Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Some M.V. scenes we'd like to see (apologies to Mad Magazine). Since it's February anyway, these relate to getting around today.
An end to the ubiquitous Stoplight Squabble regarding Barnes at Edgartown Roads. Some Monday night, when no one's around, put up the doggone light. Just make sure it actually has "smart" abilities so it can sense where the traffic volume is and cycle accordingly. Yes, Ye Olde Populace might freak for a week or so, but it's the cost-effective, sensible-to-all-drivers, local and visiting, solution. No nasty roundabout near-miss scenes with extended digits and vocal chords are needed come August. And we don't need the absurd time-and-gas-gobbling stop sign back-ups (as now) on many a late afternoon. And if that works, there's always State Road at Edgartown Road.
Less SUVs and supersized pickups glutting the post office parking lots (and everywhere else). Jeez, you'd think gas was free here or something.
People rediscovering their bikes, their feet, and yes, the VTA bus. Small errands and short hops don't require deploying the big land yacht each and every outing for one person and a lot of empty capacity chuggin' down the petrol to get half a mile in town. We have great sidewalks and lots of bike paths, but not many locals taking advantage (sorry, up-Island, you're exempted except for the VTA part). The VTA bus has an annual all-you-can-ride pass for $100. That's equal to a whopping two fill-ups or so at M.V. gas prices...a bona fide bargain even if you don't take the bus all that often. (Yes, the author has one). And those SOS stickers (rather ironic when affixed to 9-11 mpg vehicles). Put an image of a wind turbine inside the middle oval. A tad closer to the truth.
More smart-growth planning. Those apartments above the places of business make a lot of sense. When people live near where they work, seasonal and year-round alike, it's a gain for keeping open space and a net traffic reducer on the roads. If you've been to Europe and seen the snug, self-contained villages with the two and three story mixed-use buildings, unspoiled farms and forest right at the outskirts, you get the image. It adds nicely to the livability of a town.
Oh well, it was fun to imagine, anyway.
To the Editor:
The four-way stop at the infamous Blinker intersection has raised its head again. Give us patience.
It is the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven and Barnes Roads. This intersection suffers from too many cars traveling south in the morning and north in the late afternoon, congruent with people moving back and forth from work, during the so-called rush hours, but only in July and August, and mostly in that direction only, i.e. north and south. Other directions are not impacted significantly. That this is a single direction phenomenon has not been the subject of much publicity. Make no mistake, there are slow-ups. We do have to wait while traffic clears in those directions at those specific hours of the day. However the phrase traffic jam just doesn't apply here. I'm pretty sure rush hour doesn't either. So, I ask the question, why spend the money on something that has already been fixed?
Several years ago it was suggested in letters to the editor that two additional stop signs placed north-south would solve the problem. Instead of trying that, for the cost of two signs the town fathers spent several thousand dollars for a study, only to hear we need a traffic light. Horror of horrors, a traffic light on Martha's Vineyard? We would no longer be quaint. But wait, the problem is serious, we must do something about it immediately, and there is no money for construction. Why not erect four stop signs? Why didn't we think of that? Imagine the surprise when civility rules and this method works. County and Barnes Road and Katama and South Water Streets are two additional examples, both of which were preceded with cries of it won't work. We don't wax nostalgic that we no longer need to enter that intersection with fear and trembling and won't be using our personal vehicles as dodge'em cars. Now we stop, look both ways, and in a civilized manner cross the intersection. What a concept.
But the fly in the ointment is southbound traffic from Vineyard Haven in the morning, sometimes at noon and northbound during the late afternoon actually has to slow down. This road is no longer a speedway. Sometimes you must wait a few minutes. What price to pay for living here? Remember the bumper sticker, "You aren't off-Island anymore"? Works for me, let's allow our money to be used for other things we don't really need, such as a bridge over the Lagoon so we can build the bridge we really need. Talk about doing things the hard way.
To the Editor:
"Beach apartheid." I think that's an accurate description, and I love the idea of a walk/bike access to all up-Island beaches. Using any law to justify segregation (be it racist or classist) is a misuse of any legal system. Resting on 200-year-old legal laurels, whose intent had nothing to do with recreational beach access, to protect exclusive access by residents and their guests reeks of snobbism. When a New Yorker, who resides here by paying $10,000 for a week of guest privilege, gets to enjoy our lovely beaches, and a down-Island kid is told by a beach guard from Connecticut (who, as I understand it is there for safety) prevents his entry with legal justification, it makes me wonder if the residents of Chilmark have considered the ethical implications of classist segregation. Come to think of it, you don't see many minorities lying on the white sands of a Chilmark beach. My Caribbean dad came with us to Squibnocket beach last summer, and after a quick look around asked, "Are blacks allowed on this beach?" He was joking, sort of.
As for the planned extension of Squibnocket Beach hours, to cope with after-hours non-resident use, it is what it is: shameful. It has nothing to do with safety. We all know we swim at our own risk. It has nothing to do with parking. It has everything to do with certain grotesque realities I once associated with gated communities. I am told there is no real legal loophole, but I remember something about protected access for fishing and navigation. Well, I plan to navigate with my surfboard. I will walk right past the parking lot attendant, and I will wade into waters, with the simple intent of catching waves. I hope you will join me, navigating into that parking lot on your bike and with your feet. You live here. Go to the beach. Ultimately, it is the ethical thing for them to allow you entry.
Through the long cold winter, you work too hard for these residents to be banned from a beautiful place, simply because you can't afford to live there. How's about this for another idea: Sell beach passes to year-round residents. The town gets income, the people get to enjoy the beach. Imagine that - inclusion.
Carol Anne Lindsey
Let angels come
To the Editor:
In response to the article, "Islander Approaches End of Vineyard Service" in last week's MV Times. Stan Rogers's "The Last Watch" said it best:
"They dragged her down, dead, from Tobermory,
Too cheap to spare her one last head of steam,
Deep in diesel fumes embraced,
Dust and soot upon the face of one who was so clean.
They brought me here to watch her in the boneyard,
Just two old wrecks to spend the night alone.
It's dark inside this evil place.
Clouds on the moon hide her disgrace;
This whiskey hides my own.
It's the last watch on the Midland,
The last watch alone,
One last night to love her,
The last night she's whole.
My guess is that we were young together.
Like hers, my strength was young and hard as steel.
And like her too, I knew my ground;
I scarcely felt the years go round
In answer to the wheel.
But then they quenched the fire beneath the boiler,
Gave me a watch and showed me out the door.
At sixty-four, you're still the best;
One year more, and then you're less
Than dust upon the floor.
So here's to useless superannuation
And us old relics of the days of steam.
In the morning, Lord, I would prefer
When men with torches come for her,
Let angels come for me."
So long MV Islander, you treated us better than they treated you.
Rob Douglas Jr.
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard Hospital provided me an opportunity to appreciate their quality health care last week. I was pleased, healed, and impressed. Our community can be confident and proud of the excellent, personalized attention that they work hard to provide. My illness was sudden, and I am grateful for their expertise in saving me from something worse.
I encourage positive support of the hospital as it goes forward in growing, upgrading, and improving. Thank you to Dr. Laursen, Dr. Pil, Pam, Muriel, my students and faculty of MVRHS, Peggy, Bill, Steve, Rick, Diane, Melanie, Cindy, Nina, my cousin Chris, Patsy, Gail, Cathy, Cheryl, the wonderful dog that I got to walk down the hall, and for the delicious vanilla frappes.
I hope that I won't need to spend time again soon at MVH, but I'm confident that if I did, that I'd get great service and quality care. I'm glad that they are always there for us.
To the Editor:
By sheer coincidence, I came across your Jan. 12, 2006 issue online and noticed the item, in News in Brief, entitled "Uplifted House on the Move."
On the chance that there might be more publicity about this when the project is completed, I thought I would offer these corrections:
George Schiffer was my brother. Kathryn "Cassie" Roessel was his godchild and closest friend, but not related to him. George left his property at 150 State Road jointly to Cassie and me. When she died in 2004, I became the sole heir and, as you reported correctly, I subsequently sold it to the Island Housing Trust.
The confusion no doubt arose from the fact that Cassie was in the habit of affectionately referring to my brother as "Uncle George." However, she was not his niece, and, fond as I was of her, I am not her aunt.
March for impeachment
To the Editor:
Reading the paper and watching the daily news can be deadly when it comes to feeling light-hearted and disengaged. Just a couple of days ago yet another friend confessed she'd had enough. "The war is too depressing, the news is dreadful, and I can't stand to hear his voice one more time," she said, referring to our president. "That's it. Enough. I'm tuning out," she added with great conviction.
And so it is with so many Americans. We all care, God knows, about fair play, justice, and the old American ways, but are we willing to act? Care and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. Complacency has given us what we deserve. If we are not willing to move off the couch we can't expect our elected leaders to toe the line, or for that matter get new leadership which could reverse the tide of corruption, lying, and the total disregard for our form of government, as stated in the Constitution of the United States.
Think about this since it doesn't affect the vast majority of us: how would you like to have a daughter, son, husband, wife, father, or mother killed or maimed because of this senseless, trumped up, and lied-to war. How would you like to be an Iraqi who has had their sovereign country invaded, occupied, and destroyed for basically doing nothing but minding their own business? How would you like to be an Iraqi and have your ancient culture destroyed by looters, while winked at by the U.S. government? How would you like to be an Iraqi and have your history lost when your priceless books are destroyed by fire. How would you like to be the parents of young Iraqis, or our own soldiers, who for generations to come will suffer terrible illnesses and birth deformities because of our use of depleted uranium to coat our ammunition which is being shot all over Iraq, and has a shelf life of millions of years. How would you like to not feel safe, remember 911. The people of Iraq and our soldiers feel that way daily. How would you like to have your family and friends blown up just because you tried to live your life in a normal way by going to school, work, church, a mosque, or the market.
Picture what it would be like to go into Cronig's to buy some coffee, and while you're mulling over what brand to buy a bomb goes off and kills half the shoppers in the store. Or how about getting your car finally parked on the ferry, and you are just settled into the newspaper and a cup of coffee upstairs when a suicide bomber blows up the ship. As bad as all of that is, picture the fact that Iraq is in a relentless daily state of horrific chaos that doesn't go away. They and our soldiers are dealing with this terrifying situation constantly.
I was out of the country during 911 and watched with horror on CNN in Nicaragua what was happening to our country. I will never forget what a very wise Guatemalan doctor said to me at the time. "Welcome to the real world. You in the States have never known what it is like to feel unsafe. The rest of the world lives with this constantly."
It is true many of us have lived safe, privileged lives. And now, since we have had a brief encounter with the fear and uncertainty of our safety and that of our families, it is doubly important to pay attention to where that takes us. Are we going to hide out and let someone else handle our problems, or are we going to finally rise up and take a stand. The big question that always gets asked as we lead up to another election is this: has George Bush made us safer? No, is the answer. And we are all to blame for allowing our country to get into the mess that it is in. But it may not be too late.
I was heartened by the many thumbs up and that-a-boys that the three of us got demonstrating against the war recently at Five Corners. And only one guy gave us the finger. Is that progress or what? The Vineyard is a tiny place, and in the whole scheme of things what happens at Five Corners has no consequence to anyone, except perhaps to make those out there feel better. But what does matter is when the vast sea of grandfathers and grandmothers from the 1960s once again hit the big streets and bombard Congress with letters, e-mails, and phone calls to demand our country back. Remember the huge demonstrations against Vietnam? We need to wake up, get up, and lead, not follow. We need to let our voices be heard for the safety of our children and grandchildren.
With that said, I invite you to an Impeachment march in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 17. ImpeachBush@VoteToImpeach.org
It is finally time to say, that is enough.
To the Editor:
What a pleasant surprise I experienced on Saturday. My usual trip to the Oak Bluffs Post Office was changed due to hours and my job. So my detour to Vineyard Haven was most pleasant.
Not only was I greeted by two friendly clerks, but getting back to my vehicle was a pleasant combination of plenty of happy birds singing their songs of "winter's almost over" and "spring is just around the corner." And, sunshine was so plentiful. Happy.
P.S. Looking forward to the snowdrops and crocuses. There's something special about that post office in Vineyard Haven, not to offend any other Island post offices. You're all good, especially my elves in Oak Bluffs.
Could you just
move that camera?
To the Editor:
I have a request regarding the Web-Cam. I love the fact that you have this wonderful feature on your website. As a native of the Island and currently living off-Island, I enjoy my lunch hour looking out my window (the live cam) to the Vineyard. During the summer the camera was aimed more at the dock, but it now faces straight out onto the harbor. I caught a glimpse of the new "Island Home" coming into Vineyard Haven today, but I would have loved to see it docked. Is it possible to have the camera turned more to the dock? Thank you again for this feature.
Dr. John Pearce
To the Editor:
I would like to comment on Dr. John Pearce. It has been some months now since Dr. Pearce died, and there has been no public mention of him, to my knowledge. I had thought that Martha's Vineyard Community Services would have said something about an employee who had worked there for so many years. I worked closely with Dr. Pearce for close to 10 years, to my recollection, and was impressed with his skill, his attitude toward his patients, his willingness to work hard and be available to staff and patients in emergency situations, at all hours. This was no one-time thing. He did this consistently for all the years that I knew him.
Beside his performance at ICC, John was a funny, entertaining colleague, who was educated way beyond the limits of his professional expertise, as a psychiatrist. He wrote a seminal book in evolutionary psychiatry and many articles in prestigious medical journals. He was very well read in many other fields.
I was quite fond of John Pearce and appreciated him and his contribution to the people of Martha's Vineyard, which was his home away from home. I do realize that some people found John difficult and eccentric, as he could be, but his contribution to his patients was major, and he deserves some recognition for the good work he did.
Legislators urge towns to negotiate over school formula change
To the Editor:
We've sent the following to all Island selectmen and the chairman of all Vineyard town finance committees:
The issue of how the Island towns are going to allocate the Chapter 70 state education aid funds received by the two regional school districts has been a matter of great concern to us and to you since last fall, when the option of altering or abandoning the longstanding regional agreements and possibly adopting the state "wealth based" formula first came to the fore.
The meeting with Department of Education Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, arranged by Rep. Turkington in October, began the dialogue, since followed by a Boston meeting with Senator O'Leary and the Tisbury leadership, and more recently with an All-Island Selectmen's meeting.
We have all been on a learning curve on this issue, and a number of consensus points have emerged:
1. The personal income date used in the state formula is clearly inaccurate. Selectmen Denys Wortman and Tristan Israel of Tisbury have made a compelling case that because of individuals using post offices other than those in their town of residence, data derived from state income tax returns and used in computing the state formula is not correct.
2. While agreeing on this point and committing to addressing it, the Department of Education maintains that no matter what the personal income factor may be it would not change the state formula, which requires that no less than 17.5 percent of the District's foundation budget be paid by the state.
3. It is only the foundation budget (a minimum amount of school support mandated by the state) that is at issue here. District spending above the state minimum requirement (which on the Vineyard is considerable), transportation costs, debt service, and the like are not affected by the state formula and are governed by the existing intra-town agreements.
4. Any one town in either District can opt to abandon the longstanding regional agreement and move to the state formula. Doing so would involve a short-term financial gain to some towns and losses to others. Since FY08 is already half over any change would not go into effect until FY09. The Department of Education projections for that year show a savings of $117,043 for Oak Bluffs, and a concomitant loss to Tisbury of $121,463. Other towns would gain or lose lesser amounts. In succeeding years each town's gains and losses would decline rapidly into insignificance.
It is our understanding that most of the regional school districts across the state have encountered this issue over the years and have engaged it in the same manner the Vineyard is doing now, by having a dialogue among the stakeholders, usually the town Selectmen and finance committees, and have come to a consensus.
Two who have recently gone through this process are the Pentucket Regional School District in Essex County and the Tantasqua Regional School District in Stockbridge. Closer to home, the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District faced the issue and, with some technical consultants, resolved it. We suggest a contact with those who were involved there might be helpful.
We have been appreciatively following the Vineyard conversations on this matter and are heartened by the consensus that seems to be emerging, that the matter can be addressed in a way that involves all the towns working cooperatively and helping each other out in contemplating any transition from the existing funding formula.
We stand ready to help in any way we can to assist you, and congratulate you on the efforts you have already made to educate your communities on this very complex issue and to guide them to a mutually beneficial conclusion.
Eric T. Turkington