Letters to the Editor
The market set the price: a reply to West Tisbury's
To the Editor:
We write in response to the Nov. 9, 2006, letter from the West Tisbury assessors.
We have two pending Appellate Tax Board matters affecting the assessments on our former property in West Tisbury, for the tax years 2005 and 2006. Since we are mentioned in the letter, we wish to make the record complete, as we believe the assessors leave an incorrect impression regarding our cases.
The assessors state that we declined their offer to settle, which is a true statement. What they fail to indicate is the reason their offers were rejected by us. They are well aware of the reasons which were clearly stated in our letter declining their offers of settlement.
Our two parcels of property were assessed for a total amount in excess of $10 million for each of the years at issue. Since our property had been on the market for over two years, and we had had no offers anywhere near the assessed valuation, we protested our assessments and asked for a reduction to $7.5 million, which was our estimate of the property's fair cash value.
As circumstances worked out, that is precisely the amount that we sold the property for in June of this year. Thus our position in discussions with the assessors was that the correct assessment for the years in question was exactly what the market subsequently determined the fair cash value to be, to wit: $7.5 million dollars. The assessors refused to recognize the fair cash value set by the market (which is what the law requires the assessment to be) and offered to settle for $8.7 and later $8.5 million for each year.
Since we are in the unusual position of having clear proof of what the fair cash value of the property is, by virtue of having actually sold it rather than relying on "comparables," we declined to accept the assessors' offer but indicated then, as we do now, that we are prepared to settle the matter for the sale price.
We also note that if the assessors were in fact to settle for the sale price, which we expect the Appellate Tax Board will rule is the correct assessment, the citizens of West Tisbury would save the not insignificant costs of more litigation. Thus the statement regarding their responsibility to the West Tisbury taxpayers is disingenuous at best and perhaps another instance of an attempt to leave an impression other than what the complete picture actually is.
While one can never know, it has occurred to us that the reason the assessors decline to recognize the market sale of our property as the correct assessment is that they are concerned that it will have an adverse effect on their assessments of all the other properties in the North Shore neighborhood they established in 2003. If this is true, I must wonder how they can believe that they are treating this taxpayer fairly.
Timothy and Ellen Guiney
Boston and Chilmark
How they stacked up
To the Editor:
Vineyard parents and citizens should know what a wonderful community Martha's Vineyard is to be a part of. On Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, the folks at The Guinness Book of World Records threw down the gauntlet to the World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA). How many people could Sport Stack around the world on the same day?
Sport stacking is an exciting individual and team sport where participants stack and unstack 12 specially designed plastic cups (Speed Stacks) in pre-determined sequences. Individually, stackers race against the clock for fastest or best times. Stackers also compete on a relay team racing against another team in head-to-head competition. With practice, a person can stack at lightning speed that has to be seen to be believed!
As the Martha's Vineyard ambassador for the WSSA, I approached the physical education department at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) and was blown away at the support and enthusiasm of the teachers. They not only agreed to get together six or 12 students to participate but also guaranteed the participation of at least 60 students. The Edgartown Fireman's Association agreed to purchase and supply on loan all the sport stacking cups (Speed Stacks), timers, etc. and MVRHS was the third in the state to register.
On Nov. 6, I was even more impressed when the first set of students arrived and immediately started stacking! That evening there were two family groups Sport Stacking in Edgartown, the O'Shaughnessy Clan and the Cassidy Clan. The Cassidy Clan consisted of at least 15 family members from Mike Cassidy's neighborhood. Wait, what is sport stacking, and why do they do it
So, how did we do? Well, the Official World Record is 81,252. The total for the Vineyard was 105 and the fastest time on the Island is held by Dan Guard who completed a 3-6-3 stack in 4.09 seconds. This is amazing considering it was his first stacking event and the world record time is 2.72 seconds. This event was huge and only received a small amount of coverage, so I would like to thank Plum TV, the Gazette and the MV Times for what they were able to do. Also huge thank-yous to Nancy Shemeth, the fabulous Donald Herman, The Edgartown Fireman's Association, Carl at MVTV, and all the incredible stackers!
I hope that this letter has helped to inform the parents wondering what all the young people are talking about, and I hope to see Martha's Vineyard represented at the WSSA World Sport Stacking Championships in Denver next April.
Less is more
To the Editor:
The morning coffee is hot, my first steaming mug on my desk next to me. After some morning reflections, my silver Mac G4 Powerbook powers up, to log on to the world for another day, to take me to places like Iraq, Milan, La Rochelle, New Rochelle, North Korea, Afghanistan, Boston, San Francisco. I can even check the Want Ads in Topeka, Kansas, if I wanted. I think I'll drop in on the goings on with Paris. That's Paris, France, not Paris Hilton. It's the end of the week and time to keep tabs on Martha's Vineyard, albeit, in a New York State of mind but with a heart that lies at least partially, right smack in the middle of West Tisbury.
I have been coming to the Vineyard since 1969, a full 58 years after the birth of Sarah Jenkinson of Chilmark. At some point, I found myself living here for a span of 20 years, knowing deep within from the moment I stepped off my first ferry boat ride, that it was a place for me. The landscape was quite different then, disembarking from Das Boot, but not nearly what it must have been like, circa 1911. I, and my assembled cast of mop-headed best friends from Westchester County, all chomping at the bit for sun, sea, surf, and a ritualistic linguica sandwich at the Port Side on Beach Road, pointed our yellow Mustang convertible to the summer home of three brothers who were friends of mine, and even good friends with Captain Lodge, who now sits at the helm of many of the same boat runs from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven.
Music filled the air, back in the day, not just the air, but our hearts and minds, and our culture. Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Phil Ochs and James - that's Brown, not Taylor. James, though sweet, was still very much a "baby" back then. Barefooted and backpacked, was de rigeur. There were no Ultimate Fighting Championships pitting campgrounds versus golf courses. Hellman, meant Lillian, not mayonnaise, and speaking of mayonnaise, there were even African American homeowners back then, romping on Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs.
Brooks [sic] was a senator, not a running shoe or a chain of pharmacies. Leslie's Drug Store was just fine, thank you very much. Eisenstadt was alive and well in Menemsha, still producing marvelous photographs for Life Magazine, but it was really the cover stories announcing "Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll" or "Come to San Francisco, but be sure to wear some flowers in your hair," in a large, glossy format, that caught many an eye back then, including mine.
Catholics attended mass, in general, and Mass General, that mega hospital/teaching institution, was not about to usurp control of the Island hospital that began as a grey shingled house in East Chop, and was about to metamorph into God knows what. That reminds me, I need to make an appointment for an MRI, just to see if I should be diagnosed with claustrophobia.
The phrase, "less is more", leaps to my mind, and I wonder why. I read the online versions of the local Vineyard papers, but these days, I am left with a feeling of, "less is...well...just less" - through no fault of the periodicals. A "fast ferry", back in the day, meant that you caught the tide and currents just right, and you pulled into Vineyard Haven five to seven minutes early from the trip over from Woods Hole. Nowadays, it's a modern day regatta of high-powered catamarans zipping in from New Bedford, or even better, New London, that allows one to feed the coffers of Lady Luck, aka Pochahontas, though not Wampanoag, still an indigenous Native American, holding court in a casino teepee in northeast Connecticut. Hell, back then, Roy Hayes was just starting out building houses, and not shuttling people back and forth from Chappy to Edgartown.
The first thing I check, when I log onto M.V. Times and Vineyard Gazette online editions these days, is the obituaries. Call me maudlin, call me "Harold," from "Harold and Maude," call me dark and brooding, call me strange, if you will. It's just what I do, if only to stem the flow of, "I wonder whatever happened to so and so..." that can appear in my mind at any given time and place. Today, there is the announcement of the passing of Sarah Jenkinson, "born in Oak Bluffs in 1911," someone who cultivated deep up-Island roots that grew through the years. And I am thinking, not of Sarah's passing, but of her birth and subsequent life, imagining, only imagining, the things she witnessed and became privy to, in her rich, full, long life on the Island. Holy Mackerel. Born in 1911, on the island of Martha's Vineyard and living a full 95 years here. Man, that is saying something!
All my glorious days spent, ignoring the "No Trespassing" signs of homeowners, and eluding the local gendarmes, just to romp naked in the sand and waters of The Atlantic Ocean on Jungle Beach, with a backdrop of colored cliffs that actually had color striations back in those days. Literally, and figuratively, the cliffs pale in comparison to what constituted Vineyard life in 1911!
There is nothing quite like beauty, as defined by Martha's Vineyard. The late, late afternoon sun, settling in the sky, casting a marvelous color over everything, the mist that settles on lagoons and ponds in early mornings, that perfect, near cloudless bright blue sky ceiling on a summer's day, the bows of the trees weighted down by the occasional blanket of pure white snow in winter. And the people. Maybe not all of the people, but just enough of the wonderful people, whether it is August or February. Many have come and gone, some gone forever, some gone only to return again, and some gone, but never forgotten. Maybe it's the ethereal "welcome mat" that Martha's Vineyard offers. These days, the fabric of that open-ended welcome mat seems to be paved more in gold than woven with ornate threads of multi-colored and multi-cultural splendor and celebration. More often than not, those appearing at the door seem to have visions of trophy houses, with trophy wives, and fewer and fewer blue ribbon trophies for the best grown tomato at the Ag Fair.
Ahhhh, the Ag Fair. It used to sit virtually right across from the Jenkinsons' gas station in West Tisbury. Them was the days. I have the feeling that my next visit to The Ag Fair and its exhibit hall, may well find me viewing an entry for a genetically altered Purple Peruvian Potato crossed with a Japanese eggplant, winning the Gold Ribbon for best "indigenous" home-grown vegetable.
The current location and well-constructed Exhibit Hall is lovely, but unless you experienced the quaintness, the joy, of The Old Ag Fair, you may have missed out on something special. And right across from that gas station, whose current owners are descendant directly from that same Jenkinson woman, born in Oak Bluffs in 1911.
Sarah Jenkinson, born and raised on Martha's Vineyard for all this time. Bless you, and your surviving family. Sarah has made a small adjustment, moving just a little bit up the road, to Abel's Hill now, carrying a rich life into rich soil. You probably never even considered, in all your time here, that "potluck" really meant nothing more than "bring your own favorite dish to supper" and not "pot luck," as in some $500-a-pound of designer weed.
Less is more, more or less.
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
To the Editor:
Perhaps things on the Vineyard have inevitably changed, or perhaps I have been lucky enough to avoid until now the situation I just lived through. I had an intruder come into my home last night while I was out, and I wanted to stress to all of you the importance of locking your doors.
I have been one of those silly, trusting people who thought, "Ah, it's the Vineyard, nothing will happen," much to my mother's chagrin, I should add. When she comes to visit and locks the door, I find it annoying and paranoid. Not anymore.
I was out late and came home as usual. My front light was on, the lights in the living room and bedroom were on, the second car was in the driveway. I opened the door, and my dog came bounding down the stairs - how cute, I thought, that he was sleeping on my bed. I went into the kitchen to get my usual glass of water after picking up stuff that needed to go upstairs with me, and I noticed a single large, ugly sneaker sitting in the middle of the floor outside of the second bedroom downstairs. I was a little puzzled, and I walked into the room to find the other sneaker, a coat and a baseball hat on the floor.
It didn't quite connect at that point, and I wondered whether the stuff had been there when I went out, though I knew it didn't belong to me. Then it hit me that maybe someone was in my house. I then, unthinkingly, crept up the stairs with my stuff in my hands, paused at the top of the staircase and peeked around the corner into my room, where I saw a pair of feet hanging off the side of my bed.
I grabbed my dog and threw him in the car, peeled out of the driveway headed for the Edgartown police station, attempting to dial the sheriff's emergency number as I drove, my hand shaking so violently that I couldn't dial. I got through, reported that someone was asleep in my bed (no, it wasn't Goldilocks, though it sounded oddly familiar when I said that) and begged the police to come as soon as possible. I turned around heading back home and because the police weren't there yet, I made another panicked call to the emergency line, and she told me to stay on the street in my car and that they were on their way.
Two cars arrived. I pulled back into the driveway and entered the house with them. I can't thank Officers Will Oteri and Joel DeRoche enough for showing up and handling things so calmly and expediently. I showed them the shoes, etc. and they told me I might want to stay outside. I was standing across the yard with my hands over my mouth shaking as I saw them draw their guns and creep up the stairs with them drawn, just like in a bad movie.
I had a terrifying feeling for a minute that something horrible would happen. A minute or so later one of the officers came down and asked me if I wanted to see the guy as they took him out, and I said of course. Turns out he was some 27-year-old who lives a few blocks away who had wandered into my house completely "gassed," as the officer put it, and then passed out on my bed. Nothing in the house was touched.
I'm still shaking writing about it, but I'm so thankful that I was not home at the time that he walked in or I think I might have died of a heart attack. I guess I now know that Chauncey is not sufficient protection for keeping strangers out of the house, and that the only thing to do is lock the doors.
This experience has changed my habits forever. I will never again leave my car unlocked in the driveway, nor will I ever go to sleep again with the doors or windows unlocked. I will have a hard time taking my personal security for granted, and may have to send Chauncey back to canine college for assertiveness training. The stupidest thing I did: going upstairs to see if someone was there. If you ever have an intruder, or think there is one, get out of the house immediately and call the police. Just for your information, the emergency number of the Vineyard is 508-693-1212 on your cell. So, please lock your doors.
Why doesn't the gas price come down?
To the Editor:
Gasoline (regular) has been around $2.20 or less per gallon from the Cape to Boston in recent weeks. We expect to pay 50 cents more per gallon on the Vineyard, but one wonders why the price at stations (in three towns checked) here has not gone below $2.93 as yet.
Card of Thanks
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard is a tiny dot on the map, but except for a very few, the rest of the world will never know that its heart would engulf the planet. We are one of the fortunate families who got to experience this firsthand.
For the outpouring of love and support, for all the help in making Fred's service so beautiful and special, we thank you.
He is in his final resting place, surrounded by a community of people who, as in his life, gave so much to him, now in death gives peace.
Kathy, Kim, Abby and families
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Community Services Fall Training Conference, held on Oct. 27 and 28, 2006, at the West Tisbury Agricultural Hall provided a wonderful opportunity for health and human service providers to learn together. Sharing information through the integration of services available on the Island helps us all enhance our effectiveness and improve the lives of the children and families we serve. Thank you MVCS, from several of your public school colleagues, for having the insight to organize this very useful and meaningful event.
Susan Heckler Smith
Here to help
To the Editor:
The Salvation Army has re-established its service unit on Martha's Vineyard. For the first time in a long time, the Salvation Army has an active service unit on the Island. More and more of our population confront living costs that exceed their incomes. Too many of our families face a lack of affordable land or housing, and The Salvation Army is here to help. Service units are established in areas where the Army has no officer/pastor assigned. Our mission is to make The Salvation Army services and spiritual ministry available to Vineyard residents. The program is flexible, endeavors not to duplicate the services of other agencies, and is designed to meet genuine needs quickly, without time-consuming "red tape."
The Martha's Vineyard Service Unit is supported financially by contributions from local residents. Donations raised here will be used to help Vineyard residents in need. Under the guidance of divisional headquarters in Boston, members of the service unit are responsible for wisely using the funds entrusted to them to meet community needs. A fundamental aspect of The Salvation Army's faith is service to those in need, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, or age. We believe all people deserve to have their basic human needs met.
A wide variety of assistance is offered to individuals and families in need and is available on an as-needed basis in areas such as: utility assistance through the Good Neighbor Energy Fund; clothing assistance; Food/grocery store vouchers; rental/mortgage assistance as funding is available; counseling; referrals and case management. The Salvation Army Disaster Services are available in the event of a major fire, hurricane, winter storm, or other emergency. We are there to serve rescue and response crews with refreshments and meals, as well as to assist victims and their families.
Soon you will see the familiar Red Kettles around the Island. We hope you donate generously knowing that those donations will be used locally to aid your fellow Islanders in need. This is the season of giving, but please remember, need knows no season.
Your gifts will help local people any time they are in need of a helping hand. For information, or to volunteer, please contact me at 508-693-4271.
Capt. Richard S. Reinhardsen
The Salvation Army Martha's Vineyard Service Unit
To the Editor:
As a small non-profit organization, Garden Gate Child Development Center faces a common funding dilemma. As we seek to pay rent and utilities, buy soap and toilet paper, pay insurance and taxes, pay for educational materials, art programming and field trips, and pay a highly qualified staff, we struggle constantly with the issues of affordability for parents and worthy wages for staff. With parents paying less than $6 per hour for tuition, our staff has actually subsidized the full cost of care by accepting rates of pay far below those of public school teachers.
How can we continue to support the costs of quality educational programming without expecting teachers to subsidize tuition, without exorbitant tuition increases? We must look to a third source of program funding: grants, gifts and donations. Our community benefits from preschool programming that gives children a solid foundation for learning and prepares them for the challenges of being socially competent, respectful and accountable human beings. We are fortunate to live in a community where generosity of spirit and of resources is common, and where there is tremendous value placed on the education, growth and success of its members.
Recently, donations of work, supplies and labor allowed us to undertake a renovation yielding a meeting space, a bathroom, a welcoming and spacious coatroom/entryway, and two additional slots for children from our waiting list. Very special thanks to Wayne Guyther and Ace/Hinckley Hardware, Gary BenDavid and BenDavid Builders, Will Warner, Rick Kane, Peter Jeffers and Jeffers Electric, Howard Sashin and Sashin Drywall, Mark Clarke and MV Hardwood Floors, Andy Marek and Marek Tree and Landscape, Brian Athearn, Patrick Burt, Mike Sylvia, Ron Jackson, Delia and Chris Gibson and Ken Barwick and the Tisbury Building Department crew, and the Bay State Savings Bank Charitable Foundation for their time, effort, and tireless devotion to the work we do with children.
There are so many non-profit organizations that struggle with the dilemma of meeting the financial, emotional and material needs of all of their constituents, but there are also so many ways to help. One way to become involved is though the Martha's Vineyard Donor Collaborative. The MVDC works to "expand the universe of donors contributing to Martha's Vineyard non-profit organizations, by involving the broadest group possible in Island giving." The Donors Collaborative epitomizes the strength of community support and the power of collaboration to achieve success. Throughout this season of giving, there are many ways to contribute and be involved. The benefits are more than financial. These connections broaden our reach into the larger community and offer reciprocal benefits to everyone who participates in this meaningful process. Many thanks to those who have shown us generosity and kindness throughout the year.
Dawn Warner and Leigh Ann Yuen
Garden Gate ChildDevelopment Center, Inc.
Another site for the
To the Editor:
This is a copy of an e-mail to the Linns' neighbors.
Earlier this evening, I spoke with Pat King and received his impressions on what was presented by various people at the two Martha's Vineyard Commission public hearings held this past week. I trust that those of us from the Windemere Road neighborhood express our collective gratitude to Chip Graham and David Gross and Pat King for their participation.
In the event that you haven't yet seen it, I have attached a downloaded copy of the article that appeared in the Nov.10 edition of The Vineyard Gazette. Apparently, Mr. Gross made an impassioned and factual case concerning the proposed new employee parking area on Eastville Avenue. As a result, on Monday and Tuesday mornings the members of the commission planned to tour the site.
As a great portion of the meeting was devoted to the issue of the parking lot, Mr. King indicated to me that he intended to be present at that viewing and would encourage the commission members to also walk back the several hundred foot distance to our Windemere Road neighborhood. He planned to point out precisely what our concerns are about the impact arising from the south facing elevation, the dual use road, loss of rental revenue (with no reduction in real estate taxes) to property owners during the two and one half year construction, etc.
It should be made clear that the issues of our neighborhood also demand the attention of the Commission, as does the proposed parking lot.
There now appear to be some other serious issues. There is evidence that the magnitude of the structural steel specifications for the new building far exceed those required to provide adequate foundations for a two-story building. This will enable the hospital, or more than likely, their partners, Massachusetts General, in some later expansion program, to add perhaps three more floors to the new structure. Obviously, this would dwarf the present proposed structure.
Mr. King suggested at the hearing that, as part of the hospital's application process, it might be a good idea for a large crane to be rented on top of which a camera would be mounted to take some south-facing photographs from the levels of both a two-story and then a five-story building. This would enable all to see what it will be like to peer down on the homes of those of us living on Windemere Road.
We think that the present site could be significantly downsized, and thereby remain where it is currently sited, if: 1 - the doctors' facilities now located within the hospital were obliged to find other, market value, office rental space in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs or elsewhere, thereby enhancing the tax rolls for those towns; 2 - the new physical rehabilitation facilities now planned to be included within the new structure might be consolidated into the newly built YMCA building; 3 - a comprehensive analysis of enhanced tax flows into the various towns resulting from revenues that currently do not get into the tax collector's coffers.
Since a decision by the MVC will be taken as soon as Thursday, the final session of this process, we urge everyone receiving this e-mail to emphatically share their comments directly with the MVC in writing at the earliest possible moment to express strongly any comments you have in support of our opposition to the Hospital's reconstruction proposal.
With this e-mail, we are reminding Mr. Foley of the commission of the written submission we made to him after the August meeting in the Vineyard Haven Senior Center. In it, we pointed out that the economic value of the current 13-acre site should be considered as part of the overall siting decision. We express the views of our group of neighbors in believing that between $16 and $25 million could be generated from liquidation of the present site. Those funds, when added to the $42 million already raised would make the relocation elsewhere, to use Mr. Walsh's word, "feasible." We hope Mr. Foley will prepare copies of this communication for distribution to the entire MVC as part of their consideration of the application. With best wishes to all.
Judith and Victor Linn
To the Editor:
Like most people, I tend to believe that most people in responsible positions - particularly official ones - know what they are about. But alas, they don't seem to in many cases.
So I feel I must add contributions to the recent letter in both Island papers concerning the unprofessional behavior patrons encounter at the various local post offices. They would be funny if they weren't so dismaying.
Several weeks ago I discovered I had lost my credit card. I immediately set about canceling the old one and ordering a new one, which I was assured would arrive within 10 days. It didn't. After a few more days went by, I asked the company to please send another one. (They told me the first one had been sent out some days before). My second one didn't come either. It was suggested I check with the local postmaster. I did. He informed me that he would "look around," then came back to say he "didn't see it lying around anywhere." Shortly after that dialogue, the company called to tell me that both cards had been returned to them, despite their being correctly addressed. Another call to the postmaster. "Oh yes," he said. "Those were sent back because of the extra four numbers after the Zip code. The computer can't read them right." This despite the fact that I get business letters nearly every day with nine numbers instead of five as the Zip code, as I am sure most Islanders do. After close to a month I finally received my credit card.
The second instance didn't happen to me but in a way is even more appalling and is certainly funnier. A friend, after hearing my tale involving my credit card, told me what happened to her that very morning at yet another local post office that I shall leave nameless for obvious reasons. She went to the counter and asked the person staffing it (the postmistress) for the Zip code of Washington, D.C. "What state is it in?" the official representative of the Postal Service inquired. Somewhat taken aback, my friend replied, "Well it isn't really in any state. It's a District - you know, the District of Columbia."
"I know that, but what state is it in?"
Remember when you put a three-cent stamp on your letter, dropped it in the mailbox, and felt confident that "neither snow nor sleet" would stay it from arriving at its destination within a reasonable time?
Jean S. Wexler
Promote your passion
To the Editor:
When my friend Patricia Force decided to give her automobile a name, she chose "Isabel." I suggested that she name it "CARoline."
May I recommend to my fellow artists that when they respond to the prosaic "Hello," do as I do, proselytizing art, with a hearty "Yellow!"?