Editors, Vineyard Gazette

We live on Sengekontacket Pond, on property that has been in our family for decades and is sentimental to us. Over the years we have removed pine trees from our property on Sengekontacket and a parcel across the street, by request of neighbors, to open up their views. One neighbor offered and we received compensation in the form of refinished oak floors in my dad’s house and the other neighbor, well, never even offered a thank you.

Early this year, our new neighbors whom we like very much, had their property surveyed and apparently the surveyors inadvertently flagged a portion of our property with stakes marked as a view easement. This was very disturbing to us since we knew there is no view easement over our property. When something like this happens, you get a knot in your stomach and probably won’t sleep well at night thinking, now what do I do?

After a distressing day, Bill called our neighbors suggesting that there is no view easement over our property and never will be. They apologized, asking us to leave the stakes there until they came to the Island and they would remove them, which they did. In another area in Ocean Heights within the past week my property was trespassed upon with large machinery. This property is posted No Trespassing. Bill’s lot next to it was partially stripped. We were not informed of this error until our son asked us what was going on there. We went to the lot and found Bill’s trees missing, the lot stripped and called the police. About a week after the incident, we finally received a call from the culprit admitting to his error. Mistakes happen, but how do you replace mature woodlands?

After reading your article regarding the Payettes inability to meet with the selectmen regarding their trees blocking the Tashmoo overlook, I must admit we sympathize with the feelings the Payettes must have regarding their property. The Payettes probably broke no laws when their trees were planted. These trees could have been planted by a now-deceased family member, marked a pet grave, are sentimental to them or perhaps have simply been great shade trees which they have enjoyed for many years. Imagine how you would feel if the town wanted to cut beautiful trees that you loved from your land. Who would be happy about this? If the town uses the Wetland Protection Act setting a precedent, will they single out the Payettes or enforce the laws uniformly throughout the town? What a can of worms this will open! The lawyers will be busy for years. How many other scenic vistas have been overgrown in the last one hundred years by trees on private property and what should be done about them? Start looking for old photos, perhaps you could wind up with a water view.

We too have enjoyed the view on many occasions but we do not feel the town should single out the Payettes for our pleasure. This is still America. We have the right to peacefully enjoy our property. We hope you can enjoy your property.

Also, please note that the Island Affordable Housing and elderly Housing house raffle is not the first on the Island. The so-called innovation was accomplished many years ago by me to benefit the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Give me a call and invite me to a meeting. No need to reinvent the wheel; been there, done that and can be invaluable with help and information. Still have a box full of everything pertaining to the house raffle including Gazette and Martha’s Vineyard Times articles.

Lynne Macomber



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the Tisbury planning board’s letter to the editor published August 8 titled Public Protest.

They were commenting on story headlined Police Order War Protesters to Move. Their letter written on Tisbury town stationery was knowingly and willfully using the power of their position to approve of and encourage citizens to violate federal laws concerning protesting and demonstrating on post office grounds at Five Corners.

The planning board states it was disappointed to learn that the peaceful protesters were forbidden to use the post office grounds at Five Corners for a demonstration last week. It also say that if anyone wants to communicate their interests or opinions to the rest of the community this is the place to do it. What kind of comment and suggestion is that? Some of us take offense to such illegal in-your-face activities and actions in areas where they are well aware that they are not to use; for the planning board to condone and encourage this is totally unacceptable.

The board admits that in the future, ownership of that corner plaza is to be transferred to the town, but for now it is federal property. I must also add that the peaceful protesters did not leave so peacefully. The police from Tisbury and personnel from the state highway department both told them they were violating federal and state law, as they were also blocking the sidewalk with their boots display; state police were on their way. It took quite some time to convince them to pack up their signs, flyers, handouts, boots and leave.

How can the elected Tisbury planning board possibly encourage this behavior? Actually I know how, but I would just say the planning board should be advised that its radical left wing political agenda does not trump federal and state law, nor does it allow board members to violate their oath of office concerning enforcement of all laws local, state and federal, not to mention using town stationery to do it.

If I remember correctly a number of years ago a Tisbury selectman wrote the President of the United States expressing his political views on certain issues; the letter was written on Tisbury town stationary and he was given a good public spanking.

I think another public spanking is in order here along with a public apology to those like me whom you have publicly offended by your actions.

Woody Williams

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The state fire marshal’s office says the minimum road width for the fire equipment is 18 feet. Dukes County avenue is 33 feet wide. Eight feet is subtracted for parking on one side, four feet is subtracted for snow plowing (two feet per side). This leaves only 21 feet, so the addition of sidewalks will bring the road width down to 16 feet if a five-foot sidewalk is installed.

On Dukes County avenue 33 feet minus 8 feet equals 25 feet, minus 4 feet (2 feet each side for snow, equals 21 feet, minus 5 feet for a sidewalk equals 16 remaining road width which is too narrow for fire access.

Dukes County avenue is already too narrow and congested during art strolls for public safety considering its importance as the primary fire access to the Camp Ground and Circuit avenue. The fire on Main street Vineyard Haven on the Fourth of July should be looked upon as a warning that though not likely, the worst things happen when least expected. Planning for the unexpected is supposed to be the province of planners, fire professionals, police departments and other public safety professionals paid for by the taxpayer. For these people to ignore reality and bow to political pressure by special interests is unconscionable and irresponsible.

Throughout my lifetime the most discussed and greatest fear in the town of Oak Bluffs has always been whether a fire in the Camp Ground could be put out before it becomes uncontrollable. The risks involved in looking the other way from the overdevelopment and subsequent parking abuse of the neighborhoods around Bradley Square creates a completely avoidable public safety hazard. The public should take note of all those responsible for this hazard from the public safety officials who are not doing their jobs to the proponents who care only about their income to the private nonprofits and their bank that supports this project. The bottom line is that at a minimum the function hall aspect of this project must be deleted.

Shame on them.

Donald N. Muckerheide

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to thank all the people who helped plan an Island-wide gathering in honor of Cape and Islands Rep. Eric T. Turkington. Eric is stepping down from his position as state representative for Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties after 20 years of service.

We are inviting the entire Vineyard community to join us at the agricultural hall for a finger food pot luck on Sunday, Sept. 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. to show our appreciation to Eric. The party is not a fund-raiser or a political event of any kind, just a thank-you to Eric. We are hoping that community members will write letters to Eric congratulating him and send them to me at P.O. Box 1411 in Edgartown, prior to the party, so that we can compile them into a book that will provide a keepsake of his many years serving the Vineyard.

Eric’s efforts have benefited our community in several ways. He has provided constituent services, helping Vineyarders navigate state agencies. He has also assisted local governmental agencies with their communications to state departments regarding grant compliance and regulation issues. Possibly the most important, Eric has provided support and direction to local organizations when they have been working through the governmental grant application process which resulted in several Vineyard organizations receiving significant funding.

I commend all those individuals who are dedicated enough to enter public life in service of their local community, state or country since the commitments are great and the rewards can be few. Elected officials often surrender much of their private lives to public scrutiny. The election cycle for a state representative is demanding; Eric had to run for reelection every two years. Our American representative democracy is predicated on the premise that there are good people who are willing to serve.

We are truly blessed to have the privilege of living on this beautiful Island that sustains us and in return we should be sure that we give our elected officials, who devote their precious time and energy to serving us, the public acknowledgment of appreciation they so well deserve.

Rhonda Cohen



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This year, I draw a line in the asphalt: I love the elegant dance at five corners, but I will no longer yield to drivers talking on cell phones. Will continue to do so for harried mothers, truckers, buses, rusty VWs, confused tourists et al.

You have been warned.

Christopher Gray