Letters to the Editor
Misinformation from legislators on school formula
To the Editor:
l am sending copies of this letter to state Rep. Eric Turkington, state Sen. Robert 0'Leary and Associate Commissioner of Education Jeff Wulfson.
First of all, I would like to thank Art Smadbeck and the Edgartown board of selectmen for their leadership in trying to resolve the issues with regards of the Chapter 70 Assessment Formula. Since our state representatives and the Department of Education seem to be incapable of answering pertinent questions and have no interest to intervene, it is now up to us, Island voters, to cast our votes based on good conscience.
Therefore, I find our state officials' letter, published in both local papers of Feb. 22 and 23, alarming because of its misinformation and lack of important facts.
The issue is not about "how the Island towns are going to allocate the Chapter 70 state education aid funds received by the two regional school districts."
Martha's Vineyard has one regional high school, funded by six towns. Historically, this one school has had its operating budget funded on a per-pupil based cost in accordance with the regional agreement in effect since 1956 and amended in 1989. The Up- Island Regional District, as far as I can understand, at this point is not a factor with regards to the Chapter 70 assessment controversy.
The issue is not about allocating education aid funds; rather it is about assessing each town in order to pay for the annual operating budget of our one Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. According to the spreadsheets provided by school officials, the required foundation budget for FY08 for the MVRHS district( all six towns) is $8,038,109. The percentages of student population from each town are as follows: Oak Bluffs 26.04 percent, Edgartown 24.57 percent, Tisbury 22.75 percent, West Tisbury 20.56 percent, Aquinnah 3.16 percent and Chilmark 2.92 percent. These percentages are the ones under the Regional Agreement to assess each town and are adjusted annually to reflect changes in population.
Following is how the "wealth based" Chapter 70 formula, newly baptized as the Statutory Formula, is assessing each town to pay for the Regional High School's FY08 foundation budget of $8,038,109. Tisbury 25.53 percent, Edgartown 24.20 percent, Oak Bluffs 22.68 percent, West Tisbury 21.30 percent, Chilmark 3.71 percent and Aquinnah 2.57 percent. Note: Tisbury's population ranks third, yet is being assessed the most.
Now please, Mr. O'Leary and Mr. Turkington, before you tell me that I am using incorrect figures, allow me to share with you that we are presently half way through FY07 and not half way through FY08. The figures you quoted in your letter are for FY09. On Martha's Vineyard, we are still in 2007 and according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, we newly started 4705, the Year of the Pig.
Responding to number three in your letter: "It is only the foundation budget that is at issue here." Wrong again. Please follow the spreadsheet that you have for FYO8 (same issue, different $$ until FY 11). In FY08, Oak Bluffs has a foundation budget of $4,449,348 while Tisbury's is $3,818,768. If indeed it is the foundation budget that drives the bottom line, why then is Tisbury's assessment, $228,784, more than Oak Bluffs using the new formula for FY08?
Look instead on the top, line (A) of the FY08 spreadsheet:
FY07 required contribution: Oak Bluffs $4,410,595 and Tisbury $5,331,064. These are the numbers that ultimately produce the discrepancies we have been trying to have the DOE explain. Where do these figures come from? I believe that Jim Norton is on the right track. His research shows that possibly the DOE is basing the formula on population data from 1994.
Repeatedly, we have been told that only three people in the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts understand the new formula. Obviously they are not Mr. Turkington, Mr. O'Leary, or Mr. Wulfson. Please tell us who they are, and I am sure we can find funds to invite one of the formula gurus to come to Martha's Vineyard to help put this mystery to rest once and for all.
As to number four, you mentioned that some towns' new assessments will result in savings and others in losses. Let's make it clear that these savings, or "windfalls" as some neighboring town officials like to call it, shall be fully funded by Chilmark, Tisbury and West Tisbury, and will not cost the state a penny. Might one or all of these three towns be forced to vote for an override to pay "state education aid" to the remaining three towns? The so-called "losses" of the three towns are in fact extra expenses above and beyond the actual expenditures of the per pupil cost at the high school. In the same breath our state representative and senator inform us that "in succeeding years each town's gains and losses would decline rapidly into insignificance." May I just point out that by FY11, Tisbury will have paid an excess of $459,808, Chilmark $249,881, and West Tisbury $69,648. Any guarantees that the DOE or whoever creates this magic will not start the hocus pocus all over again?
And by the way, in FY11, Tisbury will still have to pay $50,715 more than it would have if using the per pupil based formula. $50,715 is enough to fund one new teacher. Maybe these figures don't mean much to Mr. Turkington or Mr. O'Leary. Perhaps one or both of you would like to attend Tisbury's Annual Town Meeting in April. We can then hear firsthand the insignificance of paying an extra (not lost) $459,808, so neighboring towns can send their children to the same high school for far less money.
In your final paragraphs, you stated that most of the regional districts in the state have encountered the same problems. Mr. Wulfson, in a telephone conversation on Dec. 30, 2006, informed me that the Vineyard's situation is totally unique and unfair, because of the fact that all six towns' land values and wealth are above the limit. So, who am I to believe? Other officials have agreed with Mr. Wulfson as well.
I am glad that you "appreciatively are following the Vineyard conversations" and I too am heartened by the emerging of an all-Island dialogue spearheaded by the Edgartown board of selectmen. However, could I take you up on your offer to help in any way?
Would you or your staff be able to locate one of the three people who understand the formula? Would you also please furnish Tisbury's town accountant with DOR's list of names of the people attributed as taxpayers using 02568 as their Zip Code? Please don't tell me wealth doesn't matter. Until we receive honest explanations, everything matters.
Borrowing our new governor's slogan, I close with: "Together We Can".
State gives and takes
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
I am writing you as a member of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission and major supporter of the Island Plan of Martha's Vineyard, being led by the Martha's Vineyard Commission, to acknowledge and endorse your efforts on behalf of the state's cities and towns.
Your concerns regarding the whole economic climate and engine of the state and the need to begin at grass roots level of municipalities is especially cogent. When this is coupled with the private sector's emphasis on small businesses as job creators; the between 15-20 percent of retail sales through franchising; a continuing decentralization of corporations; and even micro-lending worldwide, the evidence is clear that "small is in, economically." This also says that as an Island, whether it is a county, or another form of government, it is essential an Island's well-being make sense economically.
Unfortunately, we here on Martha's Vineyard face a genuine conundrum regarding local expenditures that could wash away any benefit of increased local revenues by imposing unrealistic conditions on our regional school assessments. The Education Reform Act of 1993 included a statute with the intent to guarantee equal access to schooling independent of local taxing ability through use of a formula reflecting the wealth and income of individual cities and towns within any regional school district. Martha's Vineyard Regional High School had already been operating some 40 years with a regional agreement, and was spending on education at twice the state per pupil average that was renegotiated in 1989 to a tuition based system, where each town in the district exceeded the Foundation Budget the legislation was addressing.
This past fall, the Massachusetts Department of Education issued an order imposing the requirement that the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School adopt the 1993 ERA formula as a means of allocating the regional school budget to the individual Island towns. This order was accompanied by a set of guidelines that allocated per pupil expenses that differed by as much as 75 percent between Island towns. This was in clear violation of our original regional agreement's premise of an equal tuition per student across the Island, and quite outside the Foundation Budget's intent of the 1993 ERA legislation.
Since our school system receives minimum state funding, we think this DOE interpretation of 1993 ERA Statute is meddling in local affairs by dictating our town's discretionary budget allocation well beyond the intent of original legislation.
School funding which represents almost exactly 40 percent of the Island towns' aggregate budgets is the major element of public funding on the Island, and hence a harbinger of how the public sector of our Island economy operates. As an Island, and the only multi-municipality Island in the state, and one of very few in the country and world, Martha's Vineyard has worked nearly four centuries to have a governance structure that respects individuality of the Island towns while preserving an Island community.
Our regional high school funding agreement, which has been in effect for 50 years, and predicated on equal per pupil financing across the Island reflects the pinnacle in equity among the multiple towns of our Island community and deserves to stand.
Repeatedly, Island town and school officials have attempted to obtain explanations of rationale for imposing this unrealistic allocation without success. The best answer that we can develop for this highly differentiated allocation is that it's predicated on pupil populations more than 10 years old. Further, impact of imposing a statutory formula with unrealistic census information could have a sufficient impact in certain towns to cause a deteriorating influence on the whole Island's school system. Since Martha's Vineyard has both a regional high school involving all Island towns, and an up-Island grammar school district involving three towns, along with a public charter school, the prioritization of educational expenditures in individual towns is a complex situation we have found over the years best handled with uniform per pupil costs.
We request the help of your good offices in allowing the Martha's Vineyard Schools to retain the existing regional agreement structure as extremely equitable permanently, or at least for the coming fiscal year until this whole situation can be resolved. Town meetings are bearing down on each of the Island towns, and the Vineyard's regional high school district must decide on a recommended budget allocation in early March.
In any discussion with the Department of Education, Martha's Vineyard schools, our local towns' leadership and general public believe we are more than complying with the intent of 1993 Education Reform Act in funding schools at more than twice the State average on a per pupil basis.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this vital matter to our Island's educational heritage of investing in our future generation.
More attention, please
To the Editor:
I would like to thank the Martha's Vineyard Times for giving Matthew Goldfarb and me a great thrill; one not felt in many years. In the paper dated March 1, I read the story (both sentences) about the MV Youth Hockey Peewees winning the League Championships and how Matthew and I both scored goals to help beat Nantucket. It has been a long time (okay, a very long time) since I have scored a goal in a Peewee game. Matthew and I are actually the coaches of the Peewee team that beat Nantucket, and in fact did not score goals. (Ironically, MV Youth Hockey is very fortunate to have a parent who reports game stats to the Times. He knows the game and the players very well, and is consistently accurate.)
The story in The Times consists of two sentences, yet covers three games; the toughest and closest games of our season. On Saturday, Feb. 17, the guys fought back to tie the game after being behind for most of it, and scored the winning goal with just eight seconds left in the game. On Saturday Feb. 24, as the third-place team in our league, we went off-Island to play in the League Championships. That morning we beat the second place team (Lower Cape) and in the afternoon of the same day, we beat the first place team (Nantucket) to become the 2006-2007 CCYHL Peewee Champions.
Could these three games warrant more than two sentences? These kids played unbelievably well, worked very hard, and inspired fans, coaches and refs with their efforts. They, and their families, deserve more credit, kudos and attention. Hockey is a great sport; the best I think. However, it is very time consuming, physically demanding, and financially straining. (Ice time and equipment costs are staggering). The dedication shown by the kids and families throughout the season is truly amazing.
Perhaps the MV Times would consider writing more about this team? Actually, I suspect the residents of the Island would like to read about the entire MV youth hockey program, a program with five levels of dedicated kids, families, board members and coaches, a program, which in this season alone, produced three champions and one finalist. And, countless good times, experiences, and lessons, for all involved.
Thanks again for the thrill, but the real thrill will be seeing the players and their families get the attention and praise they deserve.
for the hospital
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to quality improvement at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
I would like to propose a new, much needed job position. This would be an orderly/runner to assist and deliver elderly and disabled people from drop off points at building entries to their designated appointments.
I was born and raised here on the Island. Both of my folks passed on here while being lovingly cared for in the then Long Term Care Unit of the hospital. Three of my four children were born here as well. Over the years the family has utilized the many services here, and received wonderful care, with appropriate referrals when necessary.
With the explosion of the elderly population, retirees, and the large group of aging baby boomers, the need will only be greater as time goes on. As you must be aware, the drop off areas are most precarious. People using Cardio, PT, blood lab, or dialysis park every which way in this small space; a nightmare waiting to happen, a near disaster almost every time one enters the area during the week. There are many folks in wheel chair or requiring various pieces of medical equipment with them that disembark here. The added fact that there is a bicycle path through here is beyond belief.
Solution: to repeat, a person hired to escort folks from the hospital entrances, to their appointment, or to an area to be retrieved by someone from within the unit that they are visiting. Radios, phones, or the like could be used to orchestrate and co-ordinate the appropriate party and the runner/orderly, to complete the task. This orderly would be a full-time, uniformed employee of the hospital during the weekdays.
Wouldn't this be a wonderful service to offer our Island community, and so very helpful to so many.
Jenny Painter Seward
a losing proposition
To the Editor:
Congratulations to the Aquinnah selectmen for their leadership in placing a beer and wine initiative on the March 8 special town meeting. As a former West Tisbury social studies teacher, the irony of history interests me. Allowing the voters the opportunity to vote for a home rule petition that would place the repeal of Prohibition in the next town election finally brings Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal to the Vineyard. By 1931, most Americans realized that Prohibition was a mistake and were ready to repeal it, except for President Hoover, who actually increased government spending to enforce a losing proposition. The 1932 presidential election came, and a new president, FDR, supported the repeal of Prohibition. He used America's resources to combat the Great Depression.
Today, Islanders, first-time visitors, seasonal homeowners, and guests alike, have less desire, fuel and or time to drive from one town to another, purchase beer and wine, transport a cooler, just to have a glass of beer or wine at the non-Oak Bluffs or Edgartown restaurant of their choice. Just like Prohibition, the dry part doesn't keep beer and wine away, it just makes it so responsible adults unwittingly end up breaking the law by re-corking what is left, driving with unfinished bottles, or even drinking more than they intended because a lighter cooler is easier to bring back to the car.
Both Tisbury and Aquinnah voters have the opportunity to use their resources to support responsible economic development in a way that does not change either town's character, just acknowledges that dry is really a huge misnomer, does not exist, and that regulated beer and wine is much more in keeping with our desires to protect and enhance our Vineyard way of life. A "new deal" in Tisbury and Aquinnah would not do anything more than just provide the opportunity for the towns to collect additional revenue that is currently being spent on coolers and their contents.
The Mansion House
the Vineyard's future
To the Editor:
The District of Critical Planning Concern is a tool that allows Vineyarders to create overlay districts for things that we value. It gives us the ability to protect "the unique natural, historical, ecological, scientific, cultural and other values" of the Island and "protect those values from development and uses which would impair them, and promote the enhancement of sound local economies." We are lucky to have this tool. It allows us to preserve what we love about the Vineyard for future generations - your children and grandchildren and beyond.
One issue of increasing significance to Island life is energy. There are lots of reasons that energy is of concern to you: its rising price impacts you individually and as a taxpayer; uncertain supply of easily obtainable oil will have a big impact on your and the Vineyard's future; and the environmental impacts associated with the burning of fossil fuels, that the majority of scientists now concur are underway, will change life on this island as we now know it.
James Hansen of NASA, in a recent webcast to the United States architectural community, stated that a one degree Celsius rise in temperature is the limit "to avoid our living on a different planet." He claims that we have 10 years in which to make significant changes. Ed Mazria, a well-respected architect from New Mexico, has urged architects to take on this challenge and ratchet down our energy use such that by 2030, building projects are carbon-neutral and have no negative impact on the climate.
We need to rise to this challenge. The Vineyard depends almost entirely on imported energy, and we have a steadily increasing annual energy bill. Fossil fuels are our major source for electricity generation, heating and transportation. Burning these fuels results in air and water pollution and contributes to climate change. Rising sea levels, more frequent and severe hurricanes; increased temperature and resulting health risks from insect-borne diseases will impact many of our ecosystems, as well as our tourist-dependent economy.
We have seen unprecedented growth in the last decade. The average house size has increased and there are greater numbers of above average size houses (6,000 square feet and upward) being built, coupled with a trend toward year-round energy use in houses even if they are often unoccupied. In addition, greater numbers of vehicles are being registered and used on the Island. As energy prices rise and supplies of oil decrease, these trends will be of increasing significance to our economy and way of life. It is said that anyone currently under the age of 30 will live in a post-oil world. It has also been said that rising energy costs will mean "the end of the 3,000 mile Caesar salad" as energy costs making shipping food great distances prohibitive.
We have the ability to take these energy issues and turn them into good things for the Vineyard: things that will continue our tradition as a unique community - a place where people like to live and visit. Living Local, a day-long event on April 28, will present the energy challenge before us and illustrate the opportunities we currently have and others we might consider to increase our local reliance. The topics of energy production and efficiency will be highlighted as well as local farm and food production, water and waste solutions.
The DCPC tool is a second opportunity. The warrant article before West Tisbury town meeting voters asks for your town's selectmen to appoint three representatives to an Island-wide advisory group to discuss possible ideas for how an energy DCPC could serve us: help us use energy more efficiently and produce greater amounts of energy locally. There is no preconceived idea as to what these discussions will bring. The idea is to bring our minds together to use this tool to start to shape an energy future for the Vineyard that is pro-active and serves us well in times to come. An Island energy discussion has begun with the Island Plan's energy/waste group. It is hoped that some of the ideas and minds from that group, as well as others, will contribute to the DCPC discussions.
We are a strong community, with the ability to accomplish things that would not be possible in other communities. For so many reasons, we cannot afford to wait on this issue. Please join in Living Local and the DCPC initiative to help us get started.
On another subject, boy, was I misquoted or misunderstood in The Times article last week about the space needs committee's report. What I said was that "the greenest building is the one never built" and "the second greenest building is the one that is already built." I explained that this is because of the embodied energy that is in the materials of the already existing building. I spoke of some of the virtues of the current town hall: its natural daylight and ventilation features and spoke about renovating and restoring it so that it could last another 150 years. That would be my choice.
Regardless of what the town decides on this issue, I most strongly expressed that everything possible should be done to make our town hall as energy efficient as possible, because operating costs are increasingly significant and will play a large part in the building's being a gift and not a burden to future generations.
Give the money back
To the Editor:
Nothing surprises me anymore with Oak Bluffs and their crooked politics. I just wanted to say, if you have so much of our extra tax money floating around that you feel like you need to give it away on a whim, or you just happen to think that the recipient is a nice guy, then stop and wait a minute. Give it back to us. That's right, the poor peons who pay your check every week. The ones who struggle year round to make it here. The ones who dread the tax collector's demand notice when your taxes are 30 days late.
Also, why on earth would anyone vote for this Community Preservation Act? Did they make it sound that they needed you to say, okay, go ahead and bleed us some more. Our initial taxes should pay for any preserving that needs to be done. Not to be taxed again. The elderly struggle with how they will come up with the ridiculous amount of money they have to pay to keep their homes and not end up in a nursing home, and have their freedom sucked right out from under them.
I guess we are all in the wrong line of work. We'd like to have a job that we only have to show up for 20 hours a week, get paid an exorbitant amount and perks on top. Wow. Where do I apply? I have also received bonuses on various jobs, but 10 grand. Again I picked the wrong job.
What is wrong with you people? You are running everybody out. Stop the frigging spending of our hard-earned money and making it easy street for your select few. Maybe it's time we did away with all selectmen and trade for a mayor.
If any of you vote for Casey Sharpe, you're just digging us in deeper. Not too many years from now you will see very few Island faces. What you become will be of your own making, and I don't think you're going to like what you see.
Thank God for Kerry
To The Editor
Thank God we have someone with the intelligence, integrity and fortitude of Kerry Scott on the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen.
Keep up the good work Kerry.
A magical place
To the Editor:
It has been interesting following the current debate on Chilmark Beach access. In Brian Kinal's letter, he talks about the original meaning or purpose of the restrictions to the access to Lucy Vincent beach, which, as we understand it, was to preserve it for the residents of Chilmark. But the residents of Chilmark are mostly from other states now, and so his letter was on the mark, I thought. Lucy Vincent is a magical place. If you do not go there in the off-season, you are missing out because it is then when the beach is not cluttered with people and in its primitive state that you can really get a feel for the incredibly special treasure that it is. That is not to say that Islanders should not be able to use it in the summer, but it simply makes it all the more poignant that the rest of the Island is denied access. Last evening, during the eclipse of the moon Lucy Vincent was intense and my camera recorded it. For those who are interested, the photos can be seen at http://www.pbase.com/pbasenow/lucy_vincent.
Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs
Keep Islander busy
To the Editor:
Why wait for August for the total demise of the condemned bridge which joins Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs? Now is the ideal time to remove said bridge and to wedge the Islander in its place so that the ferry's open car doors create a perfect bridge/tunnel. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic will be easily accommodated along the hull-hugging route. The middle deck could house a T-shirt store, a cocktail lounge (on the Oak Bluffs side), a Game Room, and a Bait & Tackle shop. And, of course, there will be dining 'al fresco' on the top deck with special seating for sunsets over West Chop and seasonal fireworks over Vineyard Haven harbor.
One expects a flurry of outrage from boat owners in the Lagoon but ambulance drivers and their clients may vote "yes" for this new career op for our beloved Islander!
No more funds for war
To the Editor,
In a few days, Congress will conduct the most important Iraq vote since authorizing invasion in 2002. It's a vote to either approve or reject President Bush's request for $100 billion dollars more.
If our public servants deny this supplemental funding, troop withdrawal will begin, Iraqis will regain control of their country, tensions will ease, and lives will be saved (much like the events following the de funding of the Viet Nam war). But if they give President Bush the $100 billion, the occupation, anger, attacks, and deaths will continue.
The next few days offer you and me an important opportunity, too. We can try to persuade Senators Kennedy, Kerry, and Rep. Delahunt to reject the $100 billion request. And if our calls are successful, we will have a reason to hold our heads high.
Their toll free number is 1 888 851 1879.
To the Editor:
This is an account of the (unpaid) deputy shellfish wardens. Ask any one of us, what do you do? They will all tell you the same thing (nothing).
When Joe Sutton was warden, we opened Great Pond and Oyster Pond by hand. We moved scallop seed into deeper water where the wind and seagulls wouldn't get them. When the ponds were open we got the school kids and the (unpaid) wardens to gather the exposed oyster seed to deeper water. We made spat collectors for the scallops and put them in the ponds that weren't producing, made collectors for oysters and any other propagation project we could think of. Joe gave us badges, and we all felt pride in helping out the fishery.
When the new warden took over, I approached him to try and organize the volunteer wardens. He didn't want anything to do with us. In 1990, there were 34 volunteer wardens; in 2005, there are only 10 and no organization. We want to organize.
The town fisheries are in dire straits. It's a sad state of affairs when you got more (paid) wardens than fishermen. I didn't want to get political, but Nature is begging me to. It's going to take hard work and the community to bring back our dying fishery. I want to see the volunteer wardens to be under the shellfish committee and not the constable, so we can organize our volunteer wardens and start doing what we were meant to do: help the town fisheries.
William (Boo) Bassett
To the Editor:
On Feb. 12, a meeting was held at the Ok Bluffs School for two Island parent populations: parents of students who receive services under Title 1, and parents of students whose first language is other than English. As is so often the case in this community, Island businesses generously lent their support. Mocha Mott's continued its tradition of donating coffee and all the fixings for school events, this time for 50 people. In addition, four lucky people received door prizes given by Mocha's, Stop & Shop, Cronig's, and EduComp.
Thank you to these businesses and the people who own and run them for our support of the schools, parents and children of Martha's Vineyard.
Sue Costello, Title 1 Coordinator
Debbie Hart, ELL Director
Martha's Vineyard Public Schools
To the Editor:
I've sent this letter to Richard Leonard, president of the Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank.
On behalf of the residents, staff, and board of trustees, please accept our sincere thanks and deep appreciation for bringing the Vineyard Vibes community outreach program to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
The music therapy workshop provided by Berklee's Music Therapy Department professor Karen Wacks, and alumna and music therapist Antonia Navarro on Feb. 16 was a wonderful experience for everyone involved at Windemere.
Over 30 residents, staff, and volunteers enjoyed the morning session of music, singing and movement. The afternoon workshop was also well attended by staff from a variety of departments including nursing, recreational therapy, social workers, volunteers and members of the public. The workshop was interactive, fun, and innovative, and Ms. Wacks's and Ms. Navarro's message that music is a healing medium that lifts the spirit and brings people together from all walks of life and age groups was met with heartfelt agreement by everyone. Please also extend our thanks to Patti Leighton for helping to coordinate the day. She did a great job.
Again, we are very grateful to you and Martha's Vineyard Co-op Bank for lifting all of our spirits last Friday and reminding us of our own commitment to maintain Windemere's vitality in our community.
Timothy J. Walsh
President & CEO
Martha's Vineyard Hospital
To the Editor:
Step aside, Julius, with your silly little "Veni, Vidi, Vici." The Democrats are back in town, and their motto, "Veni, Vidi, Fugi, Iterum" is king. I came, I saw, I ran away, again.
To the Editor:
On a recent trip to the Cape, my wife and I visited numerous beaches in the Wellfleet area, and I couldn't help but wonder how they dealt with their people/beach issues. The sign at one of the entrances read something like this: Town residents annual pass $50, non-resident day $10, week $50, month $100, season $200.
Let's see, two individuals working two more hours per day, (say we'll pay them $20 an hour, seven days a week for four months. That's $80 dollars a day, $560 dollars a week, $2,240 a month, or $8,960 for the season.
Now, with only 20 non-resident season walk-on passes, we are already at $4,000. Almost half way to recovering the costs of extra hours staffing.
Add to that merely five walk-on passes per day for the season, accounting for bad weather days, well subtract 20 of the 120-day season and there's $5,000 more, for a total of $9,000 for the season.
These are conservative numbers as well. I know at least 30 Islanders who would buy season passes right now.
As far as access to the road to Hornblower's goes, the parking attendants should keep the road clear. It's a good idea.
On the issue of safety, let's be truthful here, is anyone employed by the town of Chilmark beach department certified in even basic lifesaving? How about hazardous surf conditions? I'm going to trust my life to a preoccupied college student sleeping in his car, or a septuagenarian whose cataracts keep him from seeing even parking stickers unless he's inches away? I don't think life saving is an issue here. On the contrary, these surfers you try to keep out are responsible for numerous life savings over the years.
Had someone not been there with some sort of flotation device and knowledge of the ocean, people would have died. Think about it.
The town may also be under pressure from the property owners it leases the beach from on the grounds of liability. If so, I would like to publicly ask the landowners and the town of Chilmark for permission to pass from the town road across 100 feet of private land to the water's edge.
No parking. I understand that its the limited resource. I don't even want to sit on the beach. I just want to use the surrounding waters, which I feel is my right.
Squibby is a unique place. Literally. The bathymetry of the waters there is unique to the South Shore. The rocks have contours that create upwards of five different surf breaks when there is a swell running. That's why we all flock there. To deny people access to such a unique resource is criminal. How long before someone buys Yosemite and locks it up for himself?
To the Editor:
To you folks there at Martha's Vineyard, welcome aboard your new ferry MV Island Home. You now have a real modern vessel to enjoy.
To us Puget Sounders, she really looks like a Northwest ferry. She is, in a major way, Seattle-designed by the Elliott Bay Design Group. For the first time, you are enjoying some of the amenities that we have aboard the ferries here. A full width saloon deck cabin with a galley at one end, offices and heads the other end, and with windows all around to look out of, and plenty of seating. The saloon deck ends of the Island Home are almost exactly the same as the 460-foot Mark II jumbo ferries Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Puyallup with the same access ways to the sun deck.
When you drive aboard on the main deck, you are flanked by two 'tween deck stowable ramps and 'tween deck side lounges.
I have been enjoying reading all the stories on this form of media you are reading now, as well as the MV Gazette, on how you folks are describing the size of the new Island Home. She is an awesome sight for you Vineyard folks. Biggest ferry you have ever seen there. For us here on Puget Sound and British Columbia, she is a cute miniature replica of the 457-foot BC ferry Queen of Coquitclam (enclosed car deck with doors at each end) and the above mentioned Tacoma (saloon deck ends). A large number of ferries here are larger than the ferries that serve Staten Island, down your way in New York. British Columbia is getting three new 525-footers from Flensburger of Germany.
My workmates and I have been enjoying watching the Island Home come and go on the MVT webcam. We often take polls of which slip (right or left) she is using before her landings. Great job, MVT.
I hope I haven't tongue-twisted you folks in the neat names we have here, but hope all you Vineyarders are enjoying riding your new MV Island Home.
From all of us ferry fans here on Puget Sound, we welcome you Vineyarders aboard your new MV Island Home. Ride her wisely, and leave her the same as you boarded her. Enjoy.