Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We were eager and honored to have our camp included in this year’s Vineyard summer camp round up (“Kids Are All Right With So Many Island Camps,” June 3.) And while it’s exciting to see such an artful lead photograph depicting a young and talented skateboarder, we were disappointed to find the content of the photograph and caption below to be irresponsibly misleading.

For the record, the photograph published was not taken during a session of M.V. Skate Camp, and the subject is not a registered camper. All M.V. Skate Camp campers are required to wear helmets at all times, and additional safety gear (such as elbow and knee pads) is strongly recommended.

Ensuring camper safety and promoting safe and considerate conduct on the park are top priorities at camp; requiring (and, when necessary, providing) safety equipment without exception is only the beginning of our commitment to creating a safe and nurturing environment for campers learning to skate.

As for the online caption, “Scare Your Parents Camp,” we invite any parents (and Gazette editorial staff) interested in learning more about Skate Camp to contact us and stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Skate Park while camp is in session. Since we were also saddened to be excluded from the sidebar listing of camp contacts, we will provide the information here.

Martha’s Vineyard Skate Camp, weekly sessions from 7/11 to 8/26, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.,,

Happy summer to all and see you at the skate park!

Alexandra Bullen



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Sauntering down North Water street, I couldn’t help but notice the historic Captain Warren House next to the Edgartown Library. I recalled the wonderful family memories I experienced when it housed guests like me luxuriating among the magnificent flower gardens and the other pristine captains’ houses lining Edgartown harbor.

I took pause to marvel at the now dilapidated, paint-peeling, wood-rotting and leaking, overgrown eyesore and felt very sad. Then, something else caught my eye. A family of sparrows peered at me from a hollowed-out cave of dry rot above the stair stoop. The cute little birds started singing joyfully and a Vineyard epiphany hit me like a bolt of Katama lightning. The Captain Warren Inn is a $3.5 million birdhouse! Who would have had the foresight, other than Edgartown’s town government way back in September 2004, to invest in such a lovely home for our dear feathered friends?

A petty feeling came over me when I selfishly thought about how many meals on wheels for the elderly or the dozen or so affordable houses the town could have acquired for $3.5 million. I also felt ashamed when my mind’s eye envisioned how many library books, pencils, teacher salaries, police vehicles, harbor master electronics and trips to Disney World that mega sum of tax-payers dollars could have purchased.

Yet the sparrows were indeed happy living the good life. Thank goodness the hardworking people of Edgartown used to have a town government for the birds. Today, I am willing to bet that no other community is more tolerant or generous than the good folks of Edgartown. This philanthropy also includes the sparrow family who share their comfy digs with rats, skunks, moles, mice and rabbits. Just imagine these cute critters nesting atop Claire Murray carpets and oriental rugs. How lovely.

I am awestruck that the residents of North Water street have accepted the degradation of their neighborhood to provide a home for its endearing sparrows. If I may be so bold, please consider a fresh coat of white paint upon the birdhouse entrance. Bless you!

Paul Mellen



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The change at the four-way stop, formerly the blinker, on the back road to a round-about rotary has caused much controversy. This surprises no one as we have a much-deserved stubborn resistance to change. What is worth noting is that all the discussion focuses on rearranging the disposition, size, direction and shape of the travel lanes in and out of the intersection. Considering all the factors, none of this will contribute meaningful or long-lasting improvement. Why? For the simple reason that our Island has 140 miles of paved roads (a guess) and 250 miles of regularly used unpaved roads (also a guess) but an ever-increasing number of cars, trucks and buses using them. This unbalanced equation can only lead to more traffic and deteriorating ability to control. Any true solution must include some or all of the following elements:

• Every ticket sold for a commercial conveyance to the Vineyard should entitle the bearer to 24 hours use of the VTA system.

• Children under 16 should ride free all year.

• Seniors 62 to 70 should pay half price all year; seniors over 70 should ride free all year.

• From May 15 to Sept. 15 the scheduled ferry boats can only transport to the Vineyard the number of cars that they transported in the previous 24 hours, except voting residents who would still benefit from the excursion privilege.

• Bicycles accompanied by their riders get free passage both ways all year.

• The VTA and the superintendent of schools office coordinate and arrange that students are transported on scheduled VTA buses. (Students with special needs require special service).

• Private, noncommercial vehicles to the Vineyard are charged according to size and yes, gas mileage. Longer, bigger, thirsty costs more.

• The money to be devoted to the rotary construction would inaugurate a fund to continue and complete the Island bike path system.

• Money saved from abandoning the school bus transport outlay would allow program improvements and student enrichment.

• Cyclists would wear helmets.

• Each town’s commercial center would create a pedestrian sector accessible by VTA from satellite parking areas.

Of course the local and regional government entities would find much to oppose, but we who live here can recognize that before choking on gridlock and airborne pollutants, our future lies not in the hands of traffic-flow engineers but clearly within our willingness to embrace constructive positive change.

Kirk Briggs

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Verizon has done it again. Each year Verizon tweaks their annual directory to make it a little less user-friendly, but this year they have really gone beyond absurd. The 2011 edition arrived with no directory at all, just advertisers! Advertisers have always paid a price to have their ads at the back of the directory we all use to find one another but now — no directory. Who would want just a list of businesses willing to pay to be on said list? Throw the damn thing away and if you know a local business owner tell him or her it is time to find a new way to reach the Island population.

Chris Murphy



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission land use planning committee.

Thank you for considering regulation of very large houses through the DRI checklist, a priority land-use concern of both the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) and MVC for some years. Because the VCS position has been mischaracterized in recent public comment, we state it again here for the record: This is a regional issue and the regional planning agency should regulate it. In the absence of development guidelines, very large houses are proliferating all over the Island at an alarming rate. Now is the time to get a handle on it. Only the MVC, with its special trans-zoning powers, can provide the necessary consistency, structure, and guidelines to do justice to this problem. The towns’ limited authority to regulate in the area of single family houses makes them understandably anxious to take it on.

VCS is not saying that very large houses cannot be built. We are simply saying that where owners have a right to build on their land, the visual and natural resource impacts should not overwhelm the site. In our limited Island context, we must find ways to consider factors like energy use, seasonal use, habitat destruction, and overfertilization of large manicured lawns that pose risks to our ponds.

This can be a win-win proposition. At the first LUPC meeting on this issue, the comment was made that many applicants obliged to go through the DRI process report that their projects are the better for it. We’re persuaded that this will be the case with large house review. We can report our own experience with property owners who built very larger houses and later stated that, had they “understood the Vineyard better,” they would have adjusted their projects to be smaller and smarter. With guidelines in place, landowners and their agents will achieve that understanding and be spared unnecessary time and expense. While we acknowledge the importance of public vetting of an issue like this, we feel that the format for discussion has thus far not been productive in focusing on the issues involved and the strategies for addressing them. In future sessions, we hope that a more tightly-developed agenda could speak to these issues.

The issues and strategies we are interested in include, for example:

• Resource use. Every new house could be entitled to a certain allocation of energy use, and perhaps wastewater and materials use as well. Exceeding it would trigger an offset/mitigating requirement.

• Visual impacts. Visibility standards could be weighed based on criteria like angle of view. In our recent verbal testimony we cited the idea that no house seen from a public road or public water body should present more than a certain angle-wide visual impact.

• Existing condition analysis. Existing patterns of building height, size, setbacks in the DRI applicant’s particular neighborhood could be quantified in order to define what is out of place with the context.

• MVC/town regulatory relationship. A sliding scale could identify regulatory categories, for example one, okay to proceed as-of-right, two, project requires special review at town level through ZBA special permit process, three, referral to MVC.

• Size triggers. Size thresholds for regulatory review developed in coordination with the town could also use sliding scales. For example, any development bigger than a certain number of square feet requires a town ZBA special permit; anything bigger than a certain square footage must go to MVC unless ZBA reviews and confirms that quantifiable criteria have been met in the areas of energy use, wastewater nitrogen mitigation, visual and habitat impacts; anything bigger than a set square footage will always go to the MVC.

We do feel that this periodic DRI checklist revision process offers a great opportunity to bring necessary regional guidance to the large house development issue. We see it as just one subset of the broader themes articulated in the Island Plan that can and should be pursued using the DRI power. For example, regulatory review could encompass not just large house impacts, but other open-space impacts triggers, including scenic values; regardless of house size, there should be automatic DRI referral within 100 feet of major roads and identified scenic vistas unless mitigating criteria are met, such as 50-foot no-cut zones, split-rail fencing only, roof heights 35 feet for gabled, 25 feet for flat roofs. There are also super-core habitat areas; any development within the most critical natural habitat areas should trigger review. There is agricultural potential; any development impacting prime farm soils, existing open fields and permanently protected agricultural preservation restriction (APR) lands should trigger review.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to a thorough discussion of these and other issues in the near future.

Brendan O’Neill

West Tisbury

Bruce Rosinoff


Mr. O’Neill is executive director of the Vineyard Conservation Society; Mr. Rosinoff is on the VCS board.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Why not keep obituaries in one section? Necrology is sacred and warranted, but depressing. Thank you for considering this format.

Betty Kogen

Westport, Conn.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The first annual all-Island eighth grade graduation party was held at Nectar’s on Friday, May 20, organized by the parent-teacher organizations representing the Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, West Tisbury and Charter schools and funded by the Dukes County deputy sheriff’s association. The event was a huge success. The Minnesingers started off the evening with a short performance, then John Fiorito, high school guidance counselor, welcomed the eighth graders as the upcoming class of 2015. The students were treated to Flatbread’s delicious pizza and spent the evening dancing to the music of deejay Darren Belisle.

In addition to the deputy sheriffs, Flatbread, Mr. Belisle and the Minnesingers, the organizers would like to thank the following for their support in making the event possible: Stop and Shop, the Vineyard Youth Task Force, Bonnie Deitz (cake-maker extraordinaire), the Toy Box, Edgartown Cinemas, John Fiorito and parent chaperones.

Karin Nelson

Vineyard Haven