Letters to the Editor
Unsafe for play
To the Editor:
Recreational soccer on Veterans' Field in Vineyard Haven behind Cumberland Farms has for years been a fun and safe experience for players of all ages. The success of youth teams and results of the adult Vineyard Football Association (VFA) have been well documented in The Times and well received by many Islanders. Unfortunately, Veterans' Field has become in past years a hazardous playing surface that has helped cause several serious injuries. Due to lack of proper maintenance, the field has become a liability to the town of Tisbury and a danger to the players that use it.
Hazards include large dirt patches and uneven grass in the middle of the field, large dirt pits in front of each goal, and hard turf throughout. These poor field conditions have contributed to several injuries, including a knee injury from July 10 that at press time had not been diagnosed. Two years ago, the field saw a torn knee ligament that ended a high school soccer career. Players consistently complain of open wounds from sliding on dirt and rocks. The field has also seen more than its share of foot and ankle problems due in part to the beaten turf. These conditions are particularly hazardous to the hundreds of young players that use the field every year. Running on hard turf can create more long-term problems for players under 18.
How can we be sure that the field has contributed to these injuries? Ask the players. VFA athletes include former high school, college, and professional soccer players who complain that Veterans' Field is the worst they have played on. Some soccer players on the Island say they don't join the VFA because of the field's condition. I am a soccer referee in Boston and have never worked on a field in worse condition than Vineyard Haven's. Also, I did not hear of one serious field-related injury in any of the two leagues I worked for in the last two seasons. Veteran's Field, on the other hand, usually sees one per year.
Why is the field in such bad shape? Poor and inconsistent maintenance. When was the last time the field was re-sodded or grass replanted? I don't know, but I do know that those dirt pits have been in front of the goals since I started playing on the field over 10 years ago. The Tisbury Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for the town's parks and needs to step up its regular maintenance of the field to make soccer in Vineyard Haven safe again.
Admittedly, maintenance on that field is not easy. It is used for three out of four seasons during the year, giving little time for a major facelift. But there are a few ways to work around the Island's demand for continuous soccer. The first is moving the large soccer field to the outfield of one of the two softball diamonds for one season to give time for grass to grow in the dirt patches. The outfields are not used during the spring and fall.
The town and local soccer leagues could also move games to a different location. There is vast open, unused space at the high school and many of the elementary schools on the Island. Why not move youth soccer games next spring to the West Tisbury School or the Oak Bluffs School to give the DPW time to clean up the field?
Another option is to re-orient the field: Rotate the field by 90 degrees every season so one half of the field gets a rest every three months. The last option is to expand the park complex to add another field. That would allow the soccer leagues to employ a field rotation system that many parks in Boston use to give fields time to recover from constant use. The DPW could squeeze in another field by clearing a few trees on the west end of the park.
Re-sodding a field and clearing trees is expensive. But shouldn't the safety of Island soccer players be a priority greater than reducing the bottom line? Let's see if next season the VFA can survive without tearing any ligaments.
New rules at the Dumptique
To the Editor:
Several volunteers from the West Tisbury Recycling Shed met recently with that town's board of health to discuss various problems that have arisen regarding the maintenance of that popular facility. Chief among them is the congestion of cars and people in front of the building that can and often does seriously impede the progress of people who are trying to empty their trash. The board frequently receives complaints about this matter and would like it resolved as soon as possible by establishing a few new rules that the volunteers who maintain the recycling shed will be expected to enforce.
The building stands on land belonging to the town of West Tisbury, and as such falls under the jurisdiction of the board of health, which supervises the entire landfill. Landfills throughout the Commonwealth are subject to periodic checks by inspectors from the state's Environmental Protection Agency, and violations are expected to be corrected whenever found. If we at the recycling shed want to keep providing this service to the community, we must conform to certain conditions.
To this end, we are establishing the following new regulations, effective immediately. Cars will not be allowed to stop in front of the building when leaving donations. Drivers must either turn right at the end of the building and park in the designated drop-off area or park across the roadway in the general parking area. None of the items deposited outside the building will be accepted; this applies particularly to electric and electronic items such as toaster ovens, microwaves, computers and TVs. Everything donated must fit under the roof overhang so that no clutter obstructs the roadway
And remember that the staff has to put everything inside the building at closing time and move them out again when we reopen. A good many of these things are heavy and awkward to deal with.
All children, especially young ones, must stay close to their parents. There have been several instances when a young child has run out into the roadway and nearly been struck by an oncoming vehicle.
Please help us enforce these simple rules so that we will not run the risk of being closed down. If infractions continue, this is a possibility. We who work there are often understaffed and overworked, particularly during the summer months. Don't bring us junk or filthy, unusable clothes that we will have to waste our time going through. Don't get aggravated when we turn down some of your donations. We don't make the rules, but we do try to comply with them.
Thank you for your cooperation and consideration.
Jackie Kennedy and West Falmouth Pink
To the Editor:
Several years before her husband became president, Jackie Kennedy drove from Hyannisport to Falmouth and stopped at an antique dealer's house next to the Palmer Avenue shuttle lot. Here she met the proprietor, Orville Garland. They were to become lifelong friends and early on, perhaps at that first encounter at his front door, Jackie inquired about the granite slab that served as a step. She learned that it was mined in West Falmouth and that in the trade it was known as West Falmouth Pink.
Orville Garland told Jackie of the 150-year history of the granite, that many of the local homes had walls, fireplaces, chimneys and foundations of the stone. And that it never strayed very far from where it was mined.
After her husband was assassinated Jackie asked Garland if he could find W. Falmouth pink for her husband's grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Secretly he did and even found a millstone fashioned from it that would serve as the base for the eternal flame.
The granite was mined, since the early 19th century, along a three-mile length of West Falmouth ridge that parallels the highway from Sippewissett to north of Thomas Landers Road. It was used extensively locally, from Cataumet to Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard. "A lot of it went to the Vineyard; Tisbury mostly," explains Billy Bourne, who is one of a few who still mine it, as did his grandfather and greatgrandfather.
So if the pink walls of West Falmouth have a historical legacy, it is in a large part due to Garland's fondness for the granite. His yard is adorned with every manifestation of the stone; Fishtail and tiger stripe grain to pure pink.
Orville Davenport Garland died this past December at 91.
To the Editor:
It was with interest and some puzzlement that I read the article in the June 28 issue of The Times regarding the comments of the new owners of the Harbor View Hotel. I was surprised to read that a sophisticated person (visitor) is one who would not blink at the cost of $950 nightly for luxury properties with all the amenities.
I was disabused of the notion that I had achieved some level of sophistication, due to my inability to spend $950 nightly for a hotel accommodation.
Now, as a member of the hoi polloi, I will retire to my humble cottage with indoor plumbing and a few other amenities.
So, here's to the sophisticated visitors to Edgartown with the big bucks. Enjoy your stay. Please.
To the Editor:
We live on Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs and cannot walk through the park without remarking about the truly magnificent job Crossland Landscaping has done in upgrading and maintaining the gardens. The floral selection is outstanding and the maintenance is superb. Thanks to them for their hard work and talent.
John and Sharon Kelly
Turn them in to
To the Editor:
I have noticed this season that more renters bordering Waban and Nashawena Parks in Oak Bluffs are draping beach towels over the front porch railings. This practice is not only tacky in appearance but demonstrates a lack of respect for the town's park commissioners. I doubt that these renters hang their clothes in the front yards of their suburban homes. I urge property owners to include in their rental agreements, as I do, a clause prohibiting the practice.
Joseph Sequeira Vera
Post no bills
To the Editor:
Notice to the public in Oak Bluffs: the corner of Wing Road and Spindle's Path dirt road is a private road, and the fence doesn't belong to the town, but to me. I paid for it and it isn't for your private use. Stop nailing your signs on it, or pay for it. It's private.
Turnover at Hospice
a matter of concern
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to Sofia Anthony, president, Hospice of Martha's Vineyard.
Over the past two years, for one reason and another, 100 percent of the clinical staff with long-time experience in end-of-life care has departed your agency: certified hospice nurses Cathy Brennan, Kathy Fitzgibbon, Katie Friedman, Cynthia Barletta, social worker Jean Hay, and me. This record turnover of Hospice staff should be of concern to the Island community.
As you know, Hospice of Martha's Vineyard is a rarity in the world of medical care-giving. Since the budget is derived completely from charitable fund-raising, not from government or insurance sources, clinical staff is able to provide patient and family-centered care in a most unique fashion. This was a founding principle of the agency and continues to be seen as a model of an ideal health delivery system.
The strength and quality of Vineyard Hospice services was built over years of team effort along with guidance from senior staff. Identifying clinical expertise as the cornerstone for managing the agency is an essential component for assuring future success and preserving the standard of care the community has come to rely on.
Boating safety needs more attention
To the Editor:
As Martha's Vineyard plunges into another busy tourist season, there seems to be a laissez-faire attitude towards boating safety, particularly with wearing life jackets. Today almost 73 million people call themselves recreational boaters in the U.S. Their experience ranges from those with hundreds or over thousands of hours right on down to the "weekend warriors" who typically are on the water for just a few hours a week for a relatively short season. This is particularly true here on Martha's Vineyard. Over the years we have had many drownings, some involving people that had been on the water all their lives. According to USCG statistics, many would have survived if they just chose to wear a life jacket.
Recreational boating has for some people become the "last frontier" in this country. Unsafe and just downright dangerous activity abounds. Many accidents involve alcohol, which has a built-in multiplier of three to four times in its effect on the water that the same consumption would have on dry land
US Coast Guard statistics cite that over 85 percent of the people that drowned from boating accidents were not wearing life jackets. In Massachusetts, only kids that are under the age of 12 are required to wear pfd's (life jackets) while the boat is underway. PWC (personal watercraft) operators and water skiers also have to wear them. All canoeists and kayakers are required to wear PFDs but just from Sept. 15 through May 15. The excuse for almost everyone else was that they were just too uncomfortable and hot. Other reasons were that people assume they would have plenty of time to put one on. Coast Guard statistics show that a boater has less than 30 seconds in which to react before they hit the water. Just not enough time to locate a life jacket and slip it on.
PFD technology has changed dramatically over the years with special lightweight products that will automatically inflate when you hit the water. Now there should be no excuse not to wear one. Most drownings have occurred when people hit a part of their body while falling into the water. People get knocked out or go into shock and possible cardiac arrest from an unexpected plunge, particularly in the cold Vineyard water. Most of these are preventable, and most often happen because boaters take extraordinary risks and don't really minimize their chances for a serious injury or fatality. It's kind of like trying to put your seat belt on while the motor vehicle accident is happening
The recent death of New England Patriots player Marquise Hill offers a lesson for boaters everywhere this summer. Hill was operating his personal watercraft at night and without a life jacket. He was in violation of state regulations, which make life jackets mandatory on PWCs. Also he was operating after sundown. He was considered to be a very strong swimmer in peak physical condition. However he hit his head on the watercraft and slipped underwater and drowned just minutes from rescue.
New boaters make their first mistake when they get on the water. They assume they don't need special training. According to USCG statistics, more than 40 percent of boat operators killed in US waters between 2001 and 2005 never received boater education. Typically only about 15-20 percent of the active boaters have had any classroom training in basic safety and rules of the road. This is particularly important here on Martha's Vineyard. Once a boater gets to Vineyard or Nantucket Sound, he is now in busy, multi-user waters with a whole set of safety equipment requirements and rules of the road. A boater can come in contact with just about any vessel ranging from a small canoe or kayak right up to some of the largest cruise ships and even a nuclear sub.
Working as a Certified Vessel Examiner with the USCG Auxiliary, I have inspected many boats on the Vineyard. The frightening part is that over 78 percent on average fail the basic safety equipment they need to have on board according to both Coast Guard and state regulations. You can check the requirements on line at www.safetyseal.net and also schedule an inspection by plugging in your zip code. This service is offered nationwide. It is free of charge and totally voluntary. Boats can be inspected up to 65 feet in length.
As an instructor with the USCG Auxiliary, and now privately on Martha's Vineyard for over 15 years, more than 1,200 kids and adults have successfully passed my basic classroom training. Hopefully in a small way I have helped make the waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard a safer place to be.
Boating safety experts recommend that all new boaters take at least a basic boating course taught by a qualified (NASBLA Certified) organization. Some marine insurance companies offer an incentive of 10-25 percent off premiums when these courses are completed
Forty-six states now have some form of mandatory classroom training for the younger kids. In Massachusetts you require a boating certificate between the ages of 12-15 and 16-17 for a personal watercraft. Currently there is a bill pending in the state legislature (HR2400) instituting mandatory classroom instruction for adults. Once this passes, Massachusetts will join nine other states that mandatory adult licensing requirements. Unfortunately, sometimes this legislation can get bogged down.
I have been told that the only way to get this passed here in Massachusetts would be to have a boating accident and serious injury or death involving a high-profile public figure or celebrity.
Here I am thinking, Martha's Vineyard, the middle of the summer, it is just a matter of time. Please be safe out there, wear your life jacket, and use common sense.