Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter is being sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission:

We are writing this letter in support of the Bradley Square project.

Our neighborhood has long been home to artists, their work spaces, their galleries and their homes. In the very heart of our neighborhood, the Island Affordable Housing Fund, together with the Island Housing Trust, is undertaking a project which we will be proud to have as the centerpiece of the arts district. We can’t imagine a project more in keeping with the spirit of our neighborhood. It embodies so much of what we all care about as artists, neighbors and business owners — affordable housing, historic preservation, celebrating African American cultural heritage, providing artists with affordable live/work/gallery spaces, the aesthetic of thoughtfully and beautifully designed buildings, green open space to be enjoyed by all, eliminating a run-down property from our streetscape, increasing the town’s tax revenue and furthering the vibrancy and sense of community in our neighborhood.

Within the past couple of months we’ve gained a valuable insight from our neighbors about the importance of respecting and embracing the rich history of our neighborhood, in all of its diversity. Our neighborhood is very supportive of its artists, while at the same time supportive of all who call it home and who run a variety of businesses. Thankfully, there is room for all of us to express our vision, and it is in that spirit that we welcome Bradley Square.

As to any problems that surface, be it parking, trash pickup, lighting placement, or any other issue raised by members of the neighborhood, we hope that we can all work together toward constructive solutions. The vision of Bradley Square and what it means to Island history, the arts and affordable housing, are all well worth the effort.

We wish to thank all of the organizations and individuals who have been pouring their hearts and souls, and endless hours of hard work, into making this project a reality. We have found them to be incredibly supportive of the spirit of our neighborhood, creative in their approach, and open to our feedback. As members of the arts district, this project has our 100 per cent support. We sincerely hope you will give your support to Bradley Square.

Holly Alaimo,

for members of the arts district

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The front-page conceit of the Vineyard Gazette regarding discussion of Jeffersonian democracy and our nation’s economic plight as theatrics is only exceeded by the newspaper’s banality. One should expect more from the nation’s oldest continuing weekly. The context of my Jeffersonian remarks at Tisbury’s town meeting, reported by the Gazette as a theatrical highlight, is essentially “the price we pay for freedom is our willingness to be governed.” As distasteful as some may think, part of that governance to which we submit is Proposition two and a half. Not mandated to be overturned on every spendthrift whim, Proposition two and a half is lawful. Although lawful as well, a $590,000 Tisbury two and a half override for ball field improvement is harmful to our heavily taxed electorate in a time of recession; hence my plea for reconsidering the article. The Gazette confuses law breaking with law overturning. Being roundly ostracized for theatrics, I can take the heat.

In the day between the town meeting approval of article four and resumption of debate, the Federal Reserve chairman openly referred to heading into recession in a congressional hearing. This decline into recession for the first time in memory cannot be swept under the rug. Last Wednesday, Chairman Bernanke didn’t take lightly the nation’s economic decline and neither should Tisbury. In light of recession, mine is the voice of moderation and spending restraint in perilous financial times, not a hue and cry against the citizenry and its ball field.

The local fiscal problem results from flag-waving our kids in front of town meeting, precipitating approval of reckless spending. Some of those kids range up to 18 years of age. It is irresponsible to teach them as new voters that when one doesn’t like a law, just toss it aside. Contrary to the Gazette’s view, mine is not a parental rebuke in child-rearing, but rather a caveat against imbuing a spirit in our young people of tossing aside Proposition two and a half unnecessarily. It was inappropriately childish, as well, for a town meeting member to offer Iraqi war costs in contrasting justification for fixing a Tisbury ball field. This amounts to apples and oranges; the two are totally unrelated and mutually exclusive. Of serious consequence however, is a town warrant article calling for $300 trash cans and $500 planks for team benches, without justification or cost explanation. This evinces a seriously flawed public works department bidding process smacking of pork. I do not need a $500 plank for riding the bench while waiting for the coach to put me in. The article also provides for the selectmen to accept donations to reduce the cost of the project. I pointed out that nobody at town meeting offered $50,000, $10,000 or a dime. The meeting was silent.

There is no harm in rejecting and sending the ball field question back to the public works department with a requisite to sharpen pencils, submitting in 2009 or 2010 a fiscally responsible article without $300 trash cans and $500 benches.

In my remarks, Chief Justice John Marshall (1755-1835) was quoted: “The power to tax involves the power to destroy.” In fixed-income retirement, I have no desire to be destroyed under increasing tax burdens precipitated by tax overrides. Thankfully, there’s always next week’s vote in the ballot box.

Bruce E. Doten

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Tisbury has now completed the work of the annual town meeting. We may congratulate ourselves for the confidence we have shown in our town officials and citizens.

In spite of whimpers of doom and gloom, we have agreed that the Veterans Memorial Park must be renewed in much the same manner as it was originally developed. Preparations for a new connnector road to bypass the Edgartown Road-Look street intersection may also become an opportunity for more playing fields for our young people. And we recognized the needs of our very young people with the new Tashmoo playground.

We are continuing to support the rehabilitation of our historic buildings and finding several ways to provide much needed affordable housing.

Approvals of waterworks projects and joining the electric cooperative are further evidence that we think this town has a bright future. Looking around at the busy construction industry and noting the achievements of our high school students gives us the sense that we are well equipped to deal with the future.

It is a source of puzzlement that one small section of our business district, Main street, seems stuck in the tourist boom of the 1980-90s. Now that off-Islanders know where our celebrities are, they will come here for the beaches and our other natural resources, but not to buy T-shirts. Main street must follow the example of our other businesses and make use of the talents and abilities that we already have. The future is here! And it can be as rewarding as the past.

Mary H. Snyder

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was surprised and thankful. On two separate occasions, great staff at two businesses in Vineyard Haven phoned to say we have your purse. They are Che’s Lounge and Vineyard Electronics.

Che’s kept it overnight. It was there when they opened the next day. Vineyard Electronics stayed open until I returned.

Neither would accept any reward. Just come see us again (Che’s) or an apology for going through my stuff to figure out whose purse it was (Vineyard Electronics.)

Trustworthy Vineyarders have helped me in many ways. Thank you.

Abbie Steele



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter is also being sent to town manager Michael Dutton and the Oak Bluffs selectmen.

I was shocked to read of the decision to eliminate lifeguards at Oak Bluffs beaches for summer 2008. Our beaches are perhaps the most heavily used on the Island, by summer and year-round residents alike, particularly families with young children.

Elimination of lifeguards will seriously endanger all those who use these beaches, a group that includes not only Oak Bluffs taxpayers, but seasonal visitors and residents from all over the Island who come to our beaches to swim and relax.

During the summer months Martha’s Vineyard is a resort Island. Shouldn’t the town welcome those who come to patronize businesses in town and also protect those who wish to enjoy our beaches?

I have been a summer resident of Oak Bluffs for over 50 years and I am a daily swimmer at town beaches. I am also a taxpayer 12 months a year on an Island where I spend two to three months annually, and like other summer residents my tax dollars are an important part of the town’s tax base. Our safety and enjoyment of the beach should be an important part of the town’s concerns as well.

What is the budgetary process that led to these proposed cuts? Isn’t there a public safety issue involved? What was your rationale for coming up with this decision? Where is the transparency in why these cuts are necessary? How was it decided to cut these services as opposed to others?

And while we are loath in America and on the Vineyard to acknowledge the elephant in the middle of the beach, what role does race play in this decision? Is it only chance that lifeguards are to be eliminated at the beaches in Oak Bluffs predominantly used by African Americans?

These are not rhetorical questions, but ones that demand answers. I look forward to a prompt response. I ask you to reconsider your decision to eliminate lifeguards and rethink the decision to cut funds for a seasonal position at the board of health and for the town tennis program.

I look forward to a prompt response to this letter.

Jill Nelson

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On March 8, 2008, Featherstone Center for the Arts lost its biggest champion.

The pastoral six acres of Featherstone Center for the Arts was purchased from the Stevens family in 1996 in large part due to the vision and generosity of Virginia Weston Besse and her husband, Arthur.

Through Featherstone’s 12 years of development, Virginia contributed so much of her energy, resources and caring to nurture Featherstone into the fine arts center it is today.

So many artists mention it was due to her encouragement that they either first exhibited here at Featherstone or pursued art as a career in those early Featherstone years when shows were exhibited in the former horse barn. One of those she encouraged and mentored in the late 1990s is the now well-known artist, Anne Grandin, who will sponsor the opening reception to honor Virginia on Sunday, June 22. Anne says she would not be the artist she is today without the encouragement of Virginia.

For many years Virginia served in every capacity to help Featherstone grow and prosper. Most recently she served on the gallery committee where she tied fishing wire to hang gallery shows over the years, as artist Nancy Kingsley recalls. She would be so proud of our new up-to-date gallery display system, donated by her dedicated artist friend and Featherstone advisor Helen Bowring.

In Featherstone’s history if there was a request to improve the center, Virginia was the first to volunteer her time and resources. In the past five years, under the new director, she offered history and encouragement and gave, as did others, to complete the newest structure, The Pebble. In 2006 when she decided it was time to retire from the Featherstone board, board members unanimously anointed her an honorary board member and dedicated the gallery to her: The Virginia Weston Besse Gallery.

Every visit to the gallery, she lamented “all that recognition.” But that recognition was but a small way to say thank you for all that she meant to this year-round arts venture.

Last summer her family brought Virginia to Featherstone for the opening of Ellen McCluskey’s pastel show and dedication of the Labyrinth — a new space at Featherstone. She was greeted and hugged by everyone and said she was so happy to see how Featherstone was growing into the center of the arts on the Vineyard as she and Mary Stevens and many others had hoped. Just don’t name anything else in her honor, she said. But that will be hard to do. Featherstone is here and thriving because of Virginia Weston Besse.

Her spirit is here. We love her and we miss her.

Francine Kelly

And the board and staff

of Featherstone

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Your article two weeks ago about the Bradley Square development’s presentation to the commission made it very clear that a variety of interests and organizations are involved in and supportive of this Oak Bluffs project.

It was very clear in the article that Bradley Square will bring together, in one creative mix, affordable housing, market-rate housing, offices, historical preservation of Reverend Denniston’s church, galleries and art studios. Should this project reach final development, it will be an exciting place to be — diverse, interesting, welcoming. Very Oak Bluffs.

When something like this happens I always wonder, “Where is the leadership coming from, to weave these people and interests together into an economically viable enterprise that does more than fill an investor’s pocket?”

My guess is that if you talk to people involved in the NAACP, the historical society, Habitat for Humanity, the Island Housing Trust, the community preservation committee, the arts district, and state and local funding sources, they will all give you the same answer: “Ron DiOrio got us together to make this happen.”

Peter Palches

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

April 13 to 19 is National Library Week, a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries, librarians and library workers in schools, campuses and communities nationwide — and the perfect time to discover how you can join the circle of knowledge about your library.

Library use is up nationwide among all types of library users, continuing a decade-long trend, and it’s easy to see why. Libraries are places where everyone can go to discover the world. With free resources like books, magazines, DVDs and computer and wi-fi access, libraries help people find new jobs, do better in school, tackle projects and learn new ways to improve their health.

Every day, libraries in big cities and small towns, colleges and universities, in schools and in businesses help transform their communities. At our library, people of all backgrounds can come together for community meetings, lectures and programs or to do research with the assistance of a trained professional.

What can you discover? National Library Week is the perfect time to find out. Join your family, friends and community. Join the circle of knowledge about your library.

Danguole Budris

Oak Bluffs

Mrs. Budris is director of the Oak Bluffs library.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It was dark on Saturday night, March 29 between 8 and 9 p.m., dark enough that a person standing on Circuit avenue in the middle of the business district in Oak Bluffs could look up in the night sky and clearly see the stars.

Thank you, Vineyarders, for participating so enthusiastically in Lights Out Martha’s Vineyard and being part of Earth Hour, an international energy conservation event. Thanks to all the individuals, families, organizations, places of worship, schools, towns and businesses that joined in and “turned out” to make this such a successful energy conservation event.

Nan Doty



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a young person who was born and raised on the Island, working many summer jobs and full time at Windemere, I also find time to work at the YMCA Alexandra Gagnon teen center at Cottagers Corner in Oak Bluffs.

Some nights are packed with teens, while other nights are less active. You can never really crawl up into a teenager’s head and expect them to plan 24 hours in advance to attend something and truly expect them to show, as a teacher at regional high school told me this past Thursday while I was advertising the center at the high school.

That said, Friday, March 28 was an amazing night for the center. Kids were motivated to attend the open mike night, lyrics in hand, minds pumped, talents soaring.

Some performed their own poetry, while others rapped their own beats, sang songs, beat-boxed, performed comedy and told silly stories. It was a huge success. Kids got up there several times and continued to perform various acts. Before you knew it, they were up there performing together. One would beat box while the other would rap. These kids have great talent, and I’d like to thank them for showing and doing their thing.

I’d also like to thank all of the businesses who have allowed us to post our upcoming events and posters all around. True Islander support. Our goal is to get these kids off the street and into the teen center.

Just wait until the big YMCA is built behind the skate park. They will be clearing ground this spring and breaking ground by fall.

Share the teen center news with your kids. We are open Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. The telephone number is 508-696-9119.

Megan A. Klein

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It’s said that they epitomize the perfect killing machine. They have evolved for thousands of years to a form and function so flawless that they’re the envy of every engineer — torpedoes with teeth, if you like. Sharks, to be precise. Of course, nature is flooded with stunningly efficient killers. Make that was flooded.

Ideally suited for not much of anything, ancient man did find one strength: making tools, specifically, perfect killing machines. As a result, we modern humans are poised to wash away eons of evolutionary splendor.

Concerning sharks, we still hunt them as if a plague, as if endless supplies existed to fuel our zest for blood (and taste for soup). Even now, gruesome shark tournaments persist and television shows featuring shark hunters have audiences holding their breath.

Remind me again who the real beast here is.

Do I wish to swim with sharks? Not for a second. Yet all of us swim with them every day; we simply call it something else. Concerning the ones in the water, do I wish that just once we might set greed aside and leave the animals be? Do I wish that for an instant we could picture the pain, imagine the suffering? With every bone I cry, please, please leave the animals be.

Herman Melville wrote: “When at last we cast the whale’s bones into the sea, we were in no way sad at its funeral.”

Russell Dexter

Franconia, N.H.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Another successful season has ended for the Edgartown Monday night community suppers at the Old Whaling Church. I am proud to say that our average weekly attendance increased significantly from last year, serving a diverse group that often exceeded 70 people.

My sincerest thanks to the members and friends of the United Methodist Cooperative Parish and to the Rotary Club, all of whom have worked hard to provide good food and good fellowship to the residents of Martha’s Vineyard. Thanks to your tireless efforts and all sorts of generous donations we were able to offer these suppers from late October to Easter.

We are thankful for the continued support of the following Island businesses: Stop & Shop, Island Food Products, Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery and Vineyard Cash and Carry. Your interest in this community outreach ministry is greatly appreciated.

Finally, thanks to everyone who helped with food pickup, prep work, cooking, set-up, serving, dishwashing, clean-up and laundry. It has been a pleasure to work with you all.

Karen Rego

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Since the number of American deaths has fallen to about 25 a month, news coverage of Iraq has been much reduced.

But on March 25 The New York Times printed the photographs of about 1,000 of our soldiers killed there in the past year, most of them in their early twenties. To look upon that array of young faces is to have the sadness of this Iraq conflict brought home in a gripping and painful way.

Understandably, the families and friends of those who have been sacrificed fervently wish to believe that the Americans dying in Iraq are making our country safer from terrorist attacks and thereby ultimately saving more American lives than are being lost.

Perhaps this is true. But from another point of view, our Iraq venture appears as a quixotic crusade, with no end in sight, in which we ask 150,000-plus American soldiers to somehow induce or coerce 25 million Iraqis into uniting themselves into a stable, peaceful nation.

Iraq is an appalling place. The prevailing religion breeds suicide bombers. Mutual hatreds and power struggles keep Iraq’s tribes and religious sectarian factions at one another’s throats. An extraordinary number of Iraqis are sadistic murderers who seem to exult in killing their fellow Iraqis as well as killing Americans.

The vicious internecine slaughter in Iraq brings to mind the proverbial metaphor of scorpions in a bottle. The young Americans who are dying there are people we have put in the bottle with the scorpions.

R.E.L. Knight

West Tisbury

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.