Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
On a classic New England morning last week, seven friends and I headed off Martha's Vineyard in search of bluefin tuna, hoping to fend off summer's end for one last day.
Instead of a cooler full of fish, though, what I returned with was a renewed and very personal appreciation for the unparalleled medical care available in this region, as well as for the generosity of friends and complete strangers.
I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all those who offered their assistance after the accident on Thursday that severely injured my hand.
That morning, with my 36-footer under the experienced command of Capt. Jim Lodge, we cruised about 20 miles off Gay Head only to discover the tuna had other plans. So we headed in, picking another spot off the south side of the Vineyard where half a dozen other boaters were eyeing bluefish and stripers.
As Jim prepared the fishing lines, I went to work anchoring the boat. That's when my finger became caught in the motorized anchor line.
We always play by the rules on the water, but I suspect the harbormaster will cut us slack for causing a slight wake as Jim sped us into Menemsha Harbor, after radioing ahead for medical help. At dockside, we were met by EMTs who rushed me to Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
It is my great fortune to count Dr. Gary Gibbons, a vascular surgeon and head of Quincy Medical Center, as my dearest friend. We reached Gary, and after consulting with the emergency room physician, the doctors decided I needed a Med-flight to Boston.
When we arrived, our neighbors at Boston Medical Center, just down the road from the Herald, provided excellent care. Hand surgeon Dr. Andy Stein performed the procedure on my finger. He and Dr. Mike Hurwitz, who led the anesthesia team, have my eternal gratitude.
Likewise, their colleagues - Paul Drew, the doctors and nurses and staff in the emergency department, the pre-operative holding area, the operating room and the recovery room. I am grateful to all of them.
Sincere thanks and appreciation to my friends who were with me when the accident happened, to the dispatch staff and the officers of the Chilmark Police Department, the emergency staff at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the Med-flight staff and pilot, as well as the Tri-Town Ambulance crew who went out of their way to help everyone involved. Even a couple of strangers, Betsy and John McCoubrey, drove two of my colleagues across Island to the hospital. So much for frosty New Englanders.
Gary tells me I'm incredibly lucky - it could have been much worse. Even under the influence of pain medication, I know he is absolutely right.
You know, living in the Boston area, we sometimes take for granted the medical resources available to any one of us on a moment's notice - that we can be enjoying the company of friends and family in one instant, and if called for, just a few hours later be under the care of the nation's top medical professionals
And as we lead our busy lives, we sometimes overlook the willingness of our friends, family, even strangers to rush to our aid.
After my experience last week, I can no longer do either. Thank you, all.
Edgartown and Boston
Editor's Note: Pat Purcell is the publisher of the Boston Herald.
To the Editor:
The recent articles that appeared in both of the Island papers about the ticketing of vehicles along the Joseph Sylvia State Beach Road failed to point out the absolute necessity to protect the beach grass and other plantings if the barrier beach is to survive.
The beach grass anchors and stabilizes the dunes. If for lack of vegetation the dunes are damaged or breached, the Beach Road and the pond side beach could be in danger. In the past, Friends of Sengekontacket Inc. (FOS), with the help of the county and many volunteers, has actually planted thousands of culms of beach grass, which have helped to stabilize both beaches.
Unfortunately, in part because of lack of county funds, the beach was not protected by adequate fencing and temporary seasonal roping to discourage some beach users from parking on portions of the beach. This resulted in serious damage to beach grass and other plantings, which caused the county to issue the disputed parking tickets. The county has the responsibility to maintain and protect the beach.
Representatives of FOS meet regularly with Winn Davis, county manager, who has reported that the county will commence the construction and installation of fencing to protect substantial portions of the beach prior to next spring.
FOS will initiate an educational program during the coming year to increase public awareness of the critical necessity for healthy beach grass, the problem of beach erosion, and preserving beach stability. We believe that thoughtful information will be well received by most of the users of the beach who will help us all protect this wonderful resource.
As in the past, FOS will continue to collaborate with representatives of the towns of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, Dukes County, the Martha's Vineyard Commission, and many Massachusetts state agencies in the serious pursuit of our mission to help protect and preserve a healthy Sengekontacket Pond, its barrier beach and Trapp's Pond.
Albert H. Hap Hamel
Friends of Sengekontacket Inc.
To the Editor:
In the Sept. 28, 2006, issue of The Times under "DPW, Tisbury selectmen at odds," selectman Tom Pachico is quoted in a phone interview as saying, "It's supposed to be the selectmen running the town. We're the owners of the house, and DPW commissioners are the contractors." Well the selectman is partially correct about legally running the town, but he errs gravely on the ownership issue.
Selectmen Pachico, Tristan Israel, and Denys Wortman, along with town administrator John Bugbee, are only tenants of the house, not the owners. They each have a three-year lease. The residents of the town of Tisbury are the owners, period. The lease states that they are to keep the house in good repair during their tenure. No pets allowed.
When did our government officials stop fearing its people and become so pejorative? Well, in Tisbury it occurred when we allowed our representatives to act egoistically on behalf of their own political agendas. The people became complacent and allowed government officials to make the decisions for them rather than to base decisions on fact and act independently of town officials. Just ask the Tisbury DPW, Tisbury Water Works, Edgartown Police Department and the Steamship Authority, how they cope with the Tisbury selectmen, their administration and their personal agendas.
Interesting how greed, political power, and money pit elected officials against elected officials, all in the spirit of protecting the public interest. Next time you hear a selectman or town administrator tell you that they are challenging another elected board on behalf of the public good, the phrase immediately following that statement that should pop into your mind is, "and hear is the jar of Vaseline you will need for us to implement our plan".
Maybe it's time for the "contractors" to walk off the job. Then let's see if the "tenant" can finish the project. The only loser in this state of affairs is the "owner."
Editor's Note: Deacon Perrotta is superintendent of the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs water departments.
A family and
To the Editor:
The Steeple Fund Capital Campaign of the Federated Church of Edgartown recently held an All Church Family Barbecue and Art Auction, and it was a great success.
The children of the Sunday school drew their own pictures of our historic Meetinghouse, matted and framed them, and they were wonderful. There was an enthusiastic silent auction for these, with 31 very happy winners. We had many artists and parishioners donate works of art of every medium, for a live auction, and a great time was had by all. Jerry Fritz was a terrific auctioneer, and Peter Boak a fine spotter. Julie Moffet turned out a wonderful barbecue, and Jim and Debbie Athearn of Morning Glory Farm were extremely supportive with a huge donation of their wonderful corn, pies, and baked breads. We are thankful for all of these.
The Steeple Fund would like to thank The Martha's Vineyard Times for their pictorial highlighting of this event, above and beyond their "Save the Date" column, and most especially for sending Ralph Stewart, unannounced to us, to cover it. It was a pleasure having him with us, covering our wonderful church family and friends event.
Return the rock
To the Editor:
Someone stole a rock off the stonewall at the entrance to my driveway off Lambert's Cove Road.
Hey, what's a rock? They're all over the place, right? Big deal. Well, yes, but this one rock had some real sentimental value to me. Please put it back.
To the Editor:
Congratulations to the winners of the photography contest sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank in celebration of its 20th anniversary. James Lengyel has said that it really means something to people to have the freedom to wander and explore on our Land Bank properties.
When I first read about the contest some months back, I, like Mr. Lengyel, thought the idea sounded like "swell fun." I decided I wanted to take a picture of a certain 580-foot bridge built on Land Bank property on a two-acre parcel in Chilmark. Wouldn't it be nice for people to have at least a peek at all the possibilities of what that extra, tacked on two percent goes toward from their real estate purchases? That two percent means quite a lot to most people, but since it is for the Land Bank, it is good for everyone equally. That's what we'd all like to believe.
Unfortunately, I was not able to snap that photo of the bridge. Even though I am an abutter to this two-acre Land Bank parcel, I cannot access the bridge without trespassing on my next-door neighbor's property. You see, my neighbors are the only ones who can use this piece of public land because they are the only ones who can get to it. In order to build the bridge, my neighbors obtained permission from the Land Bank, from the Chilmark conservation commission (con com), and, after being pressured, put on the spot, and then changing her mind, from the original seller to the Land Bank.
The seller initially had an agreement with the Land Bank that that two-acre property would not be used at all (never mind built on) while she continued to live in her home. However, since this purchased Land Bank property now provided a direct connection between one influential family's otherwise contiguous private parcels of land, certain allowances were made. The rich family, the Land Bank, and the Chilmark con com all decided that agreements can be broken, and that a private family can indeed exclusively use and build on this public property.
Despite the complaints and the concerns raised at the time of the permitting for the bridge, the shortsighted decision to allow the bridge contributed to enabling unchecked, trophy development. It is also a fact that the permit for the bridge was obtained from the Chilmark con com improperly.
The application to the con com should have come from the property owner, the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank. It did not. Instead, the applicant was a lawyer and happened to be an employee of the wealthy family that wanted access to the public property for their personal purposes. How'd that happen? When my attorney sent a letter to Mr. Lengyel, informing him, among other things, that the bridge permit was obtained improperly, Mr. Lengyel chose to ignore the letter, driving home the strong impression that some people are just more equal than others. But all this is water under the bridge.
The bridge was built anyway. Mr. Lengyel was quoted in the newspaper, last year, saying that he planned to open the bridge property to the public by March of 2006. It never happened. I must report that I heard the squeals of children running across that bridge all during this past summer, and last summer, too. But these were not "public" children.
Regardless, I never dreamed that any of the two percent tacked onto buyers' real estate transactions could go toward allowing only one wealthy family to exclusively use and build on Land Bank property purchased with the public's money. This is a very bad mark for the Land Bank, and it needs to be corrected.
So, while the rest of us have some freedom to wander and explore on Land Bank property, the public should know that some people, despite anyone's two percent, have more freedom than others. Two out of nearly 2,700 Land Bank acres are a negligible fraction. But, the two acres with the bridge are Martha's Vineyard Land Bank property.
I really wanted to enter the photo contest and take a picture of that bridge, but, alas, I couldn't. I hate when that happens. But even if I'd had the opportunity, I doubt that any picture I could have taken would have come close to the serene beauty of the photographs of those who did enter and did win. Congrats again to all the winners. It was swell fun seeing the winning photos.
Editor's Note: Following is a description of the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank's acquisition, ownership, and management of the former Tabor land off North Road. According to Land Bank executive director James Lengyel, the Land Bank bought two lots from June Tabor in December 2002. Mrs. Tabor lived on an adjoining third lot. The 2002 acquisition was conditional on the Land Bank's agreement that there would be no public access provided to the Tabor land while Mrs. Tabor lived on her property. The Tabor purchase expanded the Land Bank's Peaked Hill Reservation. Mr. Lengyel said this week that the long-range plan was to create a walking trail from Peaked Hill to North Road.
The smaller of the two Tabor parcels, just 201 feet wide, intervened between two lots owned by Laurie and Larry David. With Mrs. Tabor's agreement, the Land Bank permitted the Davids to construct a footbridge over the new Land Bank property (formerly Tabor). The bridge makes it possible for David family and guests to walk from one David parcel to the other. In exchange, the Davids gave the bridge to the Land Bank and provided a trail easement across their property to North Road at no cost to the Land Bank. The earlier agreement with Mrs. Tabor postponing public access as long as she occupies the nearby property she has retained remains in force. Eventually, Mr. Lengyel explains, the walking trail from Peaked Hill to North Road, including the footbridge, will be opened to the public.
To the Editor:
The following letter is in response to the Letter to the Editor from Matthew Arieta ("I apologize," Sept. 21).
We accept your apology.
While an unfortunate incident led to our meeting you, please know that we are entirely satisfied with the way you conducted yourself to make amends.
We also are aware that other adults acted poorly at the Kids Day Derby; however, you are the only individual to take responsibility and issue an apology. We commend you for this.
We hope that you will be able to put this issue behind you. Sadly, the incident was blown out of proportion and caused unnecessary grief and unfair reaction. We do not, nor ever did, believe that the event was ruined. No disciplinary action was necessary, and we never considered issuing any.
Many of us have been fortunate to meet you while you have volunteered at the Derby fillet program. Your letter of apology in The Martha's Vineyard Times provided a hint as to the type of person you are. Meeting you in person reinforced this. We appreciate the honest, sincere, and thoughtful manner in which you handled yourself during a difficult time. Nobody could reasonably expect any more from you. You did the right thing, and you did it the right way. We hope that the community joins us in recognizing this, for it should not be overlooked.
The Derby strives to promote good sportsmanship, responsibility, and fair play. You demonstrated these qualities while providing a good example of how to right a wrong. We look forward to seeing you again at Derby headquarters, where you are always welcome.
Chairman for the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby Committee, 2006
To the Editor:
I think that the Steamship or any ferries should inform passengers that Martha's Vineyard Transit buses do not give change.
Editorial support for roundabout
To the Editor:
News of the Oak Bluffs selectmen's decision to build a roundabout at the Blinker sent me hunting through old computer files.
I soon found the text of an editorial I had proposed to my then-news editor at the Vineyard Gazette, Julia Wells, during my last week with the paper two years ago. She rejected it; in fact, the Gazette went on to take quite a different editorial position.
My working title was "Roundabout Solutions." I've re-read the piece and still feel pretty good about it. Here it is:
"One of the strongest forces at play in the Vineyard's collective psyche is our skepticism about change. Rooted in an appreciation for the already wonderful qualities of Island life, this instinct has prevented all sorts of damage to the community over the years. But there are times when our skepticism needs to be tempered by a receptivity to new and creative solutions. In fact, there are moments when only new solutions will serve to protect the qualities of Island life that we all hold so dear.
"So it is with the public discussion now under way concerning the blinker in Oak Bluffs. A year ago, when it was clear that this intersection was failing from standpoints of both traffic flow and public safety, the town converted the blinker to a four-way stop, and this improved the situation dramatically. Now town leaders are considering the further step of conversion to a roundabout, and some critics of this plan are questioning whether the step is justified.
"An hour spent with that most amazing of modern research tools, the Internet, opens a whole new perspective on roundabouts. The first revelation is that we need an entirely new frame of reference for this discussion, because the most common misperception about modern roundabouts turns out to be that they are like traffic circles, those dreaded rotaries we encounter on each trip into Cape Cod. In fact, modern roundabouts have a much smaller diameter than rotaries, which results in lower speeds and safer conditions.
"Proper design is critical for a safe and smooth-flowing roundabout, and the literature on this new species of intersection is impressive. You'll need a glossary to wade through such neologisms as channelization, entry angles, queuing conflicts, and volume-to-capacity ratio. But in the end, roundabouts are all about the term that sounds most attractive where the Vineyard summer crush is concerned: traffic calming.
"Mark London, director of the Martha's Vineyard Commission, has made a persuasive case for roundabouts. One of his central points was that state money for this project - money we helped raise with our gasoline taxes - is available right now. This is a moment when setting aside its skepticism and entertaining a new possibility might be the healthiest thing the Vineyard community can do."
To the Editor:
Your Sept. 21 Editorial on taxes and fairness was excellent. It offered an important point of view and suggests questions that should be considered by the folks in Vineyard Haven. Should we continue shifting the real estate tax burden from residences to businesses and from residential property owned by year-round residents to property owned by seasonal residents. Is it a good policy? Is it doing the right thing?
Originally promoted as a 10 percent write-down of year-round resident assessments, it is now a 20 percent write-down of assessed value. While it is natural to favor the lowering of your taxes, the argument, tinged in a suggestion of wealth inequity, is not grounded in fairness and is unbecoming to our town.
In years past, a number of folks would attend a public hearing in advance of the selectmen's vote on continuing the 20 percent tax policy. Based on those speaking, it was clear that it was not a simple matter of the "rich folks can pay more." Included were native-born Islanders who cited their personal circumstances that required residency "off-Island" (or even in another town), due to jobs, marriage, service, etc. Noted were the desires to hold on to the Island homes they grew up in, visiting as often as possible and thinking of, some day, a return in retirement. Others, longtime summer residents, spoke of the low service burden they place on the town and a feeling of being unfairly discriminated against.
I spoke of my Boston visit with the chief-of-staff of the tax committee at the State House on the Chapter 59 Code that allows inequitable real estate taxes. That individual confided that due to unique political reasons, attempts to restore fairness to that law were blocked and that "it was thought to be the singularly most unfair Massachusetts tax law on the books."
I think Vineyard Haven sells itself short when it buys into a policy with an attitude. The Tisbury budget needs and payments are the challenge. Fair sharing by all of its citizens is doing the right thing. We should be encouraging pride in Vineyard Haven.