Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Independent book stores — while beloved by loyal fans — find it difficult to survive under the best of circumstances, no less the tragic fire that gutted Bunch of Grapes. They were one of the first stores to buy the book America according to Connor Gifford, which I co-authored with an amazing young man from Nantucket who has Down Syndrome.

Despite suffering tremendous physical and financial loss, Bunch of Grapes sent full payment for our books that were destroyed in the fire. I want to thank this wonderful store and urge the Vineyard to do all that it can to help Bunch of Grapes reopen for business. It is an Island treasure.

Victoria Harris



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a manager of a large retail chain, I do not understand why, especially if it has been a difficult season in the Vineyard Haven Main street area this year due to many factors: economy, gasoline and the fire, then why on Labor Day weekend are the stores closed at night? Friday night with my daughter we went to Mad Martha’s at 9:45 p.m.; they had closed at 9:30 p.m. They did have three employees inside cleaning up, but at least be open until 10 p.m. Business is tough enough, but there were many people that either walked or drove down to get an ice cream — which are not inexpensive these days — and found out they were closed.

The entire Main street area looked like a ghost town, yet when you go to Circuit avenue or Edgartown at that time it is usually busy. Many stores are closed in Edgartown also, with many people walking the streets and annoyed about the early closings. Don’t whine about business when there are customers that want to spend!

Peter Shumrak



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Congratulations on your article of August 29 about the algae bloom on Edgartown Great Pond. As a riparian owner we watched with dismay as up to eight inches of stinking black muck appeared in the coves of the pond. My question is this, since this event did not occur yesterday, but has been in latent preparation over the past several years, why only now are we awakening to a disaster that might have been avoided?

We have the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the Great Pond Foundation, the Ponds Area Advisory Committee and now finally the Massachusetts Estuaries Report. Yet until just now there has been hardly any airing of the subject, owners along the pond were not informed, and plans to mitigate the situation have not been proposed.

The estuaries report is excellent and useful and gives a technical basis from which to provide recommendations, but by the time it arrived the damage was already done. The need to begin to correct the situation is well past.

Many possibilities could have been implemented and should have been implemented as this crisis was mounting. After wading through the greasy deposits along the shore, it does not require a PhD to understand that we need to reduce the flow of nitrogen into the pond. Here are some logical actions that could be taken immediately:

• Currently, new installations using Title V technology will continue to add to the deterioration of the pond. The first obvious action we need is to put a moratorium on these installations and change the requirements so that all new septic installations must be nitrogen free.

• Any sales or changes of title should be accompanied by an upgrade of the septic system.

Any additions to existing structures should be required to make the upgrade.

• Put an absolute prohibition on lawn fertilizing or the use of toxic chemicals.

Frequent septic pumping will temporarily slow the emission of nitrogen, and this might be an interim solution.

• Dredging of the estuaries and other areas of environmental sensitivity, some of which is already under way, should be increased.

• Colonies of oyster culture should be established to clean the water.

• More frequent opening of the pond to the ocean should be considered.

• Finally, we should pass a law requiring all septic systems in the watershed be either upgraded or tied in with the town sewage system.

This last item must be the long term goal which will be expensive and will require much effort and time. I hope this paper continues to follow the situation of the ponds. We desperately need to make everyone aware of the problems we have created and to avoid exacerbating them any further. Yet I do not see an alternative if we want to save the pond.

Edmund Stevens



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing to express my disappointment with the Gazette story titled “Wind Turbines: Popular, Unregulated.” At its best it misleads and misrepresents, and at its worst it is just plain wrong.

Indeed wind turbines have become popular, and for good reason, but to say that they are unregulated is totally false. While there are no Islandwide regulations dealing with wind turbines, each town has its own bylaws, some specifically addressing wind turbines. And like any construction project on the Island that requires a building permit, a wind turbine is subject to bylaws regarding siting, setbacks and the overall height of the structure. This includes the town of West Tisbury where the story incorrectly asserts that there are no height restrictions. Add to the equation height restrictions imposed by the FAA on towers within a specified range of the airport. Many sites in West Tisbury would fall under this jurisdiction as have the turbine at the regional high school and the proposed turbine at the ice arena in Oak Bluffs.

What the story also fails to mention is that each of the seven small wind turbines making clean power on the Island today have been installed with the written approval of their abutters. Not only have they passed through the regulatory processes already in place in each of the individual towns but they have also been approved and continue to be supported by their neighbors living closest to them.

The favorable view and widespread approval of small wind turbines goes unmentioned in the story, which favors heavily the opinion that their increase in number will necessarily detract from the overall character of the Island. This is simply an opinion, and one that may well be in the minority. However, one is not likely to come to that conclusion after reading the story.

The story also asserts that one large turbine is better than many small turbines. By what measures? A letter to the editor is quoted which says: “Our need for green energy might justify such a degradation of the horizon if it weren’t for the fact that these mini-turbines are substantially less efficient than larger models.” The statement that multiple small wind turbines will degrade the horizon is an entirely subjective opinion, and the attempt to substantiate the benefit of favoring one large turbine by a comparison of relative efficiencies is inaccurate and misleading. Yes, utility scale turbines such as the one at Mass Maritime can produce electricity at a lower cost per kilowatt hour than residential scale turbines. However, those same residential scale turbines will produce locally generated, clean power at the same or lower cost than what their owners would pay their utility, plus the added benefit of producing their own power. By that measure the calculation of inefficiency proves irrelevant and should be considered as such in any discussion of wind turbine zoning. Never mind the fact that every kilowatt hour generated by a wind turbine is one fewer generated by a coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plant regardless of what size turbine produces it.

The debate of large versus small wind has been inaccurately portrayed as an either-or scenario where in reality it is a question of the appropriate use of each. The Island’s electrical needs are diverse and the challenge to move toward local renewable energy generation will require a variety of solutions and an intelligent, informed discussion. The Gazette story inhibits that discussion and makes the already challenging work of producing locally renewable energy even harder.

Tyler Studds

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is either amusing or sad that a simple thing like a ramp to provide beach access for older or disabled people can become a bone of contention between town leaders who are supposed to be adults working together for the good of the community.

It has always been difficult to enter the water at the Inkwell because of large numbers of rocks at the water’s edge which make for an unstable entry.

The difficulty was exacerbated this year when sand was dumped on the beach and never spread (duh!), leaving a high mound near the top of the beach, creating a steeper slope to walk down to even approach the water.

Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed there was now a wooden walkway which runs parallel to Seaview avenue along the top of the beach, which I suppose is useful since it covers most of the distance from one beach entrance to another.

But there’s no walkway or ramp leading from that one down to the beach! There is only a small (maybe 10-foot long) additional piece of ramp placed near but not really close to the water’s edge itself, sitting like an orphan, having no function whatsoever.

Hello, are you kidding? This is the access ramp for the disabled?

What should have been a no-brainer has become a political football.

Wake up, people and do it right; it’s not that difficult.

Steve Auerbach

Oak Bluffs