Letters to the Editor
Up-Island, down-Island trade:
beaches for parking
To the Editor:
I'm writing in to applaud Carol Anne Lindsey's letter concerning beach access in Chilmark. I do appreciate that both Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket parking lots have limited space for cars, but I do agree with her that the Chilmark selectmen's view that safety is a reason to raise the times at Squibnocket to after 7 pm to be completely disingenuous. We all know who uses Squibnocket after 5 pm. The surfers. I've heard more than a few summer Chilmark residents complain about it.
Well I have a quid pro quo solution. We all complain about access to the ferry during the summer; well, I think they should limit summer resident bookings on the ferry to before 8 am and after 8 pm. I mean really, I for one am sick and tired of Mercedes SUV's clogging Vineyard Haven all day long. Rainy days? Well, stay up-Island, Chilmarkers. In fact I'm really tired of these summer residents making use of all the facilities the down-Island towns provide, like the ferry, shopping, hospital, restaurants, airport (I know it's in West Tisbury, barely) and yet Chilmark limits access to the few public places that they control.
Maybe we should have resident parking passes for the down-Island towns. It's time that the bad neighbor policy that Chilmark practices be reflected in how Chilmark is treated by the rest of the Island. I think the walk/bike pass is a good start, but I think it should be offered at a modest cost, or free. I also agree with Carol Anne's reminder that the Massachusetts law about beach ownership is antiquated, but the fight to change that is probably a very long term and expensive one. Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket access is within the purview of elected officials.
All should be
To the Editor:
The letters about "beach apartheid" prompted memories of the year in the 1970s, in which I lived in West Tisbury. During that time, I regularly rode my bicycle to Lambert's Cove Beach in the summer. No one ever questioned my presence on the beach or asked if I had a permit. The Island beaches should be accessible to everyone, especially those who choose a non-polluting mode of transportation, like a bike.
Every summer, I spend one week in Oak Bluffs, where there are many delightful beaches, such as Jetty Beach and Eastville. However, when we wish to swim up-Island, we are limited to the Long Point, Menemsha and Moshup beaches. One cannot access Long Point after 11 am, due to overcrowding, the Menemsha parking lot is always crowded, and at Moshup Beach the parking fees are at least $15. Lobsterville Beach is also problematic, as Aquinnah has posted "no parking" signs along the road, limiting access to the beach unless one squeezes into a tiny parking lot at the end of the road.
Why should other up-Island beaches such as Squibnocket, Lambert's Cove, Philbin Beach, Lucy Vincent Beach and stretches of South Beach in Edgartown be reserved for wealthy land owners who reside on the Vineyard only in the summer? It would be far better to afford Islanders - and former Islanders - the opportunity to enjoy their beloved shorefronts.
To the Editor:
The letter writers who have recently complained about beach "apartheid" in Chilmark are correct. But the fact is, complaining and pleading have never won public access to an inch of exclusive shoreline, anywhere. Public access is negotiated from a position of strength.
The first step with regard to Lucy Vincent Beach, for example, would be to request a copy, and then closely examine the original, 99-year lease of the beach to the town of Chilmark. Next step: Obtain the leases granted by property owners to Chilmark for the road and parking area leading to the beach, and examine them word by word. Often, the written intentions of deeds, leases, rights-of-ways, etc., are purposely obscured over time by those who oppose public access. Step three: Request copies of any resolutions approved by the Chilmark selectmen or any other town board regarding Lucy Vincent Beach. (The state Public Records Law requires public officials to use their superior knowledge of the records to satisfy a broad request.) See how those resolutions square with the language in the leases.
Those steps are just a start. Discovery leads to more discovery as history is unveiled. The result is leverage to apply legal and political pressure on lawmakers. That is how public access usually is obtained.
At least one letter writer suggested that Chilmark grant public access to Lucy Vincent Beach to those on foot or on bicycles - if parking is the problem. Another idea might be to allow one day a week when anyone could use the beach. Limit non-Chilmarkers to two hours' parking. Expand the parking; there's plenty of room to do so. These things might be a start, although why should public access be limited at all? Do the down-Island towns limit access by restricting parking at Tashmoo in Tisbury, State Beach in Oak Bluffs, or Bend-in-the Road Beach in Edgartown?
Anyhow, none of those suggestions are going to be acceptable to those who have an interest in denying access to Lucy Vincent Beach. The question is not, "Why shouldn't they grant access?" In the real world, it's "Why should they?"
MVC beach review demanded
To the Editor:
Why does The Martha's Vineyard Commission have the right to review a restaurant in Oak Bluffs but not Chilmark's attempt to further deny the public access to the beach?
This is just the beginning. End beach apartheid.
this way, please
To the Editor:
For the past year or so, I've been following the building of your new Seattle-designed motor vessel Island Home. She looks very good in her new home. Looks like a Northwest ferry, to say the least (she has some similarities to ours here). Your webcam is great. Is it possible, please, for you to rotate the cam a bit to the left permanently so we can see the full profile of the ferries in the dock (or add a new cam for this purpose)? I will be enjoying seeing our bit of Seattle each day as she comes and goes from your neat harbor.
No taggers, please
To the Editor:
My name is Shannon O'Connor. I am nine years old and I am a student at the Oak Bluffs School.
My dad Sean O'Connor is the captain of the new boat, Island Home. My mom and I took a trip down to Mississippi while she was being built, and we really loved her. She is so incredibly beautiful.
While we were down there touring the new boat, all I could think about was how people would graffiti all over her. The restrooms are done with pretty wood paneling, and I am so afraid that people will carve things into the doors and walls.
So please. If you are reading this letter, think before you graffiti all over the beautiful new boat, and please talk to our friends and family about this. We should be proud to have such a beautiful boat to travel on, and we shouldn't destroy her.
The war from the battleground
To the Editor:
I had a few points I would like to make in reference to the letter that Marnie Stanton wrote. First of all, I have absolutely no problem with citizens of this country voicing they're opinion on the war in Iraq. It is one of many rights that makes this country beautiful. But there are a few things I wanted to point out.
First, Ms. Stanton mentioned Iraq's ancient culture being destroyed by looters. Iraqi looters. When elements of the 3rd Infantry division(MECH) secured Baghdad, before the insurgency, when the Iraqis were actually thankful for their liberation, they tore Baghdad to pieces, not the US Army. Ordering soldiers to intervene in that melee would have proved dangerous. We did provide security for high value structures such as power plants, banks, oil facilities, and museums.
Second, depleted uranium (DU) is a dense metal used in armor-piercing (AP) munitions. In Iraq, the three main weapon systems that utilize DU are the M1 series tank, M2/3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and AH-64 Apache helicopter. These rounds, called Sabots (pronounced "say-bo"), are used solely for anti-armor engagements and are quite expensive. In the Iraq theatre of operation, vehicle crews use high explosive (HE) rounds to engage the enemy, since they are more effective against enemy personnel, buildings, and vehicles. You only use AP against tanks and tank-like targets. The insurgents have neither, so it's safe to say that a very low quantity of DU rounds have been expended since the toppling of the regime and defeat of the Iraqi Army in 2003.
Third, soldiers are paid to deal with combat situations. period. Unfortunately, within the last year or two, certain members of the military have been more outspoken for their opinion of the war. It is their right, but they do not speak for every member of our armed forces. For every one soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman, there is a much larger number who are quite willing to do their duty honorably. The United States military is a professional, all-volunteer force. Nobody made any of our young men and women deploy.
Fourth, as I stated before, I have no problem with anyone raising they're voice against the war, but keep in mind that the enemy has CNN too and will twist images of protesters to promote their cause. Groups like Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army have done this with propaganda posters all over Iraq. Of course one would not know this if he or she had not been on the ground and felt the heat of the Iraqi sun, or seen the smile of an Iraqi child, or drunk tea with the local Imams over discussions of a free Iraq starting out one neighborhood at a time.
I will close with this: I see more protests and complaints about the president and how he has dealt with the war in Iraq every day. The American people are well aware about how we feel about it. An overall withdrawal will not happen overnight, no matter how much protesting is done. So, instead of trying to impeach the president, why not send a box with some socks, magazines, or cookies from home? The troops would appreciate it.
More equal - us
To the Editor:
What is it about Islanders that makes them feel so entitled? What is it about the people of Martha's Vineyard that makes them believe they deserve preferential treatment? Recent headlines concerning Ice House Pond, ferry discount eligibility on Chappy, as well as extending residents-only hours at Squibnocket illustrate my point, but the history of this on the Vineyard goes long and deep. Steamship Authority anyone? George Orwell once wrote, "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others." Unfortunately, that has become the Vineyard's motto.
The other side
To the Editor:
I was disappointed by your incomplete presentation on geothermal energy (Feb. 21 issue). While geothermal heating and cooling systems have some noteworthy positive features, readers also need to be told of their drawbacks.
I suggest that you present accurate information on the full spectrum of heating and cooling options - including wood and pellet stoves, sealed-combustion room heaters, condensing boilers, and passive solar components. Be sure to reference the excellent web sites: www.energystar.gov and www.nesea.org.
Return the courtesy
To the Editor:
I see once again both The Times and the Gazette have announced the results of their entries to the annual NEPA contest. The Times should rightfully be proud of the 15 awards they received this year.
But each year, one thing troubles me about these announcements. Disclosure: I was both a paid and unpaid correspondent for the Gazette during my high school years up to 1970. At the end of every story the Gazette publishes about their awards, whether more or less than the Times, more important or less, more first prizes or fewer, they always acknowledge the number of awards The Times has received. They did so this year, mentioning that the Times received 15 awards.
The Times never returns the courtesy and acknowledges the Gazette awards. I wonder why.
my boat trailer
To the Editor:
Somebody recently took my little boat trailer from the Lake Street dock on Lake Tashmoo. To whomever took my trailer: you may have thought that it belonged to no one because it did not have a license plate. This is because I use a removable bar with trailer lights and plate that mounts on my boat to prevent the electric wires from going in the water. The trailer is for my boat, which I use frequently year-round to commute back and forth to the mainland to visit and keep in close touch with my elderly mother. If you are reading this, and if it means anything to you, please put the trailer back where you found it at the Lake Street dock.
David C. Stanwood
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to Sen. Robert O'Leary and Rep. Eric Turkington
In response to your gracious offer to help the Island towns resolve the issues created by the formula which the Department of Education has generated to allocate the assessment of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School FY 2008 budget to each of the Island member towns, attached for your information is a comparison of the distribution among the Island towns of four factors used by the DOE in its calculations.
These distributions reveal that there are just two facts that the citizens of the Vineyard need to know in order to decide whether to accept the DOE "Statutory Formula," or unanimously reject it in favor of the student population user-based formula approved in the Regional High School Agreement.
1. Although the DOE formula is described as "wealth based," the formula which the DOE threatens to impose on the High School District FY Budget for the coming year does not include any wealth factors. The property value of each of the member towns is sufficiently high to provide for the Foundation Level of educational support for every student on the Island as required by the Education Reform Act. For this reason, the relative value of the wealth factors among the member towns is simply not a part of the calculation, as a comparison of columns 1 and 3 reveal.
2. Columns 2 and 3 reveal that the DOE formula to allocate assessments to each of the member towns is based on the distribution of total number of students among the member towns in 1994. Tisbury had 500 students in 1994, the highest enrollment on the Island. And so in 1994, based on per student cost, it paid the most. Oak Bluffs had 392 students, and it paid proportionately less. Oak Bluffs in 2007 has 636 students, the highest enrollment on the Island. Tisbury has increased to only 535 students, the third highest enrollment. Yet the DOE formula, because it is based on the 1994 enrollment proportion, expects the Tisbury taxpayers to pay more for the Foundation Level portion of the FY 2008 Regional High School Budget, and the Oak Bluffs taxpayers to pay appreciably less per student. So Tisbury is hit double: it paid more in 1994. And because that same distribution of students in 1994 is used to determine its share in 2006-8, Tisbury is expected to pay more again in 2008.
Can anyone think the DOE assessment formula is fair or equitable?
School funding formula sheds light on inequities
To the Editor:
Viewing the two February all-Island selectmen meetings on MVTV has been quite interesting. The selectmen have been discussing the choices available to the towns as we face implementation of the Massachusetts Department of Education's wealth based formula for regional school funding. All six towns must vote to forgo the state formula and keep our existing per pupil based formula.
At the meeting in early February, Oak Bluffs selectmen Ron DiOrio articulately explained how difficult it would be to convince Oak Bluffs town meeting voters to vote against the state D.O.E.'s plan because it represents a windfall for Oak Bluffs. Mr. DiOrio ruffled a few feathers by asking the proverbial what's in it for OB, if we agree with all the other towns and vote to keep the unfair formula we've had for 50 years? Most of the selectman agreed to the unfairness and were willing to discuss concessions if it meant preventing the implementation of the state plan.
Regrettably, at last week's meeting, Mr. DiOrio was not present. Selectman Kerry Scott was the lone Oak Bluffs representative. Ms. Scott, while having good intentions and hoping to maintain regional respect and cooperation, often forgoes her Oak Bluffs advocacy and becomes an OB apologist. At this meeting some selectmen took advantage of Mr. DiOrio's absence to criticize and misconstrue his comments. They also seemed less willing to truly address the inequities in our current regional per pupil formula.
I would agree that the state's formula has some "fuzzy math" and seems to be using some outdated Island statistics. None of us wants the state imposing its plan on us, and we all agree to maintain strong regional alliances because we are profoundly linked. However, the challenge of getting Oak Bluffs voters to bypass this windfall is going to be a tough sell. After all, we've had an unfair regional plan for 50 years, one that is only now being addressed and hopefully recalculated. Ironically, with all this talk of how united and interwoven we are as a region, those of us in Oak Bluffs with longer memories continue to wonder why it takes a looming state solution to inspire our fellow towns to recognize these disparities.
Steven H. Carreiro