Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter has been sent to Wayne Lamson, general manager at the Steamship Authority:

My family and I have had occasion to travel on the new Island Home several times since she was introduced to the run between the Vineyard and Woods Hole. Although she does emulate — in some ways — our much-loved and missed Islander (the double-ended configuration and drive-through, etc.), she has some very curious design and construction features. Here are a few things that I noticed.

First, the structural surfaces (bulkheads, partitions, overhead, etc.) are coated with some sort of rough substance. It probably has to be fire-resistant, and a rough surface may have been specified to alleviate abrasion damage, but it also resists all attempts to clean it. Indeed, the vertical surfaces are already starting to look tired, particularly in the lower sections. Surely a more easily cleaned yet durable surface could have been selected.

The auxiliary ramps, which accommodate additional cars, forced a double height freight deck. This has resulted in side cabins with passenger seats on the mezzanine level. The third deck up has the central core with the refreshment area. This apparently benefits the galley functions, but the front counter is cramped and poorly laid out — quite inefficient.

Further, there is a long partition to one side which blocks the open flow of traffic and vision. The passenger section on that side is tunnel-like and an unfortunate design.

The worst feature, however, is that the only restrooms for passengers are located in the same central core — on the third deck. If you are on the freight/vehicle deck or the mezzanine level you have to search for the accommodation plan, locate the restrooms, and then climb up. For anyone who is no longer young and nimble, for parents (or grandparents) with small kids, for someone with baggage (remember the admonitions about unattended luggage) or for anyone with mobility issues but who is not technically handicapped (and where are the elevators anyway?), the climb is an issue.

The Island Home has had recurring teething problems; before the next shipyard maintenance period some serious thought and planning should be devoted to correcting flaws such as these — particularly the restroom situation.

Virginia Crowell Jones

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To the Island:

Thank you to those of you who have written me about my changing role at the Vineyard Energy Project following the Gazette article. It is most appreciated. The Vineyard Energy Project is going through a transition as we redefine our role in helping with the energy challenge that is before us all. We hope to offer greater amounts of practical solutions to increase the Island’s energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

A new board is in place and actively working on the project’s next steps. In a world that is rapidly changing, I think having some fresh thinking on this challenge and greater amounts of community participation are key to the Island’s success in meeting it. I will still be very much involved in the energy project — helping with building-related programs and other aspects of our efforts.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about us, go to

Kate Warner

West Tisbury

Kate Warner is director of the Vineyard Energy Project.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The recent production of A Chorus Line provided the real-life illustration of the vital importance of our high school’s performing arts programs. The cast included students involved in academics, competitive sports, the Model United Nations, music, theatre, dance, etc. The cast, and particularly the 20-plus soloists, put on a truly extraordinary show. Our young people are multitalented and enormously capable; they deserve to be taken seriously. Under the direction of the performing arts faculty, look what they accomplished.

I am involved in the effort to maintain current staffing levels in the music and theater programs. Education in the creative and performing arts results in well-documented benefits to a wide range of students, including successful college admissions; enhanced test-taking and performance in academic classes; the development of public speaking and leadership skills; the coordination of visual, auditory, and sensory skills and learning; and the integration of academic and creative skills.

I appreciate the growing financial pressures facing the administration, school committee, and towns. I appreciate that enrollment numbers may play a role in course offerings. However, given the obvious high level of interest and talent among high school students, and the many benefits of arts education, rather than cutting courses and faculty, it is important to consider options for positive change and expansion in the current performing arts program.

Emerging ideas include expansion of the performing arts programs, and the creation of a performing arts track or major. Further development of elective classes available to all students will engage them at a beginning level, and introduce the integration of intellectual thought and creative action and arts. At the other end of the spectrum, there is a growing number of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students applying to audition-based, college-level performing arts programs and pursuing higher education and careers in this area. Our students will benefit by the addition of dance classes, by courses which integrate history, literature, language and the creative and performing arts, and by classes that prepare them for college applications and requirements, as the high school does in many other areas.

These ideas may seem impractical to some given the current financial climate and projected enrollment decline. At this time, supporters of the performing arts programs are looking for a one-year grace period during which these programs will be maintained at current staffing levels (one full-time theater faculty member, three full-time music faculty members.) Through continued collaboration between schools superintendent Dr. James Weiss, the school committee, principal Margaret (Peg) Regan, incoming principal Steve Nixon, the performing arts faculty, students, parents, and community members, the ongoing, thoughtful, and thorough assessment of needs, resources and options will provide concrete information about next steps as we approach budget development in the fall of 2009.

While many are appropriately concerned about the financial bottom line, the real bottom line is the welfare, support, education, and care of our young people. What I saw on that stage was a group of diverse, talented and professional young performers. I also saw a group of kids who worked their butts off and sang, danced and acted their hearts out — and really cared about what they were doing. Priceless.

Jane Dreeben

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Well, it’s all but done. In what seemed as the most unpleasant of campaigns in recent memory, the town of Chilmark is going to have affordable housing by spending as much money as possible to achieve it.

The town is doing so after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy out any possible interests involved from clay rights to land purchases, to develop a piece of property a mile out in nowhere, down a barely improved road with no water, no power, no communications or data and take years to do it, instead of going across the street to an area with nearly complete infrastructure: improved road, power, communications and data and wells in the ground that once fed fire ponds almost big enough to water-ski in.

This is all part of a development that was stillborn. Had the town pursued this area of interest, keys to homes would already be in the hands of owners years ago. Why not?

I suspect NIMBY — Not In My Back Yard — but that is only speculation on my part. Now the town will spend a million dollars to have . . . paper in order. The lunatics are running the asylum.

William H. Smith



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding Friday, Feb. 22, article on raising poultry, including chickens, turkeys and meat consumption. I hope to see less and less consumption of the above. The very foods responsible for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other notorious diseases that continue to plague the human race — the very foods that contribute to obesity and body poisoning because of the drugs and pesticides and deplorable conditions these animals are forced to live in. And their short days are ended at a ruthless slaughterhouse where animals are treated as though they never should have been born.

William Riley



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Most of us Cape and Islanders love where we live, and think our progeny ought to inherit this Edenic habitat as unspoiled as possible. So when environmental scientists tell us we must reduce carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050 or the seas will rise 20 feet, we had better not be deaf to the alarm bell.

Tufts professor William Moomaw, who is a member of the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has written that when an atmospheric level of 450 parts per million is reached, that catastrophic sea rise will become an irreversible fact. We are at 383 parts per million now, so we simply have to get to work on it pronto. It sounds like an impossible goal, but Professor Moomaw figures a three per cent reduction per year could do it.

Electricity generation and transportation are the elephantine targets to address. If we want to save our coastlines, we had better quit fussing about the wind farm. If we persist in driving gas guzzlers, we have to assume our share of guilt for climate change. The professor has a list of things we can do that aren’t usually talked about in terms of ocean rise. They are less drastic than wearing three sweaters (with the thermostat turned down) or wearing bikinis or less in summer (with the air conditioner off).

Some save us money, some will help the foundering economy:

Buy locally produced foods (cutting down on truckers’ mileage), become a compulsive recycler, replace inefficient furnaces and appliances, cut back on the miles we drive, go vegan or substitute fish and chicken for beef (which is high in greenhouse gas emissions), walk or bike on short trips, tighten up your house with duopane windows and draft-free doors, and be an electricity miser. Become greener in every way you can think of.

Now, please turn out the lights and think about it by the glow of your wood stove.

Richard C. Bartlett



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It has been said that those of us who are not in favor of the sale of beer and wine in Vineyard Haven are afraid of change. But what is wrong with liking our town the way it is?

That is why I joined the beer and wine committee in the first place over a year ago. I wanted to educate myself to learn if perhaps the sale of beer and wine would help our town: lower taxes or something like that. Yet we concluded after interviews and surveys that there appeared to be no significant financial change either way, except the obvious benefit to the restaurants that got licenses.

What we are voting on the ballot is to give the selectmen the power to choose how, when, where beer and wine may be sold in our town. The first proposal a year back mentioned five year-round restaurants, now there is talk of up to 15. It will solely depend on who our selectmen are at the time that restrictions are put into place.

Personally, I prefer to keep us a bring your own beverage town, one of the few in the state. A town that is comfortable for 13 to 15-year-olds to hang out after the movies. Yes, we may be quieter than Oak Bluffs or Edgartown, but we are still year-round.

I encourage you to learn more about the issue, make your own decision and vote. What happens in our town does matter. You matter. Please vote. Thank you.

Gretchen Snyder

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you, Martha Moore, for penning the letter regarding our unconscious waste of paper in the form of unwanted catalogues and junk mail. The Web site has a list of several organizations (some free, some with a small fee) to help rid ourselves of junk mail.

I chose GreenDimes. For a small fee, they plant trees, I choose which mail I want stopped, and they contact them for me, officially.

Conservation organizations and no junk mail list supporters are working together to create a bill at the local level and aspiring to make it a federal bill, like the no-call list. Sign a petition at and get in touch with our government reps to give your support.

Linda Zeigler

Vineyard Haven