Letters to the Editor
prefers the facts
To the Editor:
I would like to respond briefly to at least some of the inaccurate assertions made by State Representative Matthew C. Patrick, in his June 15, 2007 response to the editorial that appeared in May 25 edition of the Falmouth Enterprise regarding House Bill No. 3681, which would place the Steamship Authority in the Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) and add another member (designated by the Secretary of Transportation) to the SSA's Board.
Mr. Patrick professes that, in supporting this legislation, his 'overriding concern' is that 'the Steamship Authority stay financially viable.' But the undeniable fact is that the SSA already operates on a stable and positive financial footing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Indeed, this last year the SSA saw yet another positive annual change in net assets (otherwise known as net income) - this time more than $8,000,000 - and for the last 45 years it has never had to assess any of the communities it serves.
Mr. Patrick also takes issue with the SSA raising fares eight times since 1999, comparing it with the MBTA, which he notes has raised fares only three times during the same time period. What Mr. Patrick neglects to tell you, however, is that the MBTA's three fare increases resulted in a 94.4 percent compounded fare increase (MBTA's Official Statement, Senior Sales Tax Bonds, 2007 Series A-1 and 2007 Series A-2, dated April 26, 2007, at p. 8), while the SSA's eight fare increases have resulted in compounded passenger fare increases on its Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket routes of only 30 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, and a compounded high-speed passenger fare on its Nantucket route of only 26.1 percent. Moreover, even with its rate increases, the MBTA's system-related revenues only paid for 45 percent of its operating expenses (excluding debt service) in 2006. By comparison, the SSA's system-related revenues paid for all of its operating expenses each and every one of those nine years, including its debt service, and even added to the Authority's various reserve funds.
If a 94.4 percent fare increase over nine years while paying for only 45 percent of one's operating expenses (not including debt service) is how Mr. Patrick thinks the MBTA has benefited from the EOT's 'transportation expertise and accountability,' I certainly don't want it for the SSA. In fact, the EOT would be hard pressed to find anyone who could match the direct maritime and ferry transportation experience of the SSA's current management team, ably led by Falmouth's own Wayne Lamson. Under his leadership, the SSA's last five capital projects of $1 million or more (totaling almost $50 million in all) have in the aggregate come in at less than one percent over budget. If that is not accountability, I don't know what is.
And, contrary to Mr. Patrick's claim, the residents of Falmouth are not the ones who are most affected by higher fares - obviously the residents of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are, and not surprisingly they are unanimous against this bill because they see it for what it is. This legislation is not, as Mr. Patrick naïvely states, 'about creating a unified transportation system in the commonwealth.' The SSA already has a long history of working with the EOT and other public and private transportation entities to coordinate their respective transportation projects. Nor is it about 'oversight.' It is about adding yet another layer of politics and bureaucracy at the expense of the public.
Moreover, if anything, the SSA already has more oversight than it can handle. The first layer is each of its five board members and each of its seven port council members; the second layer is each of those members' appointing authorities (the selectmen, county commissioners, town council or mayor of the various communities served by the SSA); and the third layer is the public and the press who regularly attend the SSA's monthly meetings and let their complaints be known. Let us not forget the last time the SSA was comprehensively studied in 2001, when the governor's New Bedford, Cape and Islands Ferry Service Task Force unanimously found that the SSA has provided safe and reliable service to the islands without running a deficit and that overall the SSA has been responsibly run in the public interest. The Task Force ultimately concluded that it did 'not wish to tamper with a machine that is not broken,' and Mr. Patrick - for the sake of the people of Falmouth who depend so much on the SSA's stability - would be well served to heed this advice.
Unfortunately, Mr. Patrick seems determined not to let the facts get in the way of his opinions. Some time ago I spoke with him by telephone and offered to discuss the issues with him. His response was that he was not interested in the issues, because his constituency is the union. My constituency, however, is comprised of all the people of Falmouth, and that is why I am strongly opposed to this bad legislation.
Robert S. Marshall
Extinguish old stuff
To the Editor:
I look forward, every week, to the online version of The Times. I would like to offer one suggestion. If one of your columns has no new input, don't include it. For example, every week, I click on "On the Farm," and the last article submitted is dated Aug. 31, 2006. Hey, that's almost a year ago. For what seems like months, I clicked on "Weddings" and was presented with a photo of the same couple. Surely your expertise would enable you to blank out a column that has no new news. If not, okay. I still enjoy the online version and thank you for putting it out there.
Boca Raton, FL
Editor's Note: Thanks for the kind words, and for the suggestion. We'll get on it. DAC
To the Editor:
The Oxford dictionary defines a ghetto as "a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group." While I hope it was a careless misuse of words, I was horrified to read in last week's edition that Mimi Davisson of the Martha's Vineyard Commission referred to the Chilmark affordable housing project as a "little ghetto." This thoughtless and insulting comment is a slap in the face to the hardworking residents who keep this Island moving yet struggle to afford living here. To insinuate that this project will have any similarities to the slums of New York City or Los Angeles is ignorant and careless.
I would ask Ms. Davisson to find one Islander living in affordable housing who would describe their homes as a ghetto. Those who live in affordable housing help make up the backbone of the Vineyard and should be treated with the utmost respect. It is saddening to know that there are families struggling to live on our Island, and it is even worse to see them disrespected.
I would hope that this comment does not reflect Ms. Davisson's views on affordable housing and that she will quickly apologize to the community.
To the Editor:
In response to Phil Regan's letter of June 7, aptly titled "Play ball" in one Island newspaper, the issue at hand is not overall community support for the safety and well-being of our Little Leaguers. I fully support all efforts by Vineyard Baseball and the Park Commission to improve recreational facilities aimed specifically at enhancing safety, and I'm sure most Islanders will too.
The issue, however, is the specifics of the renovation plan - "the devil in the details" - and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood. The rumors mentioned in Mr. Regan's letter are but a small example of the uncertainty that has arisen from the proposal. If the absence of rumored items in the renovation plan, such as overhead lighting, PA systems, electronic scoreboards, and concessions stands means no authority has been granted to construct these items, then simply stating that would allay most concerns.
More significantly there is arguably a potential for measurable environmental impact on the neighborhood, the full extent of which has not been adequately reviewed, in my estimation. The consequences of altering the land to accommodate off-street parking, and the certain traffic issues that will ensue during peak game times, should be fully reviewed and addressed in the plan. There are also issues of sanitation and physical security when planning outdoor restrooms, enclosed dugouts, and picnic areas. This warrants concern, especially in light of the fact that Veira Park sits in an established residential area of the Cottage City District.
If adequate due diligence is performed on the planned renovation, to include a comprehensive review of the environmental impact on the neighborhood, then appropriate actions can be taken to prevent or mitigate undesirable consequences. The review process may wish to consider the legacy of Veira Park as a home to Martha's Vineyard Little Leaguers, but it should also weigh the potential benefits and risks of expanding facilities in a relatively confined residential area. The option to relocate to more open spaces should remain on the table. The one aspect of the plan that should never be compromised is the overall focus on the safety and well-being of Island children and their families.
No one should
To the Editor:
I would like to remind everyone that although the Food Pantry is closed for the summer, we are still available to meet emergency needs. We are also collecting food for distribution year-round. We need cans of tuna, meat, beans, vegetables, fruit, soup, ravioli, spaghetti, and condensed milk. We also need cold cereal, fruit juice, peanut butter and jelly, toilet paper, soap, and any other non-perishable basics. Non-breakable containers (cans and plastic) for liquids are preferred. Donations may be left in our collection boxes at all of the Vineyard markets and libraries. No one should have to go to bed hungry. Thank you for your contributions.
Vineyard Committee on Hunger
Wildlife in the road
To the Editor:
Traveling from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown on Beach Road one morning last week, I came across a young crow sitting in the road. The bird had apparently just fledged and couldn't yet fly and clearly didn't realize the road was a dangerous place. I knew this bird wouldn't make it without some intervention so I stopped to help the bird out of the road. The parent bird perched above on the telephone pole clearly announced it was her baby and told me hands off. Thank you to the folks in the car behind me who were very patient when they realized why my car was blocking the road.
Just a reminder to everyone who drives on this Island (including those that drive over-sand) to please slow down and obey the speed limits, especially this time of year when young critters of all types are out and about and not particularly savvy when it comes to cars. Do not assume they can move out of your way quickly. If they are following a parent across the road or in the case of birds, if they have just fledged and haven't gotten the flying thing down yet, they cannot react as quickly as adults. They have not yet learned to be wary of traffic and will do what we perceive as pretty stupid things. They venture out to explore just as we do as children. This often takes them into the road, so please be on the lookout!
Please also watch for any adult birds and animals crossing your car's path, year-round but especially this time of year. Killing an adult bird that has a nest can mean starvation for the young birds that depend on that parent bird for food.
Wild creatures face many natural hurdles in life. We can help them along the way by minimizing the manmade obstacles. If we are vigilant and show respect for our wildlife we will enjoy the pleasure of watching them in return, so please slow down.
Keep on shining
To the Editor:
I want to tell you about a special girl who watches over us and helps us along the way, a girl who made this world a cooler and more beautiful place to be, a girl who will always be in our hearts, a girl of the sea, an Island child.
Ivy Maris Marcella, you're a shooting star. Keep on shining.
Urges yes on trash
To the Editor:
Most every Vineyarder is familiar with the Martha's Vineyard Regional Refuse Disposal District (MVRRDD) site on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. If you haven't used it yourself to dump anything from worn-out appliances and tires to yard waste, your trash truck guy has. The MVRRDD has an opportunity to acquire a piece of adjacent land that would provide a buffer zone and allow additional and more intensive utilization of the existing site. It would create an opportunity for new uses, such as on-Island composting and recycling of construction materials.
Four MVRRDD member towns will need to approve funding for this purchase. West Tisbury already has. On this Thursday, June 28, at 7:30, Edgartown will hold a special town meeting to consider approval of Edgartown's share of the funding. This is almost surely a one-time opportunity to acquire this land. A yes vote will be the first step in helping to ensure that we plan wisely and provide for efficient, environmentally sound waste management on Martha's Vineyard.
Waste of money
To the Editor:
I was quite dismayed to see that the MV Refuse District was trying to get authority to waste more taxpayer money to acquire more residential land, allegedly containing rare "priority habitat" encroaching further into a supposed ecologically sensitive area that, allegedly, sits in the watershed of endangered great ponds. Other sites are available and should be considered much more thoroughly. We should not only recycle our waste products, but recycle our waste lands. This attempt should be turned away with a resounding no.
Essentially, the taxpayers of Aquinnah, West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Edgartown are being asked to foot the bill to expand the very poorly situated transfer station at the bottom of Airport Road along the Edgartown- West Tisbury Road. This is pure folly.
The proposed expanded waste handling site is encumbered with many ecological and practical issues. Why would we want to spend money to acquire more land there? This would only further industrialize what had been a quiet pastoral residential and agricultural neighborhood along Watcha Path. There are better alternatives that we already own.
The towns have land that already has been compromised, and it is already licensed as solid waste disposal site, namely, the former dumps. These sites are closed to land filling, but could be used for other purposes. Since they are already licensed, they would not need to go through the costly MEPA process, let alone dealing with the Massachusetts Aeronautics Board and the FAA on bird issues. These sites now are largely unused, but could be recycled for composting and other recycling programs. Why are we not doing that? Tisbury uses part of its former dump to operate its drop-off.
Previous writers in support of throwing money into this site have acknowledged that the land proposed to be acquired may contain rare "priority habitat" and would encroach further into a supposed ecologically sensitive area that, allegedly, sits in the watershed of endangered great ponds. Even the affordable housing proposal on almost abutting land off Watcha Path that would have placed the same number of bedrooms as were allowed as of right had to severely reduce its nitrogen to address the ecology and great pond questions, let alone the re-situating of several of the proposed buildings to stay away from the "priority habitat." Could we pick any more sensitive area? Come on.
But, these writers, including one surprisingly from the Vineyard Conservation Society, would have this large sum of money spent under the belief that some of this land would buffer adjacent land. Has the VCS completely lost its way? Would VCS have us industrialize some additional residential land with nitrogen-rich dumping and compost potentially leaching into great pond watersheds? What about upcoming proposed rules that will require hazardous waste handling to be routinely available at all solid waste handling sites? With all the mercury being distributed in the new compact fluorescent bulbs to all of the houses on the Island, it is incumbent on the waste handlers to provide safe and regular handling of these potential hazardous waste items as they burn out. How much mercury has been spilled already on the existing site in the great pond watershed and ecologically sensitive area while these bulbs are unwisely, but routinely simply thrown away in the regular trash and handled like normal household waste, spreading this toxic quicksilver all over the site?
As for the "buffer" argument, there already is a buffer of the land they want to acquire. It is now and three large home lots that are not too desirable given that they sit next to the transfer station, one of the Island's most industrialized sites with constant truck traffic and bucket loaders constantly screeching with back-up alarms, etc. Any development on the adjacent three lots they want to acquire would have to site for habitat just as the Refuse District would. There is no NET gain from this....only spending YOUR money to "trash" more residential land!!
Composting and other modes for recycling are good ideas. But that does not mean we should spend another $1.5 million to get there at the proposed expanded site. The existing site has additional space within it that is not being efficiently used. Moreover, the current transfer station site is under constant bird watch and sits right under the airport runway flight path. One bird strike and the whole station might be closed. What a colossal waste of money that would be!
While I am biased, in that I own house lot adjacent to the proposed expanded waste site, I think that everyone can agree that dropping a cool $1.5 mil on something we do not need when this money could be much better spent on other municipal projects...like funding the school system or re-building the West Tisbury Town Hall or renovating the old Edgartown School into other useful space.... is "Big Dig" mentality. Let's be the thrifty Yankees that we are and recycle our own "brownfields," the former dumps, and look at these for other uses, too.
Benjamin Hall Jr.
An 11-acre opportunity
To the Editor:
Imagine an opportunity to organically compost materials for use on the Island; an opportunity to collect clean reusable building materials for Islanders to simply pick up; an opportunity to expand our current M.V. Regional Refuse Disposal Facility.
Imagine reducing the exorbitant cost to transport, sort, and dispose of clean, reusable materials off-Island.
We have the opportunity to do this now; all without concern about traffic problems, disruption of neighboring residents, or space restrictions, which might limit our ability to manage refuse responsibly.
A rare opportunity presents itself now with the availability to purchase 11 acres of land abutting the Refuse Disposal Facility in Edgartown. Purchase of this land will allow for a larger buffer zone from the neighborhood as well as creating improved traffic flow on and around the property.
The ability to expand public property where and when it is needed seldom becomes available to a municipality.
I urge the voters in Edgartown, Chilmark, and Aquinnah to support the purchase of this land. This purchase represents support of our value of responsibility for the care of our Island and related other opportunities.
Vineyard Conservation Society
To the Editor:
New England's electric grid is a spider-web-like network of 350 power plants spread across six states, connected by 8,000 miles of transmission lines delivering electricity to 14 million residents via 6.5 million electricity meters.
On Jan. 15, ISO, the Independent System Operator based in Holyoke, Massachusetts, almost had to go to OP7 - Action in an Emergency - the last step in avoiding a system-wide catastrophe, "rolling blackouts." For a period of time, due to the cold snap, natural gas was only available for heat, not generating electricity. Gas-fired power plants that were ready to generate ten thousand megawatts of electricity reported they could serve the system if called up. According to engineer Matt Palmer, there was "no gas to be had for love or money." The pipeline system simply couldn't keep up with the demands of both heating and electrical generation.
During the 2004 cold snap, Cape Wind could have delivered 25,596 megawatt-hours of power at an average of 396 megawatts per hour.
According to the Energy Information Administration Massachusetts uses five fuels for generating electricity; coal, oil, natural gas, water and uranium (75 percent fossil, 18 percent hydroelectric and seven percent nuclear).
Massachusetts must add a sixth fuel to its mix, "offshore wind." Cape Wind's electricity can be generated for 9 cents per kilowatt hour without subsidies. I currently pay 11.652 cents per kilowatt hour. "Offshore wind" is cost-competitive and must be developed for generating carbon-free, long-term, low-cost electricity for the residents of Massachusetts.
About individual rights
To the Editor:
Thanks to Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Murray, House Speaker DeMasi, Senator Robert O'Leary, Rep. Eric Turkington and the People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Thank you for your diligence and hard work in defeating the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that would have written discrimination into law for so many of the citizens of our Commonwealth. The State of Massachusetts has once again demonstrated to our nation that the individual rights and freedoms of all of our citizens are what we value, and that equal justice for all is indeed more than words.
Rev. Robert E. Hensley
and SSgt. Michael W. Helgert, USAF (retired)
Grace Episcopal Church
Time and energy
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the office of the Dukes County Sheriff.
The Edgartown Class of 2007 would like to thank you for all of the time and energy you have spent with us this year at the ropes course. We truly appreciate it.
The Ropes Course taught us how to work together as a group. At the beginning ofthe year, we still needed to come together. The teamwork activities taught us that we haveto listen to each other's ideas in order to be able to problem-solve and become successfulas a class. We also learned to respect each other's differences. No one person's ideas arebetter than another's. This enabled us to open our eyes more and become inclusive as theclass of 2007.
We will always remember the life lessons we have learned:
Always take two more steps than you think you can, and feel good about what you have accomplished.
Look out for each other, and help one another.
Encourage one another to make positive and safe decisions.
We hope that you will continue to work with students in our community to alloweveryone to experience a day out at the Ropes Course. It is a memory we will alwaystreasure.
Class of 2007
The Edgartown School
To the Editor:
The eighth grade graduation ceremony at the Tisbury School on June 15 was a wonderful evening of celebration. Thank you Ms. Deloach and all the staff for all you do and for your outstanding commitment to making Tisbury School so exceptional.
Perry Joyce Howell
To the Editor:
Some people are feeling desperate to save their trees and are spraying for caterpillars. Last week I found five bees and two dragonflies dead or dying.
I made a call to the Mass Extension, and this is what they said: There are three main sprays. B.T. is the least harmful to the environment and will kill any caterpillar "good" or "bad," including butterflies and the beautiful moths we mistake as butterflies.
The second, Spinosad, once dry will kill only caterpillars but while wet will kill other insects. While being sprayed, all sprays can be blown to other areas. Flying insects that fly through the spray will die.
The third most powerful insecticide, Pyrethrin, will just plain kill all insects.
If you are an insect-phobe, please realize that insects are a huge part of the food chain. The entire dynamic of an ecosystem is weakened by the loss of its insects.
Birds, bats, wild and domestic animals and humans are all made sick by these sprays.
To the Editor:
For those who don't know, July 1 is the day that non-West Tisbury residents are going to go to Lambert's Cove beach via foot, pedal and bus. If you didn't know, the town of West Tisbury has policies against such a thing happening. It is time for people to come together and end this. It is time to end beach apartheid in West Tisbury. Call 508 221 8695 to join the fun.