Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Horses are not as common a sight on Martha’s Vineyard as they once were. They may be seen grazing in a few roadside pastures or pulling hay wagons and carriages for special events, or performing at the agricultural fair, but most equestrian activity takes place off the Island’s main roads and therefore out of public view. A reliable estimate places the number of horses on Martha’s Vineyard year-round at more than 1,000; the equine population, like the human, increases in summer.

The Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council (MVHC) was founded in the early 1970s and is the Island’s only nonprofit organization devoted to equestrian activities. Its official purpose is “to bring together all horse lovers on Martha’s Vineyard, to promote horses and their related activities, as well as to provide educational clinics, seminars and youth programs for its membership.” It currently has upwards of 150 members. We range in age from single digits to “right up there.” Whether we keep our horses in fully equipped boarding stables or in modest backyard barns, we live for the hours we can spend at the barn, grooming, mucking stalls, cleaning tack, feeding, and doing the myriad chores that go into horsekeeping. We do all kinds of riding, solo and in company; some of us also drive.

The horse council sponsors several horse shows and other activities throughout the year. Among its most popular events is the annual fall pace ride, which takes place on the trails in and near the state forest. Many council members ride the Island trails, dirt roads, and ancient ways year-round. The state forest provides an extensive network of trails, dirt tracks and fire lanes, which horseback riders share with walkers, joggers, runners, rollerbladers and bicyclists. The five special ways that have been nominated by the Edgartown planning board for designation as a district of critical planning concern are especially important to riders east of Barnes Road because they allow riders to access the state forest without riding along the main roads.

In bygone decades, riders could go almost anywhere on horseback. In these days of more and faster traffic, the main roads are best avoided. Increased development has restricted or eliminated access to many previously accessible fields and trails. Like other lovers of the outdoors, equestrians depend on public lands and publicly accessible trails. The horse council urges the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to designate these five special ways as a district of critical planning concern so that they will remain safe and accessible to riders in coming years, and even in future generations.

Susanna J. Sturgis

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Your recent article regarding the dredging of the Edgartown Great Pond 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 Edgartown Great Pond 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 pond.

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 pond 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 ponds’ watersheds 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 Edgartown Great Pond watershed, Island Grove, Old Purchase, Meetinghouse Road and the homes on the pond to name just a few could prevent 30 to 40 milligrams per liter of 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 three to five milligrams per 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 Great Pond.

We don’t need a water resource planner to tell us we would be better off taking the remaining plant capacity and sewering within the watershed to prevent huge amounts of nitrogen, which directly affect the pond’s water quality, from entering the pond.

In addition to all this avoidable nitrogen entering the plume from downtown and beyond, what is not being discussed is the septic pumping 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 Edgartown Great Pond.

Dredging is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

The truth always bubbles to the surface. In this case we may not have long to wait.

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth has spent more than two years on a major pond study which should be revealed any day, but with what is being trucked into this plume from outside the watershed, I fear the news won’t be good.

Jay A. Guest



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I had an experience at the Main Street Diner in Edgartown. I was charged 50 cents for a glass of tap water with my dinner. Has anyone ever heard of a restaurant charging money for water straight from the tap? Is it even legal?

Stacey Witt



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard has passed another milestone.

On Sept. 6, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission formally approved our building plan. While we still need to secure important approvals in the town of Oak Bluffs and raise the remaining funds required, the construction of the Y is now in sight.

We want to take this opportunity to publicly thank all those organizations that have worked so diligently and cooperatively with us to reach this critical turning point.

We are deeply grateful for the spirit of good will and collaboration that has existed from the outset of our project. For the past two years, as the Y has worked to develop a campus plan that would encompass our project, we have enjoyed the full and wonderfully supportive participation of our neighbors. Throughout the process, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission offered constructive guidance, functioning in its planning role.

The actual approval process before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission was not without obstacles. Some of the hurdles were difficult to overcome. The issues, however, were of vital importance to the Island: the need to protect our Great Ponds and our water supply, the need to safeguard the natural habitat, the need to explore alternative sources of energy and the need to secure affordable housing. Thanks to the collaboration and trust already in place, solutions were found. The MVC did its job. We did our job. Our project is better for it. The Island is better for it.

We must now secure final approvals in the Town of Oak Bluffs and raise the remaining funds needed to break ground. We are counting on the continuing support of our generous Island community.

Judy Crawford

(for the YMCA Board)

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

At last Thursday’s Cape Wind discussion (in Katharine Cornell Theatre), opponents continued to portray Cape Wind as a nasty developer — an organization wanting to obtain public property, install machinery, receive government subsidies and earn profits for its shareholders.

I’m confused. Why are they making such a fuss? Isn’t this how we operate in America? Aren’t all the existing companies that presently supply our electricity (Mirant Corporation, etc.) the same type of nasty developer? Aren’t they all privately owned, occupying (or impacting upon) public property, taking advantage of subsidies, and earning profits for their owners?

I suggest that Cape Wind de-energize their opponents’ attacks by clearly and proudly stating that Cape Wind is playing by the rules of capitalism — that it is a company that wants to sell a valuable and much-needed product (clean electricity), and like Mirant and the other developers is entitled to making a profit.

And if people want to continue opposing the construction of new, corporate-owned electric-generating equipment (such as Cape Wind’s turbines), then I suggest that they take $10,000-plus out of their wallets and install solar panels and turbines at their homes. In addition, they should convene government committees, establish town-owned electric utilities, and set up town-owned wind turbines (the way Hull has).

Unfortunately, the second option will likely take 10-plus years, and by the time such turbines are operational, global warming will be out of control.

Chris Fried

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Does a reality check need to be written over and over or are we there yet?

What follows is a list of Oak Bluffs’ gifts to the Island community — tax-free gifts provided in addition to police and fire protection — ambulance, too:

The hospital, the state police building, the high school and adjoining facilities, the Performing Arts Center, the skating rink, the skateboard park, Community Services, the YMCA, the Flying Horses, the most swimmable in-town public beach, the East Chop lighthouse, the basketball court and program, the Little League ball field, the Steamship Authority, the Catholic community building, senior housing, Woodside Village and Aidylberg, Ocean Park as a site for events, including fireworks and concerts, Union Chapel, all the other parks, the huge construction projects for benefit of the whole Island impacting mainly Oak Bluffs for years.

Why, therefore, would anyone object for one moment to the change in high school funding giving Oak Bluffs a break?

I wish I understood, but all I can see is denial of reality and fairness. What else is there?

Ann L. Margetson

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Please read The Community Preservation Act Enabling Statute, Section 2. Definitions: Recreational Use, which states that the use of the funds shall not include . . . the use of land for a stadium, gymnasium or similar structure.

I have looked up the dictionary definition of the word stadium. Webster’s New World Dictionary, second edition, second entry: a large oval, round, or U-shaped open structure, as for football, baseball, track events, etc.

Wikipedia: A modern stadium is a place or venue, for (mostly) outdoor sports . . . consisting of a field . . . partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.

I believe the Oak Bluffs CPA committee members need to revisit the decision to allocate funds for this project in light of their own statute.

This proposed project may not appear to be a stadium, but in fact it is, or it is a similar structure.


Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Friday morning bridge game at the up-Island Council for the Aging will never make it into Jim Kaplan’s bridge column, but it deserves appreciative notice. The game has been going for about 15 years. It was originated by Alice Childs, Betty Morris and Margaret Pontecorvo, and Betty and Margaret are still the organizers.

Anyone who signs up is welcome to play. There are commonly four tables. Men and (mostly) women come from as far away as Aquinnah, Edgartown and Lambert’s Cove Road. I hesitate to estimate the average age, but the 80s and 90s are well represented. When I brought my 53-year-old son as a guest, he was treated as a little boy. The bridge is serious but not cutthroat. There is a core of dedicated friends, and we all know one another and who bids strong twos and who bids the unusual no-trump.

The only other joy of summer that remotely compares is the Monday-to-Thursday 1 p.m. meeting of the cardiac rehab group at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Here are Mae and Fay and George and sometimes Marge and Jeannie, exercising and talking about books and politics and travel and Vineyard gossip, under the watchful eye of the superb physical therapist M.J., the hostess with the mostest. What a summer!

Barbara L. Solow



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I recently had to go to our Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. I was greeted at the emergency room by a compassionate, caring nurse. Her name is Beth Smith. She is the epitome of nursing.

Shirley Smith

Vineyard Haven

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.