Letters to the Editor
A real gem
To the Editor:
Two weeks ago I had the occasion to go to the Island Health Care clinic at the Triangle in Edgartown for the first time. I was so impressed with the quality of care provided at this relatively new clinic. An appointment was easily made within just a few days. All the staff were welcoming, cordial, and helpful. This is a terrific Island resource.
I was particularly impressed with the physician's assistant who I believe is the main provider of health care to clinic patients. Carol Anne Lindsey is a real gem. The care I received from Carol Anne was unhurried, thorough, warm, and very professional. She shared a great deal of useful medical information with me, thoroughly investigated my complaint, covering bases I had not thought of, provided effective treatment, and made sure I would follow up with my regular physician. In just one appointment, it was clear that Carol Anne is everything anyone could hope for in a primary care provider.
Thus, I was most dismayed to read in the very next issue of The Times of her imminent departure. We seem to have a history of losing many of our most trusted, competent, and appreciated health-care providers. I don't know why Carol Anne has decided she must leave, but I want to respectfully urge the management of the clinic to do everything in their power to convince her to stay. I would also urge others who have benefited from Carol Anne's compassionate and highly competent care to write letters to the papers encouraging the clinic to find a way to keep Carol Anne. We the community will be the losers if she departs.
Deborah J. Mayhew
To the Editor:
Your editorial last week, "Cheering news," details the benefits to the Island economy of a continued housing boom, particularly at the high end, 5,000 square feet and over. The boom, you say, keeps us "busy, and happily so." You note that the numbers are highest in Edgartown, which you characterize as the Vineyard's "largest and wealthiest town." You talk about Chilmark where, despite a building cap, rising valuations are "keeping the town treasury well-funded and the town tax rate low."
The reason for our prosperity, which is not limited to the wealthier towns, is, in your words, that "The Vineyard remains a prized summer home location for well-fixed members of the Boston-Washington corridor." On the mainland the building trades may be hurting, but not here. This is your cheering news, which makes our "Vineyard lives better, richer, and more promising."
In reading this editorial, what struck me, as a member of the Oak Bluffs finance committee, was that all these "well-fixed members of the Boston-Washington corridor," might be getting off too easy. By building their 5,000-plus-square-foot houses in towns with extremely low tax rates, they get a tax bargain. Meanwhile, the people who build those houses, who clean them, repair them, and protect them from vandalism, are very likely to live in Tisbury or Oak Bluffs where there is a remote possibility of finding housing they can afford - with great schools for their children, to boot. To maintain these schools, and other town services, Oak Bluffs taxpayers ante up at twice the rate of Edgartown taxpayers and four times the rate of Chilmark taxpayers. It doesn't seem fair.
None of these issues is clear-cut. There are no poor towns on Martha's Vineyard, poor in the sense of Holyoke or Lowell. Edgartown and Chilmark are indeed making gains in affordable housing. There are even trophy houses in Oak Bluffs. But, as your recent listing of housing evaluations by town made clear, some towns are considerably wealthier than others.
The disparities which come about when the need for services is scattered in one pattern, and the tax resources to pay for them are scattered in another pattern - these disparities are what create a sense of unfairness, particularly when you are trying to be an Island community.
Yes, having a booming economy may be "Cheering news." But if the "well-fixed members of the Boston-Washington corridor" get a tax break at the expense of the people of towns with higher tax rates, how cheering is that?
To the Editor:
My compliments go to the Martha's Vineyard Times and Doug Cabral for providing the inflatable fly fishing vest to Holly, the fisher with multiple sclerosis (MS), as part of your recent contest. May she go on to win many awards in this fishing derby and many more. As someone who was recently diagnosed with MS, I appreciated Nelson Sigelman's column for his portrayal of an MS person (I hate the word victim) as an active individual who is striving to continue to participate in her favorite sport. I, too, have bad balance, and often it is difficult to keep up with my gardening. However, after I made known my diagnosis, my friends and family stopped calling me clumsy and uncoordinated. In many people, MS often lies dormant for years before the disease is identified, usually after disturbing symptoms such as muscle weakness or numbness prompt one's doctor to order an MRI.
I thank The Martha's Vineyard Times for drawing attention to MS in (of all places) the fishing column. Hopefully, this will increase awareness and understanding of this condition.
Sewage endangers great pond
To the Editor:
Your recent article regarding the dredging of Edgartown Great Pond (EGP) pretty much says it all. Our Island ponds used to be opened to increase production of shellfish. Now, they are being opened for flushing like a giant toilet. In my opinion, a fool's errand.
Since 1996, the discussion of the plume leaving the Edgartown sewer plant and entering the EGP has waxed and waned. We have heard "there is no plume," "there is a plume." "The plume is there, but it is not harming the EGP."
I am here to tell you that the plume is alive and well and a key component to fixing the water quality of the Edgartown Great Pond.
What other known - not guessed, not estimated - single entity puts more than 100 million gallons of nitrogen-enriched water into the EGP annually?
Monies being collected for the dredge, a band-aid approach, would in the long run be better spent by getting the nitrogen from septic systems in the pond's watershed reduced. Nitrogen-reducing alternative systems, or better yet hooking up to the Edgartown sewer plant, would be a wiser investment. Shoveling, you know what, against the tide has never proved to be successful.
The town of Edgartown has what few towns in the Commonwealth have: a waste treatment facility that denitrifies. All the septic systems in the EGP watershed - Island Grove, Old Purchase, Meetinghouse Road, and the homes on the pond, to name just a few, could prevent 30-40 mg/liter nitrogen from entering the pond, by instead piping it into the plant where it would remove the nitrogen and eventually enter the pond at just 3-5 mg/liter. This is a huge reduction and a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, the powers that be are frittering away the remaining plant capacity by abandoning operable Title V systems in downtown Edgartown and beyond which are outside the Edgartown Great Pond watershed and pumping these contaminants into the watershed of the EGP.
In addition to all this avoidable nitrogen entering the plume from downtown and beyond, what is not being discussed is the septic pumpings from all over the Island, sludge from Oak Bluffs, and whatever else will turn a buck that is being trucked in and entering the plume.
Sure, we denitrify, but we don't remove a vast array of waste oils, chemicals, etc. from a waste stream such as this. These enter the plume and eventually find their way into the EGP. Dredging is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
The truth of all matters always bubbles to the surface. In this case we may not have long to wait. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has spent more than two years on a minor pond study which should be revealed any day, but with all the crap being trucked into this plume from outside the watershed, I fear the news won't be good.
Jay A. Guest
For the Edgartown Great Pond Preservation Trust
To the Editor:
Last week we were supposed to hear about a new direction in Iraq. I heard the same old mantra: give us more time. Four and a half years isn't long enough?
What is the goal in Iraq? What does Mr. Bush expect to gain from the occupation of a foreign country and a sacrifice of nearly 4,000 young American lives?
And now he wants to pass the buck to his successor.
I thought the buck was supposed to stop at the Oval Office. I'm counting the days.
On the economy,
reality ought to rule
To the Editor:
I'm writing in regard to the recent study done for the MVC about "leakages" to our local economy. I've also watched some of the MVC discussions about the economy, which seem to be carried on mostly by local retailers.
There appears to be some prejudice on the part of the no-value-added retailers toward the widespread practice of stocking up on consumer products by people while off-Island. An understandable prejudice, but nonetheless simply self-serving nonsense. The only reason to buy a product locally that is made and packaged off-Island is convenience. If one is off-Island for some other reason, then that one advantage that the local retailer is charging for is absent. An argument runs that the SSA is subsidizing this activity to the detriment of Island retailers via the Islander excursion program. So presumably the excursion program should be eliminated? Islanders of limited means won't be able to go off-Island in that case, resulting ultimately in less year-round families and still fewer year-round customers.
The economists who did the study pointed out some key areas that could be greatly expanded for opportunities to keep dollars on the Island. Some are clearly a good fit and very feasible, some not. Growing more local food is pretty inarguably something that we want more of. Locally grown food is not the same as imported food; it's better and fetches a better price, and as an industry it's not unduly impactful. The Land Bank could be a very important player in the future of food production on the Island.
Producing local electricity I'm not sure about. What are they talking about? A local generating station? Probably they mean dispersed and owner-funded alternative energy devices. That's been happening and is growing at a good pace. I don't know quite how it addresses economic leakage, unless it is in creating a few extra jobs for installers.
Manufacturing local biofuels. An original idea for the Vineyard, but it seems like a bit of a joke. This Island consumes more energy than could ever be provided by local bio-mass by many factors. And if it were to happen, it would be in direct competition for the same materials needed for organic fertilizer for the farming which is supposed to be increasing at the same time. Let's get a grip on reality. Far better to take the much-needed and relatively easy steps in conservation of current energy usage and keep the available bio-mass in the soil. Although lots of bio-mass is being wasted as sewage in septic systems and the town treatment plants. Turning those into methane cookers would be smart.
Cottage industry scale manufacturing. No argument there. Not likely to grow much faster than local food production, though, as it suffers similar restraints and difficulties.
Local procurement by government: Police cruisers? Fire trucks? Paper? Computers? Water towers? What could feasibly be locally produced here that local governments need to buy? Perhaps I'm too mentally inflexible, but I need help coming up with a single significant item.
The truth is that there is little local industry for a profound reason. Most people don't want it. It's the very reason many live here, and the reason most summer here. And yet nearly everyone wants to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. Hence massive importation and the so-called economic "leakage."
So many to thank
To the Editor:
To family, friends, and firemen offering support at the burial for our beloved Dennis, your expression of caring meant so much to us during this very painful time in our lives:
Thank you to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the Vineyard Nursing Association, Hospice, and for the numerous cards, many St. Jude donations, on-line guest book, caring messages, memorial service.
Special Thanks to Rev. Spinney of the First Baptist Church and Fr. Nagel of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church.
To the Editor:
At 6:35 this evening, Sept. 13, I opened a letter from the MV Coop Bank dated Aug. 31, announcing a meeting at 6 pm today of the "shareholders" (defined as depositors as of May 2007). I recall receiving the letter on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in West Tisbury. Had I been given adequate notice I might have attended and voted against the merger, on the grounds of reduced competition being generally bad for the consumer. I wonder if the bylaws of the Coop Bank and the general laws of Massachusetts require more than two days notice for such a meeting?
Louis F. de Geofroy
the hard work
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to thank the Tisbury DPW, selectmen, P&P Construction and the many others who have worked so hard to make our town so beautiful, with new sidewalks, curbs, ramps and other graceful designs that draw us to our downtown area.
I also want to thank them for their thoughtfulness toward those of us who need to have access for wheelchairs and ease of walking. What may seem inconsequential to many of us, is a matter of great importance to a few of us.
I personally spend a lot of time downtown, and I really appreciate the hard work and the changes that have made my travel in my wheelchair a lot safer and much more enjoyable.