Letters to the Editor
housing be built
To the Editor:
This is a response to Lionel Spiro's comments as quoted in The Martha's Vineyard Times article dated Aug. 3, entitled "Judge will not reconsider Chappy housing decision."
Mr. Spiro and nine other neighbors have sued Edgartown and the Island Housing Trust in an effort to stop three young families from building their homes each on a one-acre lot.
Mr. Spiro said that it is an unfortunate situation because many circumstances have not been discussed in the press. He says that the plaintiffs have all worked hard and have concerns about protecting their investments.
He further states that the plaintiffs are eager to see the recipients settled in their homes and to move on. He says that the plaintiffs are decent, caring people who are hopeful that discussions will soon resolve this nightmare.
Our response to Mr. Spiro's comments is as follows:
The press since last July didn't create the legal battle which has kept three deserving families out of their homes and cost the taxpayers of Edgartown tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses.
It is everyone's responsibility to protect his/her investments but, in our opinion, it is immoral to prevent a neighbor from building his/her home if he/she is legally entitled to do so.
He says that the plaintiffs are eager to see the recipients settled in their homes. However, during a Chappaquiddick Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee meeting on July 6, 2005, Mr. Spiro announced that Chappaquiddick had already achieved its quota of affordable homes and didn't need more.
Mr. Spiro refers to the need for further discussion. In our view, we need no more discussion. The plaintiffs should immediately: stop posturing and drop their legal appeal; apologize, as best they can, to the recipients; and reimburse Edgartown for all the money the taxpayers have been forced to spend defending themselves from this frivolous lawsuit.
The 10 plaintiffs are George Mellendick, James Williams, William O'Connell, Paul Wales, Robert and Cheryl Finkelstein, Frank and Karen Gazarian, Cornelia Dean, and Lionel Spiro.
Bob and Fran Clay
Someone else must revive the
To the Editor:
To back up the letter titled "Savior needed" (M.V. Times, Aug.3):
I too am a fan of the flickering movie, the funky seats, the intimacy of a small theater. My fiancé and I bought a fixer-upper last year on Lake Street, so excited were we at the prospect of summer strolls and winter hikes to the Capawock. We're practicing our patience and trying to not give up hope.
I've lived on Island for 17 years now. V.H. is not the same without the Capawock. My letter is another plea to the Halls. What about this idea:
Sell the Capawock to someone who really cares about the Island culture and economy.
You have made claims in the past that you cannot afford the restoration needed for the theater. That you are working as best as you can to obtain the funds, but are unable to generate them. Well, maybe it's time to stop putting just your interests first. The Islanders, let alone the business community of V.H., have been patient long enough.
At this point, it is my opinion that you are being quite selfish, and it is unfair to many and hurting the economy of a whole town. Why not do the right thing and sell the Capawock to a wealthy individual who cares about the town and movie culture, and could use a tax write-off with the costs of the restoration and the losses (if there are any) at the end of the year. Maybe this is what you're doing right now with the losses generated, but have no interests except your own.
I feel it is unacceptable what you are doing to the town, and all of us who would love a night at the movies, which includes aging projectors and funky seats without cup holders. Never mind the fact that it seems you are burnt out on the whole movie theater business anyway. Seems you could make a pretty profit by selling; what do you have to loose? The ability to exert some control of the economy of a town, the title "owner of the defunct Capawock", or maybe a tax write-off for your other commercial properties not generating profit? There, I said it. I can't take it any longer.
I think the town should take it by eminent domain. There, I said that too. I can think of two or three people that would love to have a chance at running the movie theater. How about it? Wouldn't it be nice to have people stop writing about you with disdain in the paper? Do the right thing. Let it go to someone who cares and can fix it "for reel."
We need to sing
To the Editor:
I was dismayed by last week's article about another noise dispute in downtown Oak Bluffs. Sure, it's hard not to sympathize with young children kept awake by loud music, but when it comes to guests at a new inn on Kennebec Avenue, my sympathy dies on the grapevine.
How could visitors to downtown Oak Bluffs expect silence after 10 pm? And should their unrealistic expectations trump the good time of hundreds of other people? After all, its fun atmosphere is part of the town's draw; for a good night's sleep, there's plenty of less central lodging.
Summer business owners may disagree, but as a year-round resident, I think a lot about the quality of life not just for the occasional guest but for Islanders of all ages. Little Pete's is a breath of fresh air on Kennebec, a much-needed venue for Island musicians and a vital gathering place for people who aren't on vacation.
Are these whining neighbors really going to go on record against local bands like Lucy Vincent, against local business owners like Pete Bradford? Oak Bluffs isn't just a giant cash register by the sea - it's a real place, and for a long time it's been the town on the island where real people go to have fun.
If you own an inn next to a nightspot, potential guests should be informed before they book a room. Some of them won't be turned off at all, and those who are will stay elsewhere and be spared the discomfort of a sleepless night. Simple enough, right?
The few remaining establishments which provide live music benefit the whole community and its deep, very human need to sing and dance late into the night. What deep communal need is filled by the Madison Inn?
All the news
To the Editor:
Is this a welcome to August? Aug. 2, 2006, my newspapers, The Boston Globe and the New York Times, were delivered to the end of my driveway just as they have been every other day of the year, thanks to my wonderfully faithful and hardworking paper deliverers. In the winter months, I scoop them up and read them with breakfast - a daily link to the rest of the world. In the summer months I sometimes don't get to read them until the early evening because I am busy. Today, I know they were delivered because I drove past them while exiting my driveway at least twice, yet when I went to pick them up from my driveway at 6 pm they were gone. To whomever took them: I hope you got ink on your self.
To the Editor:
I needed to write this letter about a wonderful lady who helped me out on July 26, 2006. My plane arrived at Logan Airport from Daytona Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, July 26, 2006, and the Bonanza bus to Woods Hole was running late due to the tunnel problems and traffic. I am disabled and suffer from severe back pain and nerve damage down both legs, as well as walking with special crutches.
On the Bonanza bus this unidentified lady, seeing that I was having difficulty due to my traveling, had offered to go into the Steamship Authority to purchase a ticket for me since we were arriving with just a few minutes to spare before the boat was to leave. This would make sure I was able to board then, instead of having to wait for the next boat.
When I met her where they were collecting the tickets to board she refused to take any money for the ticket. Needless to say, I was shocked and very thankful for what she had done for me!
This is a very rare thing to see nowadays. Usually everyone is in a rush, and I get bumped, pushed, my crutches kicked, and left behind. It was a breath of fresh air to know their are still people out there willing to slow down and extend a hand to someone, especially a complete stranger. I wish that more people could follow her lead.
Since I do not know her name, I hope she is still on Martha's Vineyard to see this heartfelt than-you.
Robert S. Reed 3rd
Palm Coast, Florida
To the Editor:
What, if anything, should be done about the "Blinker" - the intersection of Barnes Road and the Edgartown -Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs?
Some say that the four-way stop is working fine, traffic back-ups are very occasional and this is a safe solution, so why change it. Others say that traffic congestion is a real, everyday problem including off-season, that this is not the safest design, and that current delays pose public safety concerns.
The Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen asked the Martha's Vineyard Commission to analyze the present situation and options for improvement, and the Board is holding a public meeting this week to hear what Islanders think of these options.
The Commission prepared a report that analyzes five options:
The present situation, a four-way stop with the existing geometry;
A four-way stop with a right-turn lane from Vineyard Haven to Barnes Road;
A traffic signal with the existing geometry;
A traffic signal with four turn lanes;
A modern roundabout.
Presently about 25,000 vehicles go through the intersection on a summer day and about 14,000 during the winter, with about 60 percent on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. There can be 50-100 bikes per hour on a summer afternoon.
Safety: The change from a two-way to a four-way stop has cut the accident rate by more than half. The problem with two-way stops and traffic signals is that half the traffic continues to travel at a high speed, so when accidents happen, they are more likely to have serious consequences. Roundabouts have the lowest accident rate, primarily because the tight geometry means all drivers are forced to slow down to about biking speed, 15-18 mph. One study showed that roundabouts have 39 percent fewer accidents than right-angled intersections, 76 percent fewer accidents with injuries, and 90 percent fewer accidents with fatalities. Though it is counterintuitive because vehicles remain in movement (albeit slow), experience indicates that roundabouts are safest for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Delay and Congestion: Observations last summer indicated delays averaging eight minutes and going up to 20 minutes during summertime peak hours, with the longest delay approaching from Vineyard Haven. When the drawbridge is closed for repair, backups at the "Blinker" extend well past the Tisbury town line.
In the past, emergency vehicles and truckers counted on using the Island's relatively free-flowing interior roads to avoid the often-clogged intersections in town or along the water, such as Five Corners. A concern is that increasing congestion at the Blinker eliminates this safe route - say, to the Hospital - and also induces many motorists to travel along those alternate routes, resulting in traffic and safety problems in more heavily populated, pedestrian-oriented areas such as downtown Vineyard Haven, downtown Oak Bluffs, and along the beaches. The two options that would have the most positive impact on relieving congestion are the traffic signal with additional turning lanes and the roundabout. The four-way stop is by far the worst for congestion, even with the additional turn lane.
Air Quality: The next criterion used for analyzing the options was air quality. Automobile emissions and air pollution are increased when vehicles idle while waiting in stop-and-go traffic, at a traffic signal, or at a stop sign. The four-way stop option has the most negative impact because of the congestion and because all vehicles are obliged to stop. A traffic signal is somewhat better because it reduces stop-and-go traffic and allows half the vehicles to go through the intersection without stopping. A roundabout would have the best air quality impact because, although vehicles slow down, they generally do not stop, and because there is the least overall congestion.
Character and Landscaping: The intersection is already a relatively vast expanse of asphalt and would maintain its current character with the options that preserve the existing geometry. The two options that add turning lanes would add even more paved areas. The outer dimensions of the roundabout would be about the same as the current paved area, but it would have a planted area in the middle, somewhat like the triangular planted areas at the ends of Lambert's Cove Road and other Island intersections.
Cost: The cheapest option is, of course, the status quo. The options with the lane widenings would cost between $300,000 and $400,000, in part because it would apparently be necessary to relocate a telephone-switching box. Whichever option is chosen, MassHighway would fund the construction costs out of the Island's annual budget for transportation improvements; the Town would be responsible for the relatively modest design fee.
Public Support: A 2004 Vineyard public opinion survey indicated that only 40 percent of year-round residents and 34 percent of seasonal residents favored installing traffic signals on the Island. There was a petition against a 2004 proposal to build a roundabout, indicating public misgivings about this alternative. This is not unusual before a roundabout is built, especially in the Northeast where the public often confuses them with the much larger and dangerous rotaries. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that, "American motorists often say they don't like roundabouts, but experience quickly wins them over." Researchers surveyed drivers before and after several roundabouts were built. "The proportion of drivers in favor doubled overall, from 31 percent before construction to 63 percent after. Those who were strongly opposed dropped from 41 to 15 percent."
The Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen would really appreciate receiving comments from the Island community so it can make a decision in early September. A public information meeting will be held on Thursday, August 10 at 3 pm in the Oak Bluffs Library. The report can be downloaded from the MVC web site consulted at libraries, or obtained from Oak Bluffs Town Hall and the MVC.
Duncan Ross, Chairman
Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen
Martha's Vineyard Commission.
To the Editor:
Now, perhaps more than ever, community health centers can stand proud of the 40-year history of providing high-quality, accessible and affordable health care to vulnerable populations, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. National Health Center Week, August 6-12, 2006, "Celebrating Patient Voice and Community Choice," focuses attention on the ever-increasing responsive role community health centers play in reducing barriers to health-care access for all populations of the local communities they serve. Community involvement and support of the local health center results in a partnership to address local health concerns in a cost-effective manner. At a time when health care costs are soaring, health centers benefit communities by providing preventative care, thereby reducing the dependence on more costly visits to emergency rooms and hospitals. While Boston has the distinction of being the site of one of the very first community health centers in the nation, closer to home, the Cape & Vineyard Community Health Center Network (CVCHCNet) is presently leading the way in integrating a continuum of care, including primary, specialty, behavioral, and oral health on Cape Cod. The mission of the Cape & Vineyard Community Health Center Network is to share resources, improve services and reduce health disparities to the underserved populations on Cape Cod. Acting as a collaborative planning and service delivery model, members of the Cape & Vineyard Community Health Center Network include: Cape Cod Free Clinic & Community Health Center, Duffy Health Center, Island Health Care, Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center and Ellen Jones Community Dental Center, and Outer Cape Health Services. Last year, together the health centers accounted for almost 100,000 patient visits, addressing specific health-care needs of their communities! Present health initiatives include: Community Care for Depression, which provides diagnosis and treatment for anxiety and depression at the primary care level for low-income, uninsured, homeless, and immigrant populations; Diabetes Collaborative, providing diagnosis and treatment for underserved minority populations with diabetes; and Specialty Network for the Uninsured, a community-wide effort to connect low income, uninsured individuals to specialty care and reduced fees for diagnostics and procedures. The Commonwealth's recent passage of the Health Care Reform Act will significantly increase the role of community health centers. The number of uninsured individuals on Cape Cod is among the state's highest due to the seasonal tourism, service and construction businesses' inability to offer insurance to their employees. Yet complex and chronic health problems continue to increase in our Cape communities, many geographically distant from major health-care centers. Health Care Reform will result in more individuals with access to health insurance and more individuals will seek medical services. Local community health centers anticipate a rise in demand for health care. More than ever, communities must publicly support and invest in our local health centers to keep pace with the increased demands for services, rising operational and non-reimbursable costs, and the continual need for funding, which is necessary to close the gap between the cost of care to the community health centers and the rate of reimbursement they receive. The Cape & Vineyard Community Health Center Network joins in celebrating the history and accomplishments of health centers over the past 40 years by promoting National Health Center Week, August 6-12, 2006. As a group of local, non-profit, community-governed health care providers, we are committed to providing high-quality, accessible, and affordable health-care services, regardless of ability to pay, to all residents on Cape Cod. For more information, visit www.nach.com/about/aboutcenters.asp.
Island Health Care
Who's to blame
for high gas prices?
To the Editor:
A recent article (Vineyard Gazette, July 28, 2006) regarding gas prices would lead you to believe that local gas retailers have their hands tied as far as pricing goes. Mr. Packer says, "If I could sell for less, I would." Mr. Rotondo from Airport Mobil says he actually "makes less money when prices increase." You almost feel sorry for him.
The main reason for the high prices, they both say, is the added cost of shipping the gas to our Island, seven miles out at sea. Thank goodness I don't live on Nantucket. The extra 15 miles to our sister island must boost the price to nearly five dollars a gallon. Mr. Packer says, "Nothing is cheap here."
We all know the average real estate price on Nantucket is $200,000 more than the Vineyard, and surely gas prices reflect the extra cost of living on (and shipping to) Nantucket. I had to know. I called Mid-Island Fuel on Nantucket. They sell regular unleaded gas for the outrageous price of $3.46 a gallon. This is only 2 cents more than Falmouth. Does Nantucket have a pipeline or secret oil reserves? Perhaps the town subsidizes gas stations with all that extra property tax they collect. The most reasonable scenario is that Vineyarders are being taken for a very costly ride, including Mr. Packer and Mr. Rotondo, because obviously their suppliers are hosing them. Or are they the ones holding the hose?
A fireside chat
To the Editor:
Dr. Jane Goodall spent time on the Island last week with environmental scientists, planners, local businesses, and teachers to talk about how to face challenges on the Vineyard. At a historical gathering at the home of Martha Shaw on Farm Pond in Oak Bluffs, Dr. Goodall gave local leaders - from the MV Commission, Vineyard Conservation Society, Water Alliance, Sheriffs Meadow, Land Bank, Great Pond, OB Shellfish, Farm Institute, Wampanoag Tribe, Friends of Farm Pond, Felix Neck Sanctuary, Mass Audubon, grocers, and farmers - plenty of reasons for hope.
For a small Island that is still building over 200 new houses a year and has long passed its capacity to sustain its inhabitants, including the fish and fowl, hope is the catalyst that keeps the people who are trying to manage the resources getting up and going to work every day. The group sat around a small campfire, and passed a talking stick while sharing stories with the woman who has won most every accolade on the planet as an ambassador of hope for an environmentally sustainable future.
"How can we pull the community together when the interests on the Island are so diverse, and where many of the people don't stay long enough to understand the issues?" asked one participant in the group.
"Keep finding new ways to communicate," she responded.
"What about egos?" asked another.
"I like some chimps better than certain people, and some people better than certain chimps," said Jane. "But there is usually a way to reach everybody if you take the time to think about it."
What was most striking about Dr. Goodall was her peaceful approach to confrontation and the embedded messages in the countless stories she had to tell about her experiences around the world with communities not unlike the Island, where enormous wealth and meager subsistence collide, and the natural resources are in peril. "If you can get people to want less, not more," she said, "to think about what they need rather than pressuring the resources with excess."
One biologist spoke about the need for funding to study the coastal ecosystems before we can correct the harm done by nitrogen loading, the obstruction of natural tides that flush them out, and other human effects. "The Vineyard is a collection of coastal ponds," another observed. "The Island could be called 'coastal pondia.' What does Nantucket have? Two? Our lagoons define us." A discussion ensued that concluded that many of what seem to be unique problems are united by nature.
The gathering around the fire wrapped up at about 11 pm with a reminder from Jane that the issues on the Island and around the world have much in common and are all interconnected. Her Roots and Shoots program creates the foundation in over 90 countries for dialogue and hope. She wished the Island well and promised to return.
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to President Bush.
We Americans are behaving disgracefully!
It's a disgrace how we are killing (or aiding killers) around the world. It's a disgrace how we are polluting our air, water, soil, and food. It's a disgrace how we are causing global warming, and letting it continue.
It's a disgrace how we are turning our backs on worldwide poverty and illness.
It's a disgrace how we are robbing the poor (in America and other countries) to aid the rich.
It's a disgrace how we are wasting oil and other natural resources. It's a disgrace how I am suspected of being a bad guy for writing a letter like this.
To the Editor:
My name is Edwin P. Dewing. I live on Chappy. I have been a landowner and taxpayer since 1990. I am disgusted with bike riders that do not pay attention to signs.
There are two signs, orange and black, on Upper Main Street by the Depot Market in Edgartown that say "Please No Bikes. Walk, By Order of Edgartown Police Department."
Edwin P. Dewing
To the Editor:
On behalf of the staff at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Child Care and Learning Center, we would like to thank the owners of the Riley's Reads book store in Vineyard Haven for their generous donation of books to our center.
I highly recommend that teachers and parents go view this wonderful store. I personally have bought many books for my classroom, and the children are in awe of the books I have chosen for them. The store is very well organized, books are wonderfully displayed, and the owners are very helpful.
Thank you again for your donation.