Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Rob Harris felt he needed to consult a "sound engineer" to determine if the roosters in his neighbor's yard were exceeding the decibel requirements. Well, I'm glad he gave me the idea, because when I lived in West Tisbury I should have consulted a sound engineer for the noise of the airplanes that flew directly over my house every three minutes per day during the summer. I imagine that would have exceeded the allowable decibels.
And I also learned from Mr. Harris about nose thumbing: accordingly, the next time someone thumbs their nose at me, I will seek the advice of a nose thumbing consultant to determine just how offensive the action really was.
In fact, now that I think about it, I believe the Steamship Authority is excessively expensive: perhaps I should find an expense engineer to determine just how deep the SSA digs into people's wallets, or even just for living here on this Island, for that matter.
But, it's not just that the prices of real estate or grocery stores are high; why, it just occurred to me that all that food at our grocery stores has to come from somewhere. Do people really grow all those vegetables they sell in the produce section? Doesn't that require, hmm, I think it's called land. And, heaven forbid, do people really raise all the animals that turn into our meat? You mean those are real animals - cows, turkeys, and chickens - that feed our families? That sounds really rural to me. But thank goodness, it's Not In My Back Yard.
Actually, I'm much more of an IMBY person: I grow vegetables in my back yard, I have a dog who lays around in my back yard, chickens who peck in my back yard, and two energetic kids who hoot and holler in my back yard, and I salute those other IMBY people around the world and on the Vineyard who raise, sustain, and nurture life in their back yards with respect for and a deep connection with their communities.
To the Editor:
I had some friends visiting the Island last week, retired couple, grandparents and lifelong cyclists. They had parked their car near the Bourne Rotary, and for 10 days they set out to tour Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, on their custom-built, carbon fiber, very fast tandem bicycle. They rode the less traveled beautiful roads along Buzzards Bay as they made their way to Woods Hole where they caught the ferry for the Island. They stayed in a hotel in Vineyard Haven and spent five days riding the Island roads.
They will not ride on bike paths such as we have here, because of the poor design and increased inherent danger of these paths compared to the road. Thus, they stayed on the road where they belonged and obeyed all the traffic laws. Since Monday they have been honked at, gestured at, had motorists swerve at them and were a number of times screamed at to "Get on the (expletive) bike path" or "Get off the (expletive) road." My 12-year-old daughter and I rode to Aquinnah on our tandem with them, and on the lightly trafficked Menemsha Crossroad were screamed at to "Get the (expletive) off the road."
These are people who had chosen to visit Martha's Vineyard for a week, to infuse their money into the Island economy and leave their car behind.
I am ashamed at the behavior of the ignorant motorists they encountered here but not surprised.
My daughters and I rode into Edgartown on the Beach Road path yesterday, and it was a madhouse. The path is a very narrow, dangerous, deteriorating, crumbling mess.
To accommodate the bicycle and pedestrian traffic we get this time of the year, that path needs to be at least twice as wide as it is now. Considering the speed limit on the road is 25 mph, it's safer and faster for cyclists to stay on the road. Another cyclist, who was commuting home from work yesterday on her bike chose to take the road after encountering multiple families and lots of children blocking the path. A white-haired, elderly man vehemently screamed at her from his car, "Bike path, now!" Other than being in the wrong, I wonder who he thinks he is? I know what he sounds like.
August of 2005, my then 12-year-old daughter and I took the ferry to Woods Hole and rode our tandem to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod and back, a meandering 234 miles in five days. It was a wonderful trip. I would say at least 180 miles of which were on the roads shared with the August motoring public.
What was so striking to me, other than the beauty of Cape Cod, is that not once were we honked at, screamed at, gestured at, cursed at or had motorists pull some dangerous stunt with their cars to try to scare and intimidate us, because we choose to ride a bicycle and rode upon a public thoroughfare. Behaviors which for some reason are all too common, a daily occurrence on Martha's Vineyard.
It was so striking that I called each municipality on the Cape to find out what they were doing differently than the municipalities on Martha's Vineyard.
Each and everyone said that they did not tolerate the conduct of motorists such as we have here on Martha's Vineyard and that their behavior is indeed dangerous and illegal. For many years they have worked hard to get the word out, to educate everyone that these paths are an option for cyclists and that cyclists are roadway users too. Riding on these paths is in no way mandatory, regardless what the less knowledgeable but the all to vocal minor segment of the motoring public may think.
Every public road on Martha's Vineyard is open and available for cyclists to ride upon and the bike paths are but an option for cyclists who want to use them.
When my daughters and I got back into Oak Bluffs yesterday afternoon, traffic was a snarled, gridlocked mess. Such a detrimental impact the motor vehicle is having on this little Island in oh so many ways.
Why are there so many angry motorists on Martha's Vineyard? Could it be the self-imposed vehicular gridlock that they so willingly subject themselves to?
There are better choices.
To the Editor:
The older bike paths in the State Forest are in sad need of repair. Five-inch potholes, three-inch cracks every 20 feet, some less. This poses a danger to all who use them and damage to bikes, not to mention an unpleasant ride. If anyone knows how to get this corrected, we would all be grateful.
To the Editor:
As a retiree on the Vineyard for 20 years now, I have enjoyed meals regularly off-season in the restaurants that kindly remain open, even January through March. Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are favored locations, and without having to fly, we occasionally journey to Plane View, though Ocean View is more convenient.
I must say it seems entirely reasonable to me that those who decide they need three or more months of not coping with a possible shortage of patrons, should accept some penalty for that determination. I seriously doubt Edgartown selectmen are eager for fewer December lights, as they seek fair restaurant financial tactics.
Plenty of helpers
To the Editor:
I've never written a letter to a paper before, but never before have had I to thank so many strangers. I had a bike accident on Saturday. I took a bit of a tumble on the bike path near Oyster Watcha. Upon discovering my bike would no longer go with ease, I was at the mercy of strangers.
Everyone knew who I was, asking if I was any relation to my father or my mother. Ex co-workers, students and parents of students littered my path from the side of Edgartown road to the five stitches and four x-rays I had done. I learned almost no one's name.
So thank you, to the man from Boston, who picked me and my groceries up and for delivering us into the hands of the West Tisbury police. Thank you, police lady for talking to me for ages, and trying to get permission to take me to the hospital. Thank you to the ambulance men, for my sponges and my icepack. Thank you to my neighbor Jenn, who came and got me from the police station and took me to the hospital. Thank you for the triage nurse who offered to let me call my mum and dad. Thank you to the doctor for sewing up my face, and thank you to the lady who cleaned my knee while trying not to hurt my patella (I still don't know what it is, but it hurt). Thank you to the bloke who got me a warm blanket while I was waiting for my x-rays. Thank you to the x-ray guy for smiling at my jokes, which I don't think he found funny.
But again thank you everyone for making my first stitches into an experience that I can't call pleasant but more than bearable.
To the Editor:
Sengekontacket is the canary in the mineshaft for the Vineyard. Few of the various pond groups and conservation groups that make up the Martha's Vineyard Water Alliance were surprised by the recent closing to summer shellfishing. Now we must re-double our efforts to protect our local waters and stop the decline evident in all of our ponds.
Like Friends of Sengekontacket, Tisbury Waterways Inc. has been working on storm-water, wastewater and circulation issues in our town's harbor, Lake Tashmoo, and the Lagoon.
Here's what we know: Of the 19.2 sq. mi. in and bordering on the shores of Tisbury, 12.6 sq. mi. is water. Similarly, of the 350.8 sq. mi. that comprise the Island and the inshore waters under local town control, 260.3 sq. mi. are water (from "Profiles of Massachusetts" data describing Dukes County). We also know that it is human activities including Title V septic systems, road run-off, and garden and lawn fertilizers that contribute the bulk of the pollution to our waters. Individually, we can and should mitigate some of this right now by taking seriously the suggestions made in the Island Blue Pages. If you don't have your free copy, contact the MV Shellfish Group or the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
Islanders count on their public officials to study, prioritize, and set directions for our collective efforts. We recognize in Tisbury that our Board of Health has begun to implement its wastewater management program including mandatory inspections of on-site septic systems. It has already ordered up-grades to Title V in targeted sensitive areas. These up-grades are long overdue and we urge the Board of Health to continue to make these inspections a high priority. However, it must be noted that the Boards of Health are following strict State guidelines and are ONLY concerned with threats to human beings in the waters. The standards for humans are much more lenient than those for shellfish. Who is going to go to bat for the shellfish and other marine life when there are so many needs and wants in our town budgets? It is suggested here that it should be each and every one of us.
A major way to begin is to support getting all of our ponds into the Massachusetts Estuaries Program (MEP). The first results for the Vineyard are now being issued and more are due out by the end of the year. It comes as no surprise that good water circulation is a pre-requisite for a healthy pond. Thus, it is likely that more dredging projects will be proposed as a partial solution. We need to support these projects too.
We know that healthy waters are a requirement for shellfish to grow and fish to spawn - and that when shellfish grow, they help keep the waters healthy. Imagine if you were a farmer and about 75 percent of your land was unfit for use? Are we Islanders going to sit by while 75 percent of our landmass - the part covered by water - becomes unproductive? I urge islanders to recognize the importance to our culture and economic well being of healthy waters and to make sure your public officials know the depth of your feelings.
for the Board of
Tisbury Waterways Inc.
Lots of support
To the Editor:
This past week, the Tisbury School received unofficial word that we are again eligible for the Rural Education Achievement Grant (REAP), which the other Island schools are receiving. This would not have happened without the exceptional follow-through of several individuals and one special group.
The Tisbury School Advisory Council supported the school's efforts to continue trying to get someone to help us, even after we had been told that there was no hope.
Jim Norton, a long-time school advisory committee member and supporter of the Tisbury School, crafted the letter to Congressman William Delahunt's office requesting that they help us gain the ear of the USDOE (United State Department of Education) Secretary of Education in re-gaining eligibility for the grant.
Rachel Rohr wrote a timely and well-researched article about the REAP grant, which we enclosed with the letter to Congressman Delahunt's office.
Rory Sheehan in Congressman Delahunt's office did all of the communicating and legwork with the USDOE, and he is to be especially commended for helping resolve our problem of eligibility and helping us become re-instated as a grant recipient. He also updated me frequently and clearly about the status of the grant. It was a pleasure working with him.
Finally, Micaelah Morrill from Senator O'Leary's office helped us to determine that we do meet the state's definition for a "rural school" although we didn't meet the federal definition. This was the determining factor in our being found eligible for the grant. Also, when we requested letters of support from our local representative and senator, she arranged for those letters to be sent. Previous to this, although we had sent letters requesting help from O'Leary's and Turkington's offices, we had not received any acknowledgement and so we truly appreciated Micaelah's follow-though and concern after we contacted the office a second time.
All of these people played a supportive role in this happy ending, and they have shown us that persistence and follow-through from concerned people can make government work for us, even with a complex situation. Thanks to everyone who helped our school in this effort.
To the Editor:
Camp Jabberwocky really does rock. Many thanks to Charlie (David) and Company, for an incredible night of entertainment. Just when I thought you guys couldn't get any better, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory proved me wrong. Congrats on a great show.
To the Editor:
Times of grand Vineyard Cup gig rowing races, rivalry, camaraderie, food and fun were had on Vineyard Haven waters during the Seafaring Festival in early July. Special thanks to all participating 42 RowMV members of SailMV, whose athleticism, sportsmanship, and hosting spirit welcomed 82 mainlanders, rowing in teams from Gloucester, Fairhaven, Plymouth and Belfast, Maine.
Special, special thanks to Phil Hale and Tony DeLorenzo of Martha's Vineyard Shipyard; harbormaster Jay Wilbur; McDougall's in Falmouth; race committee Matt Cramer, Ross Gannon, and Sterling Wall; Mocha Mott's Meredith Gallo; Alycelee Pigman, Alice Goyart, Nestle Water's Ellie O'Keefe, Wendy Gray, Susan Austin, Jean Llewellyn, Bruce Riseborough, Doug Reece, Tim Winchell, Jeff and Jynell Kristal, Carol Gannon Salguero; and president Peggy Schwier and Hope and Brock Callen of Sail MV.
Vineyarders, you have seen us out rowing in Vineyard Haven Harbor. Join the fun, call 508-696-7644, and come row.
To the Editor:
The Island community recently reacted strongly to the case of the teenage girl in Tisbury who was told that she must give up possession of her pet rooster. We, the trustees of the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, feel that this episode is only the tip of the iceberg; the larger issue being town or subdivision regulations that discourage or prohibit agricultural activities that are highly valued by Island people.
The ability to use our backyards for gardens, compost, a home flock of hens, or a couple of pigs is part of our traditional way of life and runs deep in our Island culture. One of our current farmers got his start in poultry by acquiring one henhouse from behind what is now the Co-operative Bank and the other from behind what is now the branch of the Edgartown National Bank. Well-managed small agricultural enterprises, even if they are visible and audible to their neighbors, are not considered by most Vineyarders, in our opinion, to be a problem. In many cases people consider their lives enhanced by the bleating of sheep, the sight of cows in a pasture, the daily rhythm of neighbors tending their animals, and even the crowing of a rooster.
We suggest that the planning board review the zoning regulations to see if there are regulations that inhibit these agricultural activities, and when possible change them to conform to our Island culture, not a suburban value designed to sterilize property values for investors. Boards may also have the opportunity to discourage developers from putting such restrictions into their covenants. The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society stands ready to assist in such a review or to serve as a resource as appropriate.
This is an exciting time for agriculture, as there is a fast-growing, popular demand for locally produced food, free of the detrimental effects of long-distance travel and mass production. Our fall and spring potluck suppers are enthusiastically based on Island-grown food. Backyard and small scale farming may contribute much more to our food supply in the next 20 years than it has in the last 20. We believe that this should be encouraged for the well-being of all of us.
Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society
Chapter 40B misuse
To the Editor:
This letter continues the saga of an 1,100-square-foot home being shoehorned into an approximately 6,500-square-foot lot under the guise of Section 40B, in Vineyard Haven, an already substandard residential neighborhood. The minimum for Vineyard Haven is 10,000 square feet.
On May 25, this project was approved by the Vineyard Haven zoning board with a list of conditions to be complied with in order for the project to begin. Without getting into lengthy and wordy detail, as I could quote the conditions listed, there were several points directing the project with regard to compliance before commencement of construction. Basically, the conditions outlined specific requirements of the building project to be recorded and presented to officials governing the county, as well as the town, before Habitat could apply for the building permit to begin the project. These conditions were not met. Trees have been cut down, very mature rhododendrons were uprooted and replanted while in bloom, the proposed basement has been dug out, footing for the foundation has been poured with stakes for the forms placed, and forms were going up as of early Thursday morning, July 19. All of this happened before any of the conditions directed by the zoning board were met and the application for building had been submitted. That morning around 8 am, I asked the general contractor to present the building permit, as I am the abutting neighbor. His remark was, "Zoning approved this project for Habitat, and we can do whatever we want." I then explained, he could not, and from there, I was yelled at, and treated horribly in a verbal manner, while he stood on my property. I then placed several calls to the building department, whose staff were very gracious with me, and I apprised them of the situation. A meeting was scheduled for Friday, the next morning, at 11 am to determine the compliance of the project. At the Friday morning meeting, I was shown an application to build that was applied for by Habitat at 11:30 am, the day before, which was hours after my confrontation with the general contractor, who was standing up forms for a foundation.
Now, Habitat for Humanity is directing this project. I had a petition with 17 local neighbors protesting this site due to inappropriate location, and less than required local zoning for a one-family dwelling. At the zoning meeting when all of this was approved, I asked the board members if they had any true knowledge and literature surrounding Section 40 B. They did not. I asked they not make a decision until gathering more information concerning 40B. They did not. Now, I could be wrong, but, from my research, Section 40B is for multiple-unit housing that meets all zoning requirements, whereby 20-25 percent of the units have long term affordability restrictions. The goal is for communities to provide a minimum of 10 percent of their housing inventory as affordable. This does not apply to individual homes being granted to those who, on Martha's Vineyard, cannot afford one. If that be the case, we'd be building on every available space. I believe contractors and developers have bulldozed town officials into believing they had to concede all because of 40B. For all town officials who can operate a computer, I encourage you to check out www.chapa.org.40b_fact.html.
I also question the criteria of the recipient of this project. My sources reveal an off-Islander, from Connecticut, having been here approximately four years. I have generational Islander neighbors whose grown children, with their children live in the same house for not being able to afford a home of their own. I also know generational Islanders who meet the income criteria and have been denied by zoning to construct a minimal house when they were marginally under the required 10,000 square feet, forcing them to purchase abutting land from a neighbor to comply. What is wrong with this picture?
Already Habitat is setting a negative precedent for manipulating development building toward parcel chopping for single homes. If people cannot afford a home here, perhaps that is a sign for change. It is not cause to take a multiple unit application for affordable housing and apply it to single family dwellings on non conforming lots. Not only is it insulting to hard-working Islanders, but in my opinion, unethical whereby lacking integrity in the building world, to include the regulatory boards approving these projects. My last issue is the extreme rudeness and verbal abuse I have endured from this development under the direction of Habitat for Humanity; nothing short of inhumane.
Home free on the range
To the Editor:
What is going on here?
People move here because they value the beauty of our Island and way of life, and proceed to criticize and attempt to control.
Residents love buying Island produce and eggs and using the farms to entertain their children who are able to see and enjoy animals, ride on tractors, etc. They move near farms and complain about roosters. Yes, hens to lay more and better eggs when they can free range. Do these complainers want these eggs? They sure do.
Roosters protect the hens when raccoons or skunks go near the coops. They also help to fertilize eggs.
I lived in New York City for 18 years, and when ambulances, fire engine, etc. annoyed my guests they wore earplugs and slept peacefully. Drugstores sell these useful things. Get them and stop your noise.
To the Editor:
First of all, I would like to thank Steven Carreiro for having the courage to disclose the dirty little secret that has been known to us in the trades and service industry for years (responding to "Employers scam immigration system"). This is a nonpartisan issue that hurts American workers and their families, many working multiple jobs just to earn a living wage here. There is a growing grassroots movement to take back our country from those unscrupulous businesses addicted to cheap labor and the politicians who disrespect the will of the people to enforce the laws that protect us. For anyone interested, there are several organizations with web sites that are making significant progress, including NumbersUSA.com, Federation for American Immigration Reform (fairus.org), Americans for Legal Immigration (alipac.us), Grassfire.org, and IllegalEmployers.com.
A boost for the
To the Editor:
Beatlemania Now will be coming to The Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. This will be a fabulous benefit for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Minnesingers. The Vineyard Community has been so generous in their support of this talented group of musicians over the past 40 years. From the local businesses, to the newspapers, to countless local organizations who have made it possible for our sons and daughters to carry on this tradition of The Minnesingers, we salute all of you.
Funds raised will benefit the Minnesingers' trip to Europe in Spring 2008, where they will perform for audiences and live with a family for a week and have a cultural exchange. A special thank you to the Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association and their program committee, led by Doug Thompson, for advocating for Island students interested in the performing arts.
To the Editor:
Yesterday, on my way out to the Gut and just past the elbow of Cape Pogue Bay, I was stopped dead in my tracks by what seemed to be a sand castle near the water's edge. Obviously, it was left by one of the many children who come to play and swim during the hot days of summer on the Vineyard. However, on closer observation I was in awe of what took place on this desolate stretch of beach known as Cape Pogue. Not only did I discover the remnants of a child's play that day, but an amazing sand castle, by far the most beautiful I have ever seen. Out of this child's creativity, imagination, and ingenuity came an architectural wonder that was destined only to be washed away with the next incoming tide during the same day it was built. Endless hours must have been spent with close attention to every minor detail imaginable. There were numerous turrets, a staircase leading up to the castle, a drawbridge, and a moat made of seaweed as well as trees meticulously made of sand granules and sprayed green to show their foliage. A gull's feather served as a mast and flag, while colorful small stones and seashells were placed as jewels to enhance the castle's beauty.
The whole thing brought me decades back to my Disney days, when I would read, dream of, and envelop myself with the wonders of knights on horseback during the days of King Arthur and Robin Hood.
Hopefully, a gifted child has emerged from that warm day in July to one day become a truly gifted architect and leave our world with something more permanent for everyone to enjoy for years to come.