Letters to the Editor
Comforts of home for soldiers
To the Editor:
All American soldiers miss the comforts of home, particularly when they are stationed overseas near or in combat zones. They obviously work long, hard hours, often in dangerous and uncomfortable situations. Unfortunately, when they do get some downtime, there are few resources available to help them relax. They don't have the luxury of flipping on the TV, going out with friends, or simply indulging in a late-afternoon sweet.
Whether or not you are in favor of our soldiers' mission overseas, they deserve our support and compassion. One way Islanders can support our troops is by donating non-perishable snacks or entertainment such at DVD's, decks of cards, magazines, and anything else that is easy to pack. These items can be dropped off in a bin labeled "Support Our Troops" in the Edgartown Stop and Shop or the Vineyard Haven Cronig's. The goods will be sent by Edgartown's own Ashley Blake, directly to her husband, another Islander, PFC Daniel Blake, to be shared with his company in Afghanistan. Ms. Blake can be also be reached through e-mail at Fauteux_5@msn.com.
If you know another Island soldier who could use our support, please post how they can be reached, so the community can help them, too. It takes a village to raise a child, and that same village is needed to keep a grown man afloat. Thank you for your contributions.
No to hasty Shiretown decision
To the Editor:
The idea of paving paradise and putting up a parking lot was once written in a song. It wasn't a good idea then, and it isn't a good idea now. What are we thinking?
To take part of the prime downtown character and charm of Edgartown and turn it into a parking lot is crazy. And, why do the selectman think this needs to be done on a fast track? They are all ready to put this on a special town meeting, when we have too many of these special meetings to begin with.
Does anyone still think $3 to $4 million is a lot of money? Does any one look at their tax bill? Do you realize the tax loss to the town? Depending on what is there, it will be over $10,000 a year forever. We overspent for one property at a rushed special town meeting, and we still have done nothing with that, and now we need to rush again. Large expenditures of this kind should only be done at regular town meetings. And only after months of discussion, some drawings and time for people to digest it all.
If the developers of the Shiretown Inn really think this is good for the town, then they have the ability to donate this to the town and be heroes. There is a history of Edgartown business people, who have made small fortunes out of this town, giving small fortunes back to the town. Let's see if life repeats itself. For me, even for free I would not want to see another small piece of this beautiful town paved over forever.
The old Shiretown Inn was unique to itself and served a good purpose, with a loyal cliental. The town does not have to be all Disneyland-like and change will happen, but a parking lot should not be one of them. On the Chappy ferry line issue, we have never given the Edgartown School lot a chance for the Chappy line to work. I would suggest we try that before we go and spend real money on destroying the character of town. Stay tuned, and I hope people wake up and see what is going on here.
Middle Line Road abutters speak up
To the Editor:
This letter was written to the members of the Chilmark planning board.
At the recent planning board public hearing, April 30, 2007, regarding the proposed Middle Line Road Housing Project, several major points seemed to emerge from the selectmen's presentation. They stressed the need to keep the project affordable and indicated that limiting options would accomplish this goal. They also urged moving ahead aggressively with the permitting processes, as a great deal of time had already passed in trying to get the project approved. Their comments were that the project was not perfect but good enough, because it met town requirements for development. We think that the town should take the time to make their affordable housing project something to be proud of, not merely adequate.
We would like to offer some additional information for your consideration. Enclosed please find a copy of a letter which we sent to the selectmen and the housing committee in February, 2005, at the time the town was considering funding the study/preliminary plan for this property by South Mountain Company. We received no response to our letter.
At many subsequent meetings of the board of selectmen and the housing committee which we attended, we continued to ask about two areas of concern: what about the road access for the Middle Line Road proposal? What about considering the continued development of the town-owned land at Peaked Hill Pasture? No clear explanations were given and no answers offered. We then asked the selectmen to put the question of Peaked Hill Pasture before the voters as a town meeting warrant article for discussion. We were again denied, with no real explanation.
Then the problems arose with conflict of interest etc. and the board decided that the process had to be redone, causing further delay. It seems pretty obvious that trying to rush the project through without all the facts is misguided at best.
Our comments are these. Keeping the project affordable should first of all consider the site. The Middle Line Road property is extremely complex as even the project architect, David Hanlon, and the selectmen stated at the public hearing. Why is the board trying to squeeze the land to fit the project, rather than design something less densely sited to suit the land? Again, why is Peaked Hill Pasture not being considered as part of this development for affordable housing?
Second is the issue of the road access. How can this project proceed when the access is not yet secured? From our viewpoint, the town's approach to the possible acquisition of the property owned by Blair Emin, Keith Emin, and Walter Jenkinson, which might be used for access, has been unprofessional and, frankly, disrespectful.
The land is owned by the three family members. Various town officials have alternately and separately made the following verbal offers to them. One was the offer of electricity rights, which we had already purchased through private owners on Hammett Lane over 20 years ago. Additionally, the planning board, in its approval of the Emin/Jenkinson subdivision in 1985, had stated that utilities were not to come over that section of the road (minutes Sept. 9, 1985).
The next offer involved the waiver of the 40-foot road layout required for subdivisions for the "existing 150-foot section of Middle Line Road of variable width between the end of the laid out right of way and the Emin property." This had also already been approved by the planning board at the same meeting (minutes: Sept. 9, 1985).
The last offer involved a sum of money for purchase of the property. None of these "offers" were made to all three owners together nor formally. Rather, they were made individually with instructions to "tell" each of the others.
One attempted meeting of all parties a few days prior to the public hearing was held despite the knowledge that two of the three owners could not attend. The day of the public hearing, personal contacts and phone calls were received, again individually, to see if a "deal" was made.
This seems improper to us. Who negotiates for the town? Who offers or decides upon compensation, either financial or otherwise? Do these decisions have to be made by town meeting vote? We have always felt that all parties should sit down together to discuss this formally.
From the beginning, as the abutters most directly affected by this proposal, we have attempted to work with the town in a reasonable way. All we asked was open discussion of all the possibilities and issues, and then let the town decide based on all the facts. Finally yesterday, as we have been suggesting, the selectmen asked for a meeting of all necessary parties to be held Tuesday, May 8, at noon.
To date, we have been disappointed and frustrated with the apparent disregard for our concerns. We certainly hope that all future discussions will be open, honest, and considerate.
Blair J. Emin
Diane Brady Emin
Walter A. "Pat" Jenkinson
Joan W. Jenkinson
To the Editor:
How proud I am of the Oak Bluffs Police Department for being receptive and visionary to a much-needed outreach pamphlet for our Brazilian neighbors. What an asset this document is in clarifying some of the differences between the world of Martha's Vineyard and Brazil. Any such bilingual documents are so appreciated by new residents and makes all our lives so much easier and so positive.
Congratulations to Chief Erik Blake, a former student of mine, who has put into practice what was taught in our Government class.
Asst Supt for Curriculum and Instruction
A good person
To the Editor:
As so many of us mourn the death of Mandred Henry, we reflect on his long devotion to the NAACP, his sensitive and caring years with Island Hospice, and his many other life joys and interests.
To me, Mandred personified the definition of "a good person." He was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, fearless, and reverent - all the attributes defining a good person. He was a friend I'll miss forever.
Marie B. Allen
Two great loves
To the Editor:
Phil Craig said: "In the spring of 1955, I went, on a whim, to Martha's Vineyard. The whim had a name: Shirley. I had never been on an island, and I had imagined it to be a mound of sand with a palm tree in the middle. I was astonished to discover that the Vineyard had electricity, and I fell instantly in love with its beauty."
He caught up with Shirley Prada that spring, of course, and that lasted 50 years. So did his love affair with the Island. It was mutual.
He will be missed
To the Editor:
I just learned of the death of Wayne George six weeks ago. He was an excellent house painter, a premiere darts competitor, and a good man.
Many will miss Wayne. More than he could ever imagine.
Edgartown and Charlestown
To the Editor:
I have two comments regarding Kelly Wheeler's letter, entitled "Affordable housing, yes, but what about the rules" which appeared in the May 3, 2007 edition of the MV Times. First, it seems that Ms. Wheeler suffers from the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndrome. While she professes to be in support of affordable housing, the many points she has made in her letter seem to prove otherwise.
I would encourage Ms. Wheeler to better seek to understand, by talking to Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard staff or board members and others involved with affordable housing on the Island and by visiting Habitat's web site (www.habitatmv.org) or perhaps the Vineyard Housing Office's web site (www.vineyardhousing.org) for further clarification. By doing so, maybe her many grievances would be addressed. I would also urge her to drive by the existing Habitat houses on the Island to see firsthand how beautifully they are constructed and how well they fit into their respective neighborhoods.
Ms. Wheeler has undoubtedly done a lot to enhance her personal life, but each person's circumstances are different and unique to them. Today's realities often make it hard for many to attain the dream of home ownership and that dream is even more difficult to reach when living on Martha's Vineyard, where land is limited and extremely expensive. Many year-round, two income families cannot afford to make ends meet here, and I am sure it is even harder for a single parent to exist on the Vineyard. Thankfully, creative means have been sought to make this an inclusive place for all, and allowances are sometimes made whereby a lot deemed as non-buildable might be used for the purpose of affordable housing.
Secondly, as a minority, I found Ms. Wheeler's opening line of "I live next door to a Brazilian homeowner" to be both offensive and unnecessary. Her point should have been that her neighbor is looking to subdivide and sell his property, with no mention of his ethnic background, which was irrelevant to the crux of her letter.
Naina L. Williams
Oak Bluffs and Washington, D.C.
To the Editor:
The Boston Globe, on April 29, told of energetic Paula Aschettino of Eastham, who has organized Cape residents understandably upset by the difficulties of obtaining home insurance in our area now. Islanders interested in assisting with her efforts can contact the organization (numbering over 1,000 members at present) at homeownersinsurancereform.org.
War in perspective
To the Editor:
The main offender of my "no long letters rule" wrote in to last week's Times. He thinks Sen. Harry Reid should resign because the senator said the Iraq war is lost. Let's put the senator's comments about the war in perspective. Here is another senator's comment on the war. "The White House is completely disconnected from reality" and "the reality is that we're losing in Iraq." Nebraska Republican senator and Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel said that in 2005. Even better, somebody else four years ago uttered these words under a "mission accomplished" banner on an aircraft carrier. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."
In closing, end beach apartheid.
To the Editor:
I am writing to congratulate the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School for furthering their work implementing innovative teaching methods.
While flipping through the Gazette online, I came across the article "Seniors Step Up for Cutting-Edge Studies," written by Rachel Nava Rohr. The article details two projects being created by high school seniors, Katelin Medeiros and Tiffany Smalley. I am quite impressed by their projects and those similarly being completed regularly at the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School. Student-designed projects like these present major learning opportunities. I believe that the education the Island high schools are providing through independent projects places our students at the forefront of college preparation.
The skills vital to college success hinge on independent learning. They are difficult skills to learn because they do not rely on tangible, content-based memorization of information. Rather, they must be discovered by each person. Each person must develop their own unique techniques to master independence.
Student directed projects accomplished during one's high school years provide the environment for students to develop college skills. Independent projects allow students to follow their interests and passions while mastering research techniques, confidence, independence, and time management. These skills provide strong college preparation, and I wholeheartedly believe that the independence Katelin and Tiffany have experienced will serve them well in their college years and beyond.
I currently attend Wheaton College, and I am a proud graduate of the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School. My experience at the Charter School was fantastic and it prepared me well for the difficulty of college life. Allowing students to follow their own interest while gaining valuable skills and knowledge is what education should be all about. The Charter School has been faithfully dedicated to developing independent, lifelong learners since its founding. Employing student interests, the Charter School crafts a unique education for each individual student. Through the use of independent projects (known as portfolios and juried exhibitions) combined with classroom learning and mentorships, intermingled with support and guidance, the Charter School reinforces and teaches independence.
Seeing innovative teaching methods being implemented at both Martha's Vineyard high schools gives me hope that we are preparing a well-educated group of citizens for the future. I only wish that the Island would freely exchange ideas and resources in support of all high school students on Martha's Vineyard.
I'm grateful towards the Charter School for giving me the skills to self-direct my own learning and manage my own time. I know the students at the Regional High School will have the same success with project-based learning that the graduates of the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School have had. Congratulations again to the Martha's Vineyard High Schools.
Many helping hands
To the Editor:
Thank you for your coverage of Living Local and the model solar car race that took place on April 28, with 160 registered sixth-grade racers. The race was a fun event with schools and community joining together to cheer the racers on. We'd like to thank everyone who supported this race, including parents, the teachers and students in each middle school who studied solar energy and energy efficiency to make cars that worked. Thanks to those who built and took down our fabulous racecourse and thanks to the many volunteers who served as registrars, judges, and inspectors the day of the race. Thanks also to Cape Light Compact and Vineyard Energy Project for funding this event, including the learning materials and equipment necessary for students to build the cars.
Specifically, we'd like to thank sixth-grade science teachers Lynn Gatchell and Alice Robinson of the Tisbury School, Leah Tofte-Dorr of Oak Bluffs School, Gale Meister of Edgartown School, Dan Johnson and Carol Petkus of West Tisbury School, and Anna Cotton of the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School and their students for building model solar cars and participating so enthusiastically in this event. Thanks also to Gino Mazzaferro for building the racecourse and to South Mountain Company for loaning the materials and disassembling the course when the race was finished. Thanks to Warren Doty and Jannette Vanderhoop for their classroom assistance, in addition to being judges for the race. And thanks to all other volunteers at the race: registrars Bonnie Alexander and Barbara Murphy, Pam Benjamin, inspectors Bart Smith, Chris Murphy, Sandy Alexander, Robbie Gatchell; judges Tom Durawa, Susan Wasserman, Stan Schonbrun, Nat Benjamin, Jon Harris, Ana Sargent, Isaac Taylor, Berta and Vernon Welch, George Hartman, Zee Gamson, Paul Karasik, Janet Weidner, Cameron Alexander, Susan Spence, Jaime, Tim Penicaud, and the flag man at the finish line, Skipper Manter.
We'd also like to thank the students and teachers who made the poster display in the Ag Hall possible. They are Anne Williamson, grade 3, Tisbury School; Jack Regan, grade 2-3, Chilmark School; Gary Smith, grade 5, Edgartown School; Pat Kelley and Sue Miller, grade 5, West Tisbury School; Anna Cotton, grade 5-6, Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School; and art teachers Kathleen Cameron, Chilmark School and Rhonda Hershey, Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School and their students. Volunteers who hung the display are Megan Sargent, Susan Spence, and Pam Benjamin.
It takes a village to hold an event! We appreciate everyone's generosity and commitment that made this event so successful.
County charter study
affected by school
To the Editor:
Martha's Vineyard voted last year to conduct a review of the Dukes County charter, which for an Island like Martha's Vineyard amounts to a review of our Island's governance.
Included in this effort has been a review of various forms of governance in both the public and private sector, since as an Island, our physical boundary acts economically as well as politically. This work has shown that cooperatives provide the best model
of governance, particularly at the local and regional level of government, and since the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts franchises cities and towns, it is a natural for Martha's Vineyard. Some work on the 100 Islands of comparable size throughout the world further confirms the role of cooperatives in achieving an economic and political balance of forces necessary for healthy Island life.
This brings me to the present situation on the Island, where the regional high school represents the foremost example of a cooperative the Island has achieved in its 400 years. The essence and foundation of a cooperative is that parties each contribute or invest in common cause or interest and share in benefits and expense. The present regional high school agreement is just such a cooperative, and one that Oak Bluffs has been party to for nearly a half century. Unfortunately, at their recent annual town meeting, the town of Oak Bluffs has decided to withdraw from what has been Martha's Vineyard's finest example of a cooperative. While this withdrawal is a disappointment to the other towns and residents of the Island, and I am sure to the children, Martha's Vineyard will continue on in its long tradition of coping.
The reasoning behind Oak Bluffs's decision to withdraw from the present cooperative amounts to an attempt to blackmail the other towns to pay expenses previously agreed to by the towns, originating in the 1950s. Unfortunately, in the regional school board meeting of April 24, 2007, school superintendent James Weiss recommended, and the school board concurred in a 4-3 vote, to abrogate the present agreement, after neither party attempted to gain the Commonwealth's acceptance of the existing agreement. I believe that as a condition of the superintendent's continued employment, he should get the Commonwealth's acceptance of present agreement, under grandfathered provisions predating the 1993 Education Reform Act, or a vote by Oak Bluffs to uphold their prior acceptance of the existing regional high school agreement.
Oak Bluffs has to understand that their withdrawal decision puts them on a "slippery slope" which could lead to their having to educate their high school students at some considerably greater expense than would be the case under the present regional high school agreement. I believe the other towns, residents and students of the Vineyard would welcome Oak Bluffs back into the agreement that has stood in good stead for near 50 years, and I'm certain most empathize with Oak Bluffs's situation, wishing you the best of luck in the future.
In this connection, I have written to Gov. Deval Patrick after receiving a copy of the response from Jeff Wulfson, associate commissioner of the Department of Education to the selectmen of Tisbury. The essence of Commissioner Wulfson's argument is that the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District has not been in compliance with Commonwealth ERA statute since 1993, and the DOE recognizes the transition from any past practice may create inequities in certain districts. This is certainly the case on Martha's Vineyard, and is creating a situation that severely impacts our ongoing County of Dukes County Charter Study Commission, authorized under Chapter 34 of MGL.
Representatives of the high school board have met with the DOE and ascertained a substantial level of uncertainty exists in fundamental data being used by the DOE in developing the allocation of the regional school budget to the towns for FY 2008. I suggest a reprieve for at least the upcoming fiscal year represents a reasonable compromise in light of continuing uncertainty in DOE's data. The impact of the state-mandated wealth and income statute on Martha's Vineyard would create differences in per-pupil cost across the Island of as much as 75 percent, which is virtually impossible to reconcile with a sense of equity, particularly when the high school budget far exceeds foundation levels.
Beyond the direct inequities associated with the high school budget allocation there is a major concern regarding our county charter review that for an Island has added dimension of "Island versus county", where the latter is a political boundary and the former a real physical boundary. Also, initial work of the charter commission shows a distinct advantage of a cooperative model of governance, which the existing high school agreement represents, and any action obviating a cooperative approach will put in jeopardy our charter commission efforts.
More honest kids
To the Editor:
I was on a trip to Noah's shelter in Hyannis with the Federated Church Youth Group. I would like to thank the Steamship and the two girls who found my belongings. I unfortunately misplaced my jacket on the boat, which contained my cell phone and wallet. I would especially like to thank the young girls for their honesty and turning my belongings in to purser Mike. The world needs more honest kids like this.
Acts of kindness now
To the Editor:
This is an attempt to keep an old Martha's Vineyard tradition alive. It is called "hanging May baskets."
Soon after the rebirth of spring and in the month of May, Vineyarders felt that it was time to hang May baskets. Following is how we did it about 80 years ago.
We would decorate a basket or a strong cardboard box with colorful crepe paper. In the basket we would wrap such things as homemade cookies, cakes, a small stuffed animal, candy, jewelry, scented candles, photographs, a book, a magazine, some chilled gift-wrapped littlenecks and a small bouquet of very fragrant Vineyard mayflowers.
After the basket was full, you would then decide if you should hang the May basket on or at the door of your best friend, a favorite teacher or some lonely person.
Finally you would sneak up to the door where you would hang the May basket and yell, "May basket, May basket!" Then you would run away as fast as possible and hide.
Your surprised friend would finally find you and invite you into their house. Then you would watch them unwrap their presents with Christmas-like glee and also share ice cream and cookies with them.
This May basket idea could be done in any month of the year with fewer presents in the crepe paper basket.
How about your decorating a basket some time soon with just cookies and two pieces of fruit in it?
Then knock on the person's door and go inside with the basket and deliver it to some lonely person. Their eyes will light up with joy and you will have a purring feeling in your body for many days. It certainly would be a Good Samaritan act.
Remember that we are here for only a short time in life's ride on the merry-go-round. Do acts of kindness now.
Robert H. Hughes
for the cycling season
To the Editor:
May is National Bicycle Month, Bike-to-Work Day is coming up on May 18, and more and more cyclists are emerging from winter hibernation. With the Vineyard's population continuing to grow and the Island's road system already near capacity, cycling and other alternative modes of transportation will by necessity continue to increase. Every cyclist means one less car on the road, and in addition to reducing motor vehicle traffic, cycling is cheaper, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than driving. It's also much more fun.
With cycling season upon us, we, the Bicycle and Pedestrian sub-committee of the Martha's Vineyard Joint Transportation Committee (JTC), offer a few reminders for Vineyard cyclists and motorists alike.
When riding on multi-use paths, use caution and be alert for vehicles crossing the path from side roads and driveways. Remember that pedestrians have the right of way, and cyclists must give audible warning when passing (e.g., "On your left").
When riding on the road, always ride with traffic and obey traffic laws. You always have the right to ride on the road, but by law cyclists must ride on the right side of the travel lane, use hand signals when turning or stopping, and ride single file.
Always wear a helmet. In Massachusetts, riders 16 and under must wear a helmet.
Headphones or "ear buds" are strongly discouraged.
Have proper lights and reflectors when riding after dark. It's the law.
Riding on sidewalks is permissible, except in downtown areas.
Cyclists have the right to ride in the roadway even when a multi-use path runs parallel to the road. Conditions on the path (e.g., crowds, debris) may make using the road preferable, especially for speedier riders.
Cyclists also have the right to be in the travel lane (i.e., left of the white line). Some cyclists may choose to keep to the shoulder, but debris and variable shoulder width make it typically safer to ride on the right side of the travel lane.
Please pass cyclists in the roadway with the customary Vineyard safety and courtesy. Allow plenty of room and pass cyclists only when you are sure there are no oncoming vehicles, especially on the Vineyard's many winding and narrow roads. Never honk your car horn at cyclists - it's dangerous, and they can hear you coming without it.
When exiting a side road or driveway and crossing a multi-use path, remember that cyclists (and pedestrians) always have the right of way.
Remember that cyclists are your family, friends, neighbors, clients, and customers.
For more information on bike safety, biking to work or school, or bicycle laws, visit www.massbike.org. The Vineyard's local bike shops can also provide you with information, as well as the proper gear, such as helmets and lights. For information on how to get involved with bicycle and pedestrian issues on the Vineyard, or for other cycling-related information, call or e-mail Jim Miller (JTC Coordinator) at 693-3453 ext 16 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Whitmon (JTC Bicycle and Pedestrian representative) at 693-4905 and email@example.com.
Ashley Hunter, Tisbury; Chris Fried, Tisbury; Craig Hockmeyer, Tisbury; Dan Greenbaum, Chilmark; David Whitmon, Oak Bluffs; Deborah Cini, West Tisbury; Ken Baum, Chilmark; Lee Sinai, Edgartown; Mimi Davisson, Oak Bluffs; Nancy Weaver, Tisbury; Ned Orleans, Tisbury; Stuart Fuller, Edgartown; Sam Feldman, Chilmark; Kathy Donegan, Tisbury; Nelson Smith, Edgartown; Margaret Curtain, Tisbury