Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The decision of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance, Nonnie Burns, to reject the FAIR Plan’s proposed increase in homeowner’s insurance rates for policies on Cape Cod and the Islands is a stunning and welcome victory for fair play, common sense, and for the thousands of Cape and Island homeowners who have seen their policies cancelled and their rates balloon over the past few years, all based on specious industry-driven predictions of our region’s likely exposure to major hurricane damage.

It is also proof that citizen activism works. Paula Aschettino and the group she organized, Citizens for Homeowners Insurance Reform, have been relentless in debunking the insurance industry’s case for exorbitant rate increases on Cape Cod. This victory belongs largely to them. They deserve the thanks of every Cape Codder.

Eric Turkington


Mr. Turkington is the state representative for the Cape and Islands district.

Bradley Alternatives

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am a close neighbor of the Bradley Square project and have recently talked to some very disgruntled Dukes County avenue residents.

What strikes me is that, contrary to what is often the case with 40B projects, no one seems to be rejecting the affordable housing aspect. They are merely questioning some of the designs and motives, and wondering if all options have been contemplated. This seems quite reasonable considering the significant impact this project will have on the neighborhood.

It is unfortunate that their concerns are being decried or ignored. The project’s propositions are impressive (affordable housing, community space, historic preservation, African-American heritage, promotion of the arts), but just using labels to shortcut the democratic process and steamroll over legitimate inquiries and concerns is dubious at best.

Rather than boosting outright antagonism and tainting a project that could be a model of consensus and creativity, wouldn’t it be preferable to allow a healthy debate in which difficult questions are permitted, real answers are provided, and alternatives are given due consideration?

Apparently the arts district has no historical, legal or official existence and basically is a clever name coined to drive the seasonal crowd to a handful of shops on Dukes County avenue.

Why does a public interest project like Bradley Square seem to promote what is essentially a private venture? Is it fair to let a few control the development of a street without consideration for other residents and business owners? It is stated that arts district representatives will even determine the allocation of four affordable units; on what grounds?

On less than half an acre, the Bradley Square project proposes to construct two 48-by-48-foot three-story buildings and an additional two-story community center with roughly the same footprint. This density has no equivalent in the neighborhood, leaves little room for parking, green areas, porches or common spaces and condemns 20 of the 27 trees currently on the land.

If it is the role of the various town boards to ensure that renovations and new constructions do not unreasonably alter the character of a neighborhood, how can they justify such an obvious mismatch? Have other designs been evaluated, such as opening up the site to allow more common spaces and trees by splitting up the massive structures into several buildings? Sufficient parking is usually a primary requirement; why doesn’t that seem to be important in this case? Knowing that the approval of this design will set a precedent, won’t that open the door to more three-story blocks filling Dukes County avenue?

The historic preservation of the Bradley Memorial Church as part of this project has been much publicized. A closer look at the plans shows that after being moved, beheaded and gutted, the old building will be flanked and topped with new additions, leading to a result that bears little resemblance with the original church.

If only a few walls and a name will be preserved, does this really qualify as historic preservation?

Bradley Square includes two market rate units and ten affordable housing units, four of which will be allocated to artists.

Will the affordable housing units be awarded to Oak Bluffs residents? Is the decision to allocate forty per cent of the units to artists founded on an analysis of Oak Bluffs housing needs? On what basis will candidates qualify as artists? Will there be a special artist lottery for the allocation of these four units?

The four affordable-rate ground-floor units reserved for artists are referred to as live/work studios. Each unit has storefront windows facing the street and is essentially one large room with a kitchen. The studios will be open for business during the summer months.

Doesn’t that amount to subsidizing retail spaces? If the goal of affordable housing is to promote year-round communities, wouldn’t it be preferable to reserve the storefronts for year-round businesses? Wouldn’t it make more sense (financially and administratively) to sell the retail spaces at market rate and maintain all the apartments as affordable units?

Yann Meersseman

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have been living in the neighborhood of the proposed Bradley Square project for over 30 years. I am opposed to this project because of the size of the added buildings. If the buildings were downsized to blend with the area and contain their needs it would be more acceptable.

I am greatly offended by remarks made about my neighborhood. Some of the statements about this area are recreations of events which occurred many years ago. I do know that in my 30 years of living in this neighborhood a drug raid did happen and became history. There has never been a flop house. There are no rented shacks with no running water, and the insensitivity to an unfortunate death as well as the above-listed statements serve no good purpose except to upset a peaceful neighborhood.

Stephen W. Lewis

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Joseph G. Moujabber has put forward a plan to replace his infamous Garage Mahal with a massive extension, larger and more intrusive than the illegal structure it was supposedly designed to ameliorate. Michael Vhay, Mr. Moujabber’s attorney, has suggested that the new plan would satisfy neighbors and town regulations. On both counts, we believe Mr. Vhay is incorrect.

In a historic district characterized by modest, single family bungalows with gracious front porches, Mr. Moujabber now proposes to double the size of his house, adding a suburban-style, multiple vehicle garage and parking pad, two outdoor decks and a looming, three-story tower that appears to have been designed more as a bargaining chip than an architectural feature. Incredibly, this has been presented by Mr. Moujabber as a compromise.

Your editorial referred to the tower as a sore thumb. We actually see it as more of a gigantic middle finger directed at Mr. Moujabber’s neighbors, the town of Oak Bluffs and the Island as a whole. Even without the absurdly inappropriate tower, Moujabber’s planned addition violates a long list of Copeland Plan, Cottage City Historic District and zoning regulations. The neighbors, needless to say, are not satisfied. It is now up to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to come up with a forceful and decisive response to Mr. Moujabber’s latest architectural gesture.

We look to the commission to do the right thing. The future of the historic North Bluff depends on it. If Mr. Moujabber is allowed to build his McMansion there will be nothing to stop any other home owner in the neighborhood from doing the same.

Aaron Naparstek

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Officials declared the burning of Noman’s Land this week a controlled burn. Controlled burn? Environmental terrorists burned the whole Island up. The only controlling factor was the surrounding water. In 1948 an aircraft carrier sat off the south coast of Martha’s Vineyard and shelled Noman’s Land night and day. A lot of those shells were four inches in diameter. Some have come out of the eroding coastal cliff having penetrated the ground at least six feet. Those shells can’t be cleaned up — certainly not by frost heaves and surface burning.

In April 1971 I seized Noman’s Land with some other people and posted it with this sign:

“Warning. This federal land known as Noman’s Land, an island off the Southeast coast of Massachusetts, approximately 600 acres in size, has been seized by Kenneth M. Jones until the waging of war and war games by the USA has stopped and the energies of the U.S. Military are refocused on humanitarian pursuits.

“The users of this island are hereby warned not to bomb or play ruinous games which damage the tranquility of Noman’s Land.

“Failure to comply with the above will result in the scorn and detestation of the entire civilized world for the United States of America.”

Maybe the name of the island is significant. No man. Perhaps we could call it Woman’s Land, after the kinder, gentler part of our species and peaceful men could support that.

P.S. It would be nice if the Navy could figure out which way the wind blows relative to the Vineyard. They’re 180 degrees off in the article in the Gazette. Kenneth M. Jones.

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Last Wednesday evening, I had pleasure of attending the spring All-Island Band concert for grades 4 to 8. Beginning students, those who have played for a few years and seasoned jazz performers all took the stage, to the delight of parents and friends.

Fabulous teaching has yielded impressive results. I thank Mrs. Schilling, Mr. Tileston and Mrs. Chapman for their dedication, talents and efforts. As I discovered that evening, the All-Island Band has been part of every school for over 40 years. I left the concert with a sense of shared pride and yet concern for the future.

All instrumental band programs at the Oak Bluffs School will be eliminated if the upcoming override does not pass. As we in Oak Bluffs head to the polls on May 28, I ask you to support this instrumental program with a yes vote for the Oak Bluffs school override. It will be the second question on your ballot.

Lisa Reagan

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Vineyard Village at Home has received a generous grant from the Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha’s Vineyard, which will provide scholarships for prospective members. We are a Vineyard nonprofit organization which works cooperatively with Island Councils on Aging, Elder Services, Vineyard Nursing Association and other organizations to help people age 55 and older maintain their homes and lifestyles.

Both this scholarship fund and the board’s recent decision to offer charter member rates at half the regular annual membership rate, effective through Sept. 30, will make it more affordable for people to join. Members can make one call to our program coordinator Jane Hawke to ask for any service that is needed: plumbers, carpenters, trash collectors, window washers, furniture movers, etc. Service providers have promised to respond quickly to the requests and to give a discount from their normal rate to our members. In addition, we have a corps of volunteers who will drive our members to church or synagogue, plays, movies, to friends’ homes or restaurants for dinner, the grocery store, etc. and, of course, take them home again.

Thanks to the Permanent Endowment Fund and the generous support of our board, most people can afford to take advantage of this service. For more information, call Jane Hawkes at 508-693-3038 or visit our Web site at

Polly Brown

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In this particular instance I am not nuts, i.e. horses. I grew up at Tashmoo Farm with Elsie MacLaughlan and Libby Belden where never a voice nor whip was raised to an animal. I am also certified with the British Horse Society. In other words, I know horses. I won’t waste your time explaining the proper technique for training the equines but one thing is sure — their bodies are not developed until at least three years of age and then it’s for gentle riding. Never do they run at full tilt for a mile and a quarter. They’ll frolic or run from danger.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Massachusetts has a penalty of $2,500 and up to five years in prison for mistreating an animal — it depends on the courts as to how said is handed down. Under the Massachusetts General Law 272, Section 77: “Uses cruel or inhuman manner in a race, game or contest . . . ” A person can get aforementioned for whipping a dog. Please answer me this, oh loving society of you horse racers — note, I do not refer to you as horsemen, how can you get away with mounting an undeveloped and loving animal and whip it to its death?

Oh, silly me. I forgot. This is part of the American society at its most revolting where money talks, nobody walks. I hope your bank accounts are bursting at their seams as yet another of your victims lies dying with a broken heart. Did you see the sadness and confusion in Eight Bells’ eyes before they killed her? “Why did you do that? I trusted you. You whipped me until my body broke , now you’re murdering me as I lie in the dirt. I wish I had known a daisy-filled meadow just once.”

Trina E. Kingsbury