Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Growing up as a wharf rat in Vineyard Haven, I remember watching in awe as Capt. Pat Prudencio would steam into Vineyard Haven harbor during a southeast gale aboard the single screw steamer Nobska or the twin screw steamer Nantucket (Naushon), put out a spring-line and spin right into the slip without a thought. The Shenendoah was still in the same location and usually there were two to four 70-foot draggers tied up on the south side of the Steamship Authority pier. There was no direct engine control, only engine telegraph, no bow-thrusters, no GPS or Loran. Just a thought from the past.

Wayne V. Iacono



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For several years in a row, I have seen hunters at Spring Point. Spring Point Association is reached via Putnam Road off of North Road in Chilmark. Over the years, I have heard shots from my next door neighbor’s back yard. I’ve seen bow hunters trailing a deer through my own front yard. I’ve come across trucks full of confrontational hunters saying that they have permission to hunt on “so-and-so’s land” here in Spring Point. And just the other day, I saw a camouflage man dressed to hide, no orange vest, running across a road in Spring Point. The problem with all of this is that there is no hunting in Spring Point. No one here would give any of you permission to hunt in Spring Point as it is against our association rules.

Now, I am all for controlled hunts. I come from a family of hunters. And I know we have a deer problem here on the Island. And I know that you are able to hunt in safe places where it is controlled, allowed, and expected. However, Spring Point is not a protected, safe area for hunting. We have children who walk to and from bus stops. We have adults and children who walk pets along the roads and along our woodland trails at various times throughout the day and into the evening.

I am aware of a family that owns land which abuts Spring Point and allows hunting on their property. I encourage those approved hunters to know where this specific neighboring land ends and where Spring Point begins. And I encourage you to spread the word because now, we are starting to issue No Trespassing Orders. Because we, as I am sure you, want to keep our children, our families, and our pets safe in areas of no hunting.

Keep yourself and others safe by hunting only on approved land.

Constance Messmer



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

There are so many wonderful things that I take for granted while on the Vineyard, and if truth be told, I am reminded of these things most when I am off-Island. Take the other day, after browsing through books at Borders, I decided to purchase a few. I stood in line, waited my turn, and observed the sales associates place purchased merchandise into plastic bags. Immediately, I thought of Cronig’s Market and Healthy Additions and how they choose to use sturdy, reusable paper bags when forgetful customers fail to bring their own reusable bags to transport purchased items.

After a good five minutes, it was my turn at the checkout counter and after paying for my books, I felt compelled to ask if Borders had considered how irresponsible it is to use plastic bags. The tired sales associate simply rolled her eyes and said that she didn’t know.

Surprisingly, she mechanically placed my two paperback novels in a bag the size of a white 13 gallon kitchen garbage bag. Perhaps they ran out of smaller bags? In a falsetto of a thanks, I quickly removed my books and receipt from the white garbage bag and I exited the store with my books in hand.

Despite the fact that the plastic bag is a symbol of consumer convenience from the 20th century, it is perhaps the most ubiquitous manmade invention on the planet. Many plastic bags are made from petroleum-based products harvested from fossil fuels, and some plastic bags with designs in ink or colorants contain lead, a harmful contaminate, a toxin.

Each year Americans dispose of over 100 million plastic bags after a single use of transporting purchased goods from stores like Borders, and the disposal of plastic bags is a very serious problem for the environ ment and animal welfare. Discarded in landfills, plastic bags do not easily decompose and often last for centuries. Additionally, since plastic bags are so light, they frequently blow away and become deadly litter. Plastic bags plague city streets, public parks, children’s playgrounds, and fences; they clog up ventilation machinery and end up in streams, rivers and inevitably oceans. Birds and marine animals suffer horrible and untimely deaths from ingesting or getting caught in plastic bags.

Kudos to Cronig’s Markets, Healthy Additions and to all the informed Island business that employ eco-friendly practices. I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful efforts.

Bryan Freehling



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I strongly oppose the proposed Chappy bike path, now called the mixed-use path, as well as a proposed second environmental study. Furthermore, the use of Community Preservation Act funds for the path and any related expenses is, in my opinion, illegal.

The history of the bike path discussion is a long but sporadic one, going back nearly 30 years, to the late 1970s. Town hearings at that time, moderated by Jeff Norton, also excited much interest. I attended those hearings then as did many longstanding Chappy residents opposing the bike path. The reasons for opposition then are even more cogent now. Before briefly reviewing the basis for opposition, however, let me cite several concerns with this current discussion in 2008.

The Chappaquiddick community has been polled on this matter in a haphazard and questionable manner but putting that aside, why are we all considering this important matter during the holiday season of 2008, when the last time the matter was seriously raised was 30 years ago? We have been told that there is a rush due to the timetable of the community preservation committee and selectmen’s scheduled meetings. Again, why this cycle of meetings? The CPC and selectmen will be there next year as well, after the entire CIA membership could have the opportunity to consider the matter sensibly and appropriately. In addition, only now is there direct outreach to the most affected: property owners whose property would be violated by such a bike path. These Chappy residents were the most strongly opposed to the path the last time. I suspect that would be the same now.

This mixed-use path, if 8-12 feet or wider will require a wider platform for construction, so that the minimum destruction will be considerable. The proposed straight (except for dangerous excursions onto the paved road) bike path, to Menaca Hill or East Beach, will also be a path of destruction of trees, vegetation and beauty that cannot be replaced. In a recent e-mail, there was some indication that there will be a two-foot buffer between the road for cars and the road for bikes. That, frankly, will look awful. It is absolutely certain if this path goes forward, this narrow, ugly strip between the two roads will need to be outfitted with a steel knee guard separating the two, furthering the ruin.

The CPA regulation expressly forbids damage to vegetation, trees and fauna. The intent of the CPA legislation is conservation. Conservation of open space, conservation of communities.

A major reason the town decided not to proceed 30 years ago was safety. Another concern of the town was the matter of “taking.”

I will leave this latter matter and related legal issues to others to pursue. I do believe, however, the CPA regulations preclude expenditures for the purpose of an environmental study of this nature as well as the path. Other towns have been successfully sued for similar misuse. Open space, preservation and community housing are the major three areas intended by this legislation. After that, land for recreation, not recreational or other projects on private land and land not purchased with CPA funds. To waste $27,000-plus for an unnecessary, superfluous, second environmental study, with the current economic conditions, in my opinion, would be negligent of the CPC as well as the selectmen who oversee this committee. And possibly illegal. Fundamentally, what is lacking in the existent environmental study? Couldn’t that money be better spent to support community housing so desperately needed in Edgartown?

There is absolutely no reason for a rush to action here. The process must be totally transparent, inclusive and nonpressured. I urge Edgartown voters to soundly reject this bike path if and when it comes to a town vote.

As many have commented, we all love Chappy. That may be true; however, we each love Chappy for very different reasons. I am reminded of an editorial Russell Baker wrote for the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror in the early 1980s. He observed that so many had come to Nantucket because they all loved that other island just as it was, but then proceeded systematically to change and destroy the place with improvements, overbuilding, etc. Yes, we all love Chappy. We came here or stayed here because Chappy is something special. Let’s not destroy Chappy further; let’s leave her alone. She’s just fine the way she is.

George Mellendick



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard marks the 218th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15 with a call for civic vigilance and participation on our Island of Martha’s Vineyard. 

For 88 years, the league has worked to defend civil liberties and promote citizen engagement in democracy, and we continue this emphasis on this anniversary.  It is particularly important for Americans, especially all those who voted for the first time during this historic 2008 election season, to recognize the critical importance of protecting and honoring our most cherished constitutional rights.

Throughout the year, the local league works in our Vineyard community to protect our liberties and make the most of them by keeping voters informed with hosting forums on issues and candidates running for public office, conducting voter registration drives, and during the recent national election on Nov. 4, providing Islanders with rides to the polls. 

The protection of the individual liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights has been central to the league’s work throughout its history. During World War II, the league worked to balance the preservation of civil liberties with the importance of national security. During the Communist witch hunt period of the early 1950s, the league conducted a community education program known as the Freedom Agenda, providing Americans with the opportunity to discuss and learn about the Bill of Rights. More recently, the league has advocated against warrantless domestic surveillance, promoted an independent judiciary, and sponsored numerous education projects aimed at informing citizens of their rights. 

The Bill of Rights is not only an important part of our nation’s history, but also a living document that will guide us into the future.

Virginia Blakesley

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A few weeks ago I suffered a severe fall which resulted in a broken hip. After a few days in Tufts hospital I was sent to our own hospital for rehabilitation.

What a remarkable place!

Each room is bright and cheery.

All meals are ordered by the individual and are selected from a broad offering of choices. The servings are hearty.

The staff is unbelievable. Each person is dedicated, supportive, patient, kind, encouraging and personally attentive.

We are so blessed to have such a high quality rehabilitation unit right here on the Vineyard.

Ann Lesnikowski

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The economy might not be so wonderful, but fear not, the holiday spirit is alive and well and working in Oak Bluffs. Volunteers pitched in to help make this year’s tree lighting one of the brightest and most special events ever.

Special thanks to all who helped and most of all to jolly old Saint Nick and all of the joyful participants who made the evening into a spectacular celebration.

Renee Balter

Oak Bluffs