Letters to the Editor
Support the Home Port purchase
To the Editor:
Please consider supporting the purchase of the Home Port by the town of Chilmark.
So much could be accomplished with public ownership of this relatively small piece of land. The spectacular vista across the Menemsha Creek channel to the dunes and moors beyond would be opened and protected forever.
This spot is very different from our three popular beaches. It would provide needed public water access for kayaks and small boats, currently available only at Hariph's Creek. Its design could incorporate deck/seating areas reminiscent of the Home Port, with an enhanced panoramic view of the Coast Guard Station, the Pond, coastal banks and hillside homes beyond. Access wouldn't present the physical challenge, which Lucy Vincent Beach does for some folks.
Chilmark selectmen note the importance of retaining these parking spaces. A residential buyer would presumably delete all public parking and perhaps obscure the vista yet more. A new restaurant? The separate sale of the "dock lot" to an individual deletes employee parking spaces. A 2005 town committee concluded that "at night during the summer, the Home Port is Menemsha's single greatest generator of traffic."
The $2 million price (if paid by the town in full) would cost at most $63/year per assessed million in the first year, decreasing each year to $36/year in the final 20th year - an average annual tax cost of $50/assessed million.
Prior to the 2005 vote, $250,000 was pledged by individual donors, to reduce the $3.9 million cost to the town.
We invite you to support this purchase in several ways:
Think about the possibilities and encourage others to do the same. Join us in publicly supporting the plan.
Send a tax deductible pledge to support the purchase, contingent on town meeting approval, to Melanie Becker (Chilmark town treasurer), PO Box 119, Chilmark - the sooner the better, so the word gets out that the cost to taxpayers is going down.
Pick up some pledge cards (from one of the undersigned), invite others to contribute to help make this happen, and mail or deliver their pledges to town hall yourself.
Most importantly, if you see this as a valuable opportunity for the community, come to the special town meeting on September 22 and be a part of a two-thirds vote for the park.
Frances and David Flanders
Lenny Jason, Jr.
Judy G. and Edward E. Mayhew Jr.
Helen Schwiesow Parker
Here's the bus
To the Editor:
I endorse Ken Lay's comments on both the reliability and usability of public transportation. His question of "Where is the bus?" reminded me of a service I saw in a recent visit to Melbourne, Australia. Each stop of the extensive streetcar system - trams to the locals - has a designated and displayed four-digit number. With that number you can find the expected time of arrival of the next streetcar by either phone, SMS (text messaging) or on a website. It is implemented through real-time tracking of the whereabouts of all of the system's trams. In addition, commuter stations have an electronic count-down to the arrival of the next train. These contribute to a quite user-friendly system. A description of the tracking system can be found at yarratrams.com.au.
On a more local note, I have observed the VTA drivers calling each other to synchronize the transfer of passengers at crossing routes. I don't know whether this is a formal service of the VTA or it is an indigenous service created by enterprising drivers. Either way, it is it is one more way to answer the question "Where is the bus?"
To the Editor:
I was heartened by the Tisbury community's response to the Café Moxie fire earlier in the summer, but at the same time I wondered why a similar sense of community support and concern could not be roused around some of the construction projects which have changed the town's environment in recent years.
As a direct neighbor of the new monster mansion that was constructed across from the West Chop meadow, I have been surprised to hear many of our neighbors, friends and even complete strangers express everything from sympathy to outrage that this structure could have been approved for construction. The reported 22,000 square feet of living space on less than four acres of land is the equivalent of having a Walmart built in your backyard, but amazingly in the three years that the project was underway few restrictions or adjustments were required.
In the last decade the uber-rich have found the Vineyard and the resulting changes threaten to alter the character of the Island forever. The O'Connell helicopter crash just outside the Vineyard Haven harbor earlier in the summer is another example of the "neighbors and community be damned" attitude. Mr. O'Connell apparently ignored the Edgartown zoning officer's ruling that the property could not be used to land a helicopter and Mr. O'Connell's successful lawsuit to defeat lower income housing near his property based in part on protection of a rare moth species - was apparently a frivolous exercise to protect his right to land a helicopter despite the zoning ruling. If those with enough money to do what they want continue to push over town officials and ignore or stretch to the limit existing regulation the results will be devastating.
Despite economic downturns and real estate busts, the popularity of the Island remains strong and the place that many of us call home, even if it is only for at least a few months in the summer, has become a destination of those who care little for the integrity of what makes Martha's Vineyard special to begin with. Before the island becomes more Long Island and less Cape and Islands perhaps it is time to review the zoning and construction regulations that should be in place to protect our communities and homes from being exploited by those who are more focused on their own slice of heaven than the island environment which we all know and love.
Hiding behind noble goals
To the Editor:
I suspect that many of your readers perceive the Bradley Square project as just another version of a classic Island tale: a non-profit organization wants to build much-needed affordable housing and is opposed by disgruntled abutters and neighbors who fear that bringing in "these people" will disfigure the neighborhood and affect property values. WRONG!
In this case, the long-time residents of Dukes County Ave and surroundings are the ones being stigmatized, and affordable housing is used to mask the true objective of the project: pave the way for the conversion of the neighborhood into Oak Bluffs's future tourist destination.
As selectman Ron DiOrio clearly explained on Plum TV last January, the first floor "live/work artist studios" of Bradley Square are intended to complement the "already thriving Arts District" to create a critical mass of art‐related businesses that will be used to attract more art-related private investments throughout Dukes County Ave. In addition, the proposed function hall and green space will become the theater of "many exciting events," while sidewalks (to be added by the town) will transform the area into a pleasant strolling experience.
Sounds like a brilliant idea! After all, doesn't art attract tourism and isn't tourism the economic bedrock of this island? No doubt, but let me remind your readers that the "Arts District" is a self-proclaimed entity in the hands of a few shop owners, and that as far as I recall, this plan has never been the object of a town meeting or vote. Note also that during his interview, Ron DiOrio not even once mentions the neighborhood's residents, thereby adding credit to their claims that they've been deliberately excluded and are considered a nuisance to the project.
The question is not whether art and tourism is good for Oak Bluffs, but whether the profound and irreversible change of an entire neighborhood should be left to the sole discretion of one selectman and a handful of (interested) individuals. I don't think so, considering how far-reaching the consequences of splitting up a commercial district can be. Judging from similar situations in Edgartown (the Triangle) and Vineyard Haven (upper State Road), an additional "tourist destination" in Oak Bluffs would undoubtedly impact Circuit Ave businesses and affect the town's traffic and parking patterns. Sneaking this in bit by bit under various pretenses and using a "let's get this started and see what happens" approach is irresponsible; such an ambitious plan requires careful analysis and strong community support.
Unfortunately, it seems that the people behind this project have no patience for planning and little taste for democracy. Instead of engaging the public and trying to build consensus, they've chosen to hide their intentions behind noble goals (affordable housing, historic preservation, African-American heritage), knowing very well that this would weigh heavily in the votes of the boards and commissions and that it would allow them to portray any opposition as "insensitive," "egotistical," or worse.
Why Patrick Manning and Philippe Jordi have committed their respective organizations (IAHF and IHT) to support this masquerade remains a mystery (nonprofits aren't supposed to serve private interests), but - short of insulting their intelligence - I can only assume they are fully aware of the project's true intentions. Even more troublesome is that their presentation of Bradley Square as "affordable housing for the benefit of Oak Bluffs residents, combined with the preservation of a historic African-American church" was decisive in the town's vote to allocate CPA funding, and that similar arguments were used to mislead the Martha's Vineyard Commission into believing that this project was a purely local initiative presenting little impact beyond Dukes County Ave.
What we are witnessing in this project is the systematic use of "fait accompli" politics. Using half-truths and exposing little or vague details, each step forward strengthens the claim that it is now too late to change course. One can easily predict that using the same tactics, the so-called "live/work studios" will become tomorrow's full-fledged retail shops (well, they're already built and by sheer coincidence happen to be perfect for this purpose, so it's only logical), the low-key function hall/NAACP office will become tomorrow's heavily used community center (sorry, we came to realize that it was the only way to make this place economically viable), and some other neighborhood will become tomorrow's satellite parking lot (you made us promise we would shuttle people in, so you can't oppose this now).
Bradley Square is currently in the hands of the ZBA, which in a quasi dictatorial way had already closed the public hearings when last Thursday its chairman was "firmly advised" by town counsel to reopen them. I strongly encourage every reader who believes that back-room politics and deceit should have no place on the Island to voice their concerns at this new public hearing on September 18.
It is high time for the Bradley Square team to clearly state their intentions. Either this is about creating a new tourist destination in Oak Bluffs, and the CPA funding and Martha's Vineyard Commission approval votes should be recast in this context, or it is strictly an affordable housing project (accessible to any eligible candidates) combined with the preservation of a historic church (as a museum and/or NAACP office), and prior to ZBA approval the design must be reviewed in collaboration with the abutters and neighbors to ensure that the scale of the buildings fit the neighborhood and that all necessary parking spaces are provided on site.
Nothing more than lobbyists
To the Editor:
I find it astounding that the annual attack on commercial striped bass fishing is this year directed at the very fisheries managers that are responsible for one of the greatest stock restorations in history.
When striped bass enter our waters, they become a resource that belongs to everyone in the state and are managed as such. They do not belong to a select group that Fred Jennings (letters to the editor Aug. 28) would like to designate. Interesting that Stripers Forever advocates the banning of commercial striper fishing, which accounts for less than 20 percent of striper mortality while giving access to the non-fishing public, yet praises the recreational fishermen, who account for nearly 80 percent of the annual mortality, as conservationists.
Mr. Jennings is absolutely incorrect in his statement that last year's commercial striper season was extended due to poor fishing. The commercial quota is determined, based on the best available data for a sustainable catch, by our state fishery managers and the season lasts until this pre-determined quota has been filled. No season has ever been shortened or lengthened since the quota system was implemented.
He is also incorrect in his statement that a shift in migration and feeding habits of striped bass to offshore waters could not possibly account for less stripers inshore. If he had been out there, as I and many others have been, he would know this.
So why would such an attack be launched against our state fishery managers and commercial fishermen under the guise of conservation? Very simply because Fred Jennings and Stripers Unlimited are nothing more than lobbyists for the recreational fishing industry.
Cotuit and West Tisbury
To the Editor:
It is quite amazing to read Fred Jennings, president, Stripers Forever recent letter to the Times regarding striped bass stocks. He claims that striped bass stocks are in decline, contrary to all other experts. I am so glad he and his organization are saving the rest of us from misinterpreting fisheries experts! He also claims that "gamefish status" will save striped bass from extinction. What he and others like him fail to mention is that the recreational sector takes ten times as many striped bass as does the wanton commercial sector. To confirm this, Mr. Jennings, please consult some of your so-called experts along with any fishery expert. You and others take the pompous attitude that the rest of us are incapable of a valid conclusion. How about if we reduce the recreational daily amount to one fish per person over 28"? To speak of barbless hooks as a solution contradicts all of reality. Get real, Mr. Jennings! As usual, you and other so-called conservationists who flail away at commercial bass fishing as a solution should remember a famous cartoon, "I saw the enemy and it is us!"
Much more dangerous
To the Editor:
I viewed on MVTV the Tisbury board of selectmen and the Tisbury planning board's meeting of August 19 where the subject of the protesters demonstrating at five corners was discussed and I also read last week's article, "Protest rules at Five Corners."
Very briefly, I disagree 100 percent with everything Henry Stephenson, planning board co-chairman, had to say on this issue.
Just a couple things, people walk over that bricked area all the time from every angle to get to and from the post office and Cumberland Farms at all times. That is the busiest and most dangerous intersection certainly in Tisbury and I would also say on the Island and if you allow protesters to flock there and create a circus-like atmosphere sometimes with music and amplifiers it will certainly become much more dangerous and by far much more busy. Demonstrators with their signs are always encouraging drivers to honk if they "Don't support the War," "Impeach Bush" (even though he has three months left) or whatever. So now you have some drivers honking, waving and then some others giving them the finger and telling them to *&^%$#!
The "Support the Troops" rallies we have had in the past were held at the Vineyard Haven bridge boat landing with the Tisbury Police notified well in advance and that worked out excellent for everybody even for the ones who gave us the finger for "Supporting the Troops."
I just hope that during the process of the town "possibly" acquiring the section of property in question from the post office that well advertised public hearings will be held and that Henry Stephenson and the Planning Board will truthfully let the Tisbury citizens know exactly what their intentions are for that property if it is ever obtained.
Lastly the Planning Board knows and knew it is against Federal Law and also against state and local laws to block sidewalks with stationary signs, guitars with amps, static boot displays and so on, so I would advise that you cease telling anxious protesters that "if anyone wants to communicate their interests or opinions to the rest of the community this is the place to do it." I still say the Tisbury Planning Board letter to the editor published on July 30 and written on town stationary was totally out of order. Remember, you said "it's not our role, however, to create the rules," so what do you say that you start abiding by them.
Clean it up
To the Editor:
I certainly agreed with those who wrote in support of the former Second Hand Store staff. They were dismissed in an unprofessional and undeserving manner.
And now a few weeks later I have gone back to the store with a few donations and to browse around. Imagine my surprise - there are books in cartons and strewn on the floor, housewares are in cartons and some on display should never have been accepted for re-sale, clothing was torn and stained. In fact the manager (who did seem very pleasant) told a customer that the "downstairs was a mess" (sic).
Funny that the buzz was to turn the store into a "boutique" and now it looks like a rummage sale.
The board made a mistake - actually more than one. They discharged their fine staff, disappointed the community and now have enabled a once fine store to deteriorate. Clean up the store and clean up your act!
To the Editor:
On Saturday morning my mom found a small dog inside of a small crate locked up in a car with the windows appearing to be completely rolled up. She was able to track down the owners who she found enjoying brunch in a nearby cafe. One of the owners was extremely upset and shouting at my mom but what he/she did not realize is that my mom did them a favor by locating them instead of calling the animal control officer or a police officer. Locking a dog in a car with little or no air circulation on a warm summer day is a form of animal abuse and can be punishable by law.
Please do not lock your pets in a hot car while you run errands or enjoy meals. It is better to leave them at home where they are safe and cooler on warm summer days.
Just say not yet
To the Editor:
The Family Dollar Store in Rockland wins the dubious honor as being the first I've seen with shelves full of Christmas decorations for sale - on September 2, the day after Labor Day. I don't mean to single out Family Dollar; they may not be the first, only the first that I've seen. I'm never amused at the crass commercialism that is masquerading as Christmas. I'm even less amused at the earlier and earlier invasion into our lives.
It got me thinking as to why stores are stocking their shelves with Christmas goods almost four months in advance. I'd have to hazard a guess that it's because we, the consumers, are buying the stuff! Perhaps if there was no payback to merchants' devoting valuable shelf space to Christmas goods so much sooner that we'd like to see them, they might re-evaluate their strategies. Is the solution that simple?
Don't buy Christmas merchandise before November! Perhaps you can hold out until December if you really feel strongly about it. Let's show the merchants we don't appreciate them rushing the season.
The lucky winner
To the Editor:
Asante sana [Kiswhahili] Thank you very much!
My deepest thanks to Eleanor Neubert and her faithful Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair volunteers, all of you avid Red Sox raffle ticket buyers, Vineyard friends, neighbors and especially my St. Andrew's support team at our "Mission to Maseno" nonprofit table at the fair....
It was a gift to meet so many people this past weekend who share a connection to East Africa and who support my efforts to return to Kenya. As a sadly predictable result of the post-election (January-March 2008) chaos there, the sick got sicker and the poor got poorer. The people of rural Western Province have asked for our help. We will be providing hope, as well as food and medicine, to orphans and their caregivers. Thanks to the love and support of this Island community and The Episcopal Church, I will be leaving October 14 for a long-term mission assignment to work as a nurse in Maseno, Kenya, where malnutrition and poverty are exacerbating the already-devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases. I am grateful to have an opportunity to extend my volunteer efforts, this time "off Island," after 35 years of working together with AIDS Alliance, Food Pantry, Habitat and Hospice volunteers here.
Meanwhile, close to home, Heather Smyth, from Worcester was the lucky winner of our benefit raffle at the Fair: two Red Sox tickets, an autographed Curt Schilling rookie card and poster! However, I am the lucky "winner" of your ongoing friendship and support, and I will carry them to Kenya with me. The people of Maseno will know I am there because all of you care. Asante sana! Please stay in touch via blog:http://heart-to-godblogspot.com
Dianne Smith, RN