Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I do not understand why the Gazette has to make such sport of trying to vilify me and my family. I write in response to the Gazette editorial in the Sept. 18 edition. While it is true that my family owns almost a hundred acres of lands along the old roads that are proposed to be designated and that we wish to preserve our rights to use, at some future time, these lands just as everybody else has used these old roads to do already, you misunderstand our position, portraying us as evil, greedy opponents.
I remind you that we are nearly the last folks to not have developed these properties and have left them in a largely natural state, doing some logging in parts. The proponents and the town seem to wish to ignore the very legal basis for the designation. That is what we have opposed.
In order to lawfully designate these roads, they must be declared to be public roads, to lawfully allow the public to “enjoy” them. Otherwise, the rules would simply foment trespass, which they obviously cannot do.
Such a declaration would mean that these roads would have to now be maintained by the town so as to permit all persons to travel safely along them, opening them to all kinds of additional traffic. That would defeat the very purpose avowed for the district, and would undermine the nice rural feel of the area.
Pennywise Path and Watcha Path were historically and always have been used as cut-through roads. Middle Line Road was a shortcut from the Plains to Holmes Hole Road. A declaration they are fully public would only make more fully developed the by-pass nature.
What the proponents of this district have not told you is that it would now be easier than ever to avoid the Triangle and Upper Main street snarl by cutting through to the West Tisbury Road. That is one central point that has been pressed by me, as you call me an “opponent.”
I trust your desire to regulate these old roads would never have comprehended the disastrous consequences of the very designation you seemed so pressed to rush into effect. The town has resisted this very result since the planning board, in anticipating Pennywise becoming a real paved town road in the mid-1970s, allowed dozens of lots to be developed along the way.
The new homes were built and these folks became instant conservationists wishing to prevent the improvements that were contemplated in letting them build in the first place. The town succumbed to the wishes of the new residents. The triangle got developed without the relief valve that the 1970s planning board had planned in urging the town to open up the new uptown B-2 district. Look where that bit got us.
What we have here is a failure to plan, based on some sort of pressing desire to rush this unwise proposal through the process. Pennywise has been gradually improved over the years by the residents of the road, to no dismay of anyone, so that emergency vehicles could access the homes, the very reason we all pay real estate taxes.
How come any similar work that might occur to these other old roads, all of sudden, becomes “verboten?” That is what concerns me, as well as the existing language of the current special ways by-law that would forbid even the most modest of maintenance of the road bed, leaving it to completely degrade over time to the point of non-use. How dangerous would that be for everyone.
I guess that would be in line with the aim of returning these ways to ancient history, to let them grow back in and out of existence. Folks are rushing to judgment without understanding the devil is in the details. I urge everyone to be much more thoughtful than they have been until now about the consequences of any sort of designation.
As private roads, while the rights remain for adjacent land owners to gradually improve these old roads, the nature of the ways is more likely to be generally preserved to enhance the value of the properties.
No one wants these to become highway shortcuts. The public road designation should be stopped.
Benjamin L. Hall Jr.
PROTECT ANCIENT WAYS
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was addressed to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission:
We are writing this letter to you to express our strong desire to protect these ancient ways and designate them as a District of Critical Planning Concern. Our primary concern is Middle Line Path, Tar Kiln Path and Pennywise Path, as our subdivision, Edgartown Meadows, is bounded by the middle of Middle Line Path and Middle Line Path connects to the other paths.
There is no doubt about the historical significance of these paths as they are mentioned by these names in the 1739 proprietor set-off records. These paths are heavily used by many members of the public for walking, biking and other recreational activities.
Recently an individual with significant land holdings in the area hired a contractor to cut down many trees along Middle Line path and has converted a once five-foot-wide semi-overgrown path to a now nine-foot-wide cleared path easily passable by vehicular traffic. The contractor hired to do this work told us he was hired to clear a path, remove the loam and put down hardener. All this work was commenced without any prior survey work done by this individual and without any prior notice given to our association or any other owner that abuts this path. The contractor voluntarily stopped cutting trees when we approached him and told him that this was an ancient way, and that any individual’s rights to improve this path were currently in dispute.
It is quite possible, given this individual’s land holdings in this area, that if these paths are not protected, and it is permissible for this individual and others to continue clearing and improving these paths, very likely it will soon be possible for vehicles to travel from the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road through our neighborhood and other neighborhoods along these paths to the West Tisbury Road.
We hope you will all strongly consider this application. Thank you.
Cathy C. Lewis
SERVICE AT ANCHORS
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
September is National Senior Center Month, a time to acknowledge and thank the many seniors and their families for their continued support.
Currently there are 1,201 residents over 60 years old in Edgartown compared to 1,061 last year and only 874 five years ago. This past year over 448 residents over 60 years old attended our Edgartown programs or used our services such as our popular Friday Café, Mens’ and Womens’ Breakfast, delicious soups, social trips off-Island, cooking classes, classes at Featherstone Center for the Arts, clambakes, foot clinic, massage, yoga, pilates, educational programs on healthy aging, knitting, rug hooking, mah jong, memoir writing, antique appraisal, dinner and movie nights, jazz series, legal help, health insurance counseling, health screening, caregiver support, one-on-one counseling, meals on wheels, free bass and bluefish, book group, wheel chair and medical equipment loans, free transportation services, and so much more. We provided home visits to 72 individuals, 57 family members received assistance and 187 seniors from other towns attended our programs.
Where do we go from here? As new generations begin to redefine retirement and positive aging, there is a growing focus on wellness, meaningful work experiences and volunteerism.
When it comes to finding tools for staying healthy and involved or needing information, The Anchors senior center is an excellent place to start. We will continue to connect Edgartown residents with meaningful volunteer opportunities, increase access to valuable benefits and resources, expand our partnerships to provide even more educational opportunities, offer a wide range of wellness programs, and even trips around the world.
We hope you plan to attend one of our programs or just stop by for a cup of coffee with some friends and enjoy the beautiful view. If there is a program you want or a service we are not providing, please let us know. The Anchors is a reflection of your ideas, wishes, and program choices. We hope The Anchors evolves to reflect a more empowered vision of aging and we want to involve the entire community in helping to pave the way for the future of the center.
We thank the selectmen for their continued support, the Edgartown Council on Aging board of directors for their visits and advocacy, the Friends of the Edgartown Council on Aging for all their fund-raising efforts, and to every resident 60 years and older for your talents, generosity, guidance and dedication.
This year, stop by, get involved and make The Anchors your center of it all.
PARTY FOR A CAUSE
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I am writing to invite all your readers to come celebrate the end of summer by attending the Vineyard Committee on Hunger fundraiser and party at Outerland on Sunday, Sept. 30 starting at 7 p.m. The committee helps support the Island Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, and hunger charities worldwide.
We want everyone to have fun, so disc jockey Steve McCullough will play music for your dancing pleasure. Outerland will have food and drinks available, and in between dinner and dancing you can bid (via silent auction) on an amazing array of services, gift certificates, and wonderful things from the Island’s best artists and shops.
Our generous donors have contributed beautiful jewelry, photographs, and art work. We also have Cape Air tickets, suites and rooms at Island hotels and bed and breakfast establishments, and dinners at several great restaurants.
An Island electrician has donated three hours of electrical work, and Vern Laux has offered a private bird watching tour for 10 people. We also have a private tour of Polly Hill Arboretum, two weeks at a local health club, and gift baskets galore.
To nurture your creative side, you might want to bid on an art class or writing workshop. And of course there are toys and clothes for the kids and grandkids.
If you have any questions, want to donate goods or services, or are interested in tickets ($20 in advance, $25 at the door), please call Carole Early at 508-693-7914 or Jeri Dantzig at 508-696-0874.
Ellen Miller Eisenberg
THANKS FOR HARD WORK
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I am writing this letter to thank the Tisbury Department of Public Works, selectmen, P& P Construction and the many others who have worked so hard to make our town so beautiful with new sidewalks, curbs, ramps and other graceful designs that draw us to our downtown area.
I also want to thank them for their thoughtfulness toward those of us who need to have access for wheelchairs and ease of walking. What may seem inconsequential to many of us, is a matter of great importance to a few of us. I personally, spend a lot of time downtown and I really appreciate the hard work and the changes that have made my travel in my wheelchair a lot safer and much more enjoyable.