fund was dangerously low, and the financial future was much clouded.
Paul changed all that. He took care of the bills, closed out both years, and reorganized the decision making structure of the town finances. Since then, we have met every budget without overrides, had record amounts of free cash, paid every bill and - oh yes - the stabilization fund is now over $1 million and aiming for $1.5 million. The larger the stabilization fund, the lower the interest rate for borrowing and the greater the likelihood funds can be borrowed.
All I can say is, Wake up Oak Bluffs, and protect what you already have.
Links and memories
To the Editor:
With all the tragedy on television from the Middle East, it was a good change, with many fond memories, to gather around the TV recently and watch the final round of the British Open Golf Championship at Hoylake and West Kirby, the home of my wife, Anne. We had watched the first two rounds on the other Island and the final two here on the Vineyard.
What a wonderful trip down memory lane, seeing on international TV for four days places where Anne had played, walked, and sailed - the Dee Estuary, Hilbre Island (bird sanctuary), the heath, the gorse, the promenade, the ponies, the Welsh hills, the Liver Building in Liverpool (her father's office) with the largest clock in England for the sailors to see, the Royal Liverpool Golf Club where her father played and where she had watched the British Open in 1956.
My own experience with the Royal Liverpool was in August 1966. I was playing in a five-some with Anne's father, Woodley, who pointed out that a golf course near the sea is a links. After the first nine holes, I was so far ahead in total strokes my handicapped was increased to even out the competition. Encouraged by this confidence that the Brits had given me, my game picked up. I bogied the next hole and played well enough, including a par, to win the low net. I learned quickly that with this win, thanks to British generosity, I was the host for the post-golf celebration. A grand time was had with many toasts and questions to me about the Colonies and John Wayne. A memorable day.
Being married into a golfing family, it was not surprising that when we visited Anne's Aunt Minty in Wales that we would play a round of golf. As Anne, Mary (her mum), Minty and I approached the first tee at the Old Colwyn Golf Club, I noticed an elevated wire around a green. Minty told me it was to keep the sheep off the greens. Going to the third hole, we went through a gate with a sign that said, "Close the Gate - Cows." The ladies all hit long drives. I hit a drive which took an odd bounce into the wool of one of the sheep, who a bit startled ran about 50 yards before the ball dropped out - it was the longest drive of the day.
Generously, the ladies did not penalize me for sheep assistance. The day ended with fond memories and a grand view of the Welsh Hills and the Irish Sea.
Ask important questions
To the Editor:
Every day there is news about something overlooked that then causes one kind of serious negative event or another.
We can include immediately the Big Dig and all the corporate and federal accounting scandals (etc.). In every case there were many people or one person who tried to head off disasters or failures.
Each time their concerns were ignored, their jobs lost, their reputations injured - they were silenced, until their worst fears happened. We can only suppose how often we never hear these stories.
We must learn to treasure these courageous people who refuse to keep quiet, instead asking for and perhaps finding the truth.
Is it necessary to continually congratulate our town officials for what goes well and never ask important questions about problems? Thank you Kerry Scott and all others who care.
Ann L. Margetson
To the Editor:
The Fish Farm for Haiti Project held its annual Treasure Sale on July 22. It was a great success. We extend our gratitude to Chris and Sheila Morse for donating the use of the space of the former Middletown Nursery. The close proximity of the location to State Road, along with the roadside sign donated by Melissa and John Patterson of About Signs & Design, certainly contributed to the success of the sale.
We are thankful for the incredible outpouring of generosity of our Island community. We received an array of beautiful donated treasures of all kinds. Heirlooms, memorabilia, furniture both antique and everyday yet still in good condition; jewelry, collections of dolls and carvings; games, books, and much, much more! All these treasures were gifts from the heart from our Island community to the poor of the poorest country in our hemisphere - Haiti.
We are also thankful for the weather! Shopping at the Fish Farm for Haiti Treasure Sale was the perfect pastime for both young and old on an overcast day. The stream of shoppers was steady and whole families turned out for the event. There was something there for everybody or at least the fun of looking for a treasure!
We could not have had the sale without our team of dedicated volunteers: Bill and Marie Connelly and their sons-in-laws, Nancy Billings, Marianne Greene, Nancy Davies, Susie Abel, Beverly Potsaid, Nancy Dorcey, and Kerry Brenner and his son. Also special thanks to Ken Vincent, artist in residence, and to Karen Flynn of The Bite for a delicious finish with lunch for all of the volunteers at the end of the day!!
Last but not least we would like to thank the Martha's Vineyard Times for listing our events and getting the word out. We appreciate your ongoing support! Our next fund-raising event for the Fish Farm for Haiti Project is our Haitian Art Sale Benefit. We invite the public to come to Featherstone Center for the Arts on August 25 for wine and hors d'oeuvres, live Haitian music by Rick Bausman and his ensemble, and preview the Haitian paintings and metalwork which we will be on sale through August 27. One hundred percent of the proceeds will help feed and educate the children of Haiti.
Little Children of Mary
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to Michael Burns's 7/27 letter titled "Mopeds defended." He says that a moped is a motor vehicle and one needs a driver's license to operate it. In fact, all a person needs is a learner's permit to operate one; they need only to be 16 with a learner's permit. All they need to do is answer 14 of the 20 questions right. No experience required; no supervision. They may need a license to rent one, but again no experience is required. The only experience needed to rent and ride is a valid credit card, a good check, or plenty of cash.
He wrote that mopeds can't do 45 mph and that's why they usually travel at 25-30 mph. Again I believe that's wrong. They travel at 25-30 mph because most them don't have any experience, and don't know what they are doing. I've seen a lot of moped operators riding towards me, nothing behind them, with the look of fear on their faces like a kid learning to ride a bike. They don't have control and they're wobbling all over the place. The only problem is they are not riding a bicycle, they are riding a motor driven vehicle. But unlike other motor driven vehicles, cars, pickup trucks, motorcycles, they don't need to be insured. So if you are one of the unfortunate ones that have an accident with one, your insurance pays.
About young macho men 20-27 and our local cowboys that operate taxi cabs, nowhere in your letter do you condemn the ignorant cowboy moped operators. The 20-27 year old macho men on their mopeds act like they're riding a Harley, or a rice burning crotch rocket. To miss them, you must be driving with your eyes closed. Why no complaints about these moped cowboys that ride two, three, or five abreast so cars can't pass them safely. Or, when you do come to a passing zone, these make believe Harley riders will pull into the passing lane just to block you.
There would be less animosity shown towards moped operators, and fewer close calls if out of respect of sharing the roads moped operators would just move to the right as far as they safely can so the faster cars, trucks, and even taxis could pass. As for your remark about the SUV being on a truck chassis, you're right, but it's built on a pickup truck chassis. Most people know no special license is needed to drive a pickup.
Now, I have driven many types of vehicles, from fire trucks to mopeds, from backhoes to pickup trucks, from streetcars to stockcars. So I believe I'm more than qualified to say mopeds are not dangerous. It's the person that operates them, that makes them dangerous. I don't know what is more dangerous, the inexperienced people that operate them, or the owners of the moped rental places that allow these inexperienced people to operate them for that almighty dollar. But like most people I believe they should have a motorcycle license to operate one and they should have to be insured.