Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When we arrived in Aquinnah in mid-July, I noticed a substantial growth of green algae in the Herring Creek area of Menemsha Pond. The articles describing the algae problems in Edgartown Great Pond paint a picture much like what I observed, including the diminution of the algae later on in August.

I suspect the problems described in your articles may be Island-wide and not just confined to the Edgartown Great Pond. It’s time for all of us to start thinking about solutions.

David Salkever



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Wind turbines are far from unregulated on Martha’s Vineyard.

To date every wind turbine that has been installed on the Island has gone to the zoning board of appeals for public hearing and site review in their respective towns. Most had multiple hearings and site review. The only towns on the Island that allow wind turbines by right are Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury but there are strict zoning regulations in place in both towns. West Tisbury does in fact regulate the height of a turbine by its proximity to the property line. Personal experience with the work involved in getting five wind turbines successfully permitted on the Island has given me an in-depth education in regulations. Getting a permit to construct a wind turbine no matter how small is not an easy task in any town on Martha’s Vineyard. This doesn’t even take into account the strict rules, requirements and inspections required to receive a rebate from the MTC nor the rules regulations and inspections required by NSTAR.

Also, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission has discussed the issue of regional wind turbine regulations and in fact includes wind turbines in a draft DRI checklist written Dec. 10, 2007 and a summary of proposed changes to the checklist dated Dec. 12, 2007.

A wind turbine is a very practical method of generating electricity on site. Much more practical than stripping coal from a mountaintop in West Virginia, shipping it by truck to a barge which is sailed through our pristine waters to Brayton Point and burning that coal to boil water which makes steam which turns a generator, then transporting that electricity on wires to the Island by which time 60 per cent of the electricity is lost in the transmission.

To generate clean renewable electricity for one’s own use on site at a lower rate than can be purchased from NSTAR simply makes sense. It is a good investment, an investment where fewer dollars are exported from the Island.

To say that we shouldn’t install small wind turbines because they are less efficient than large wind turbines is simply an opinion. If that were the case we would all be riding bikes by order of town bylaw; after all it is a more efficient means of transportation. When a small wind turbine can make electricity for a home at a rate lower than can be purchased elsewhere, it is simply more efficient.

Some say that we should be putting up larger machines and not allow these small turbines. Some of these people are the same ones saying we shouldn’t put up one big cell tower but we should have a distributed antennae system. Using the same logic, smaller turbines are less intrusive than larger turbines.

There are in fact seven modern operating grid-tied small wind turbines on Martha’s Vineyard right now. Most of these can be only seen from select vantage points. I doubt that many Islanders have even seen all of them. It took four years to install those seven. At that rate it will be 50 years before we have one hundred turbines on the Island. Add to that the fact that good wind turbine sites are not as easy to come by as people suggest and at some point the rate will slow. Less than one one-hundredth of one per cent of the year-round population own or plans to construct a wind turbine.

Without naming names, I recently heard of one summer resident who after being notified of the public hearing and given information about the installation of a wind turbine in his neighborhood, was appalled and shocked at what he saw in his view when he arrived for the summer. This summer resident has since come to accept and enjoy the view of the very same wind turbine that appalled him only two months ago. For most I think it’s simply a matter of seeing something new and that it may take time to adjust.

To respond to concerns about a proliferation of 100-foot towers in Aquinnah, the fact is you wouldn’t need a 100-foot tower because as Ms. Rose said, the tree line is low and everything is open. There are many sites in Aquinnah that could have a small wind turbine on a shorter tower with no detriment to the scenic vistas of the town. As we all know, nothing gets built in Aquinnah without a review.

We need to produce clean energy locally. The Island plan recommends we obtain as much renewable energy as possible. Islanders will need to explore all avenues in order to do this. Small wind will play a necessary and effective role. Community wind could and should play a larger role. Regulations exist and they may need some tweaking but wind turbines on Martha’s Vineyard are very regulated and not very popular.

Gary Harcourt

Oak Bluffs

Gary Harcourt is the owner of Great Rock Windpower, which builds wind turbines on the Island.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The August 12 issue of the Gazette — containing its lovely and insightful editorial paean to dirt roads — came in the mail on the same day, ironically, that I received word of yet another attempt to gain support on Chappaquiddick for a paved bike path — with the paving of the dirt roads to follow, no doubt, as night follows day.

It is not the first time that such a proposal has reared its deceptive head on this beautiful little island. It seems as if every other year one group or other — sometimes on the Vineyard, sometimes on the island itself — pushes the idea that a four-inch-layer of steaming black asphalt over the dirt roads of Chappaquiddick is the way to go. And to start with, they say, let’s widen the narrow dirt roads for an adjacent ribbon of black paved asphalt so that bikers can streak from the Chappy ferry to Wasque Point and back. That way life can speed up. The cars will move faster and the bikers will move faster. (And the chances of accidents will be greater for both, but that part is never mentioned.)

The advocates of this proposal are right about one thing: Paved-over dirt roads and paved bike paths would make traveling by either on Chappaquiddick a piece of cake. And you know what? Every tourist who comes to any part of the Vineyard would want to drive or bike out to Wasque Point several times a week for that reason.

A great number of both come out now, driving or pedaling slowly and safely on the narrow paved road that leads out to Wasque. The motorists drive even more slowly on the short and bumpy stretch of dirt road at the far end. For the bicyclists, who also come in great numbers, the dirt road is even more of a strain. Many of them get off their bikes when they reach the sandy part and push them the rest of the way. Both the motorists and the bicyclists undoubtedly enjoy their Chappaquiddick visits immensely. But when they get back to Edgartown at the end of the day, you can almost hear them saying to each other: “Hey, that was a lot of fun, but I don’t think I want to do it again this week. Let’s just stay on the Vineyard and shop.”

Chappaquiddick residents who casually support this proposal should think ahead to the day when a smooth asphalt bike path crosses the island next to a paved road from one end to the other. It will be a splendid tourist attraction. Irresistible. Chappaquidick will become a favorite destination for motorists and bikers alike — not just once a summer but on an every-day basis. Everyone who grumbles about the congestion and long waiting lines at the Chappaquiddick ferry now (and many certainly do, understandably) should be prepared. You haven’t seen anything yet.

Your editorial in the August 12 issue begins like this: “Happily, around the Island, there are still many dirt roads. These unpaved roads usually meander and tend to pass through the pine and scrub oak woods.”

That’s certainly true of the remaining few dirt roads on Chappaquiddick, short as they are. “Sometimes a beach is at the end of a dirt road,” the editorial continues.

That’s also true. And what a special delight it is when you finally get to South Beach or the fisherman’s parking lot on Wasque Point and discover that they aren’t packed end to end with cars like a suburban mall. For those who make the effort, it’s heaven on earth.

“Dirt roads can pose a danger to car exhaust systems and if they are stony, they are not good for car tires,” you point out in your editorial. “Dirt roads without runoffs develop deep puddles for shiny new automobiles.”

That too is true, and is probably why Vineyard tourists tend to drive out there only once or twice a summer, and the ferry lines — bad as they are — are not even worse.

“But dirt roads never were meant for cars. Most, originally, were designed for horses and wagons in an era when it took more time to get places,” your editorial concludes. “It seems a pity when cars take these roads over and drivers demand that they be modernized, substituting ground-up blacktop for old-fashioned dirt.”

It does indeed. Which is the hidden horror of the latest proposal to build paved bike paths on Chappaquiddick for those, like myself, who love the island for what it is and what it has always been.

The paved-over dirt roads and asphalt bike paths will be wonderful for all the additional motorists, motorcyclists, moped riders, bicyclists, roller skaters and skateboarders. But they will change the face of Chappaquiddick forever. The island will never be the same.

It is relatively easy to lay down steaming black asphalt on a bike path or a dirt road. But once there, it is virtually impossible to take it away. And your editorial puts it exactly right in closing: “. . . as more of these roads disappear, so too does a little of the magic of our Vineyard.”

Timothy Leland

Boston and



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

During the winter and spring of this year, I underwent radiation treatment for breast cancer. At the treatment center my husband David picked up a card for Hope in Bloom Inc., a nonprofit organization founded by Roberta Hershon to plant gardens for breast cancer patients. My husband called me and informed me that Janice Donaroma would be participating. Janice called me and we made a date to start the garden. From the moment she stepped out of her car, with the biggest smile, we were best friends. It was like we had known each other from birth (although I’m much older than she is). We spent the afternoon shaping the garden, putting flags around it and deciding on flowers and colors we wanted. I had some stepping stones, and we arranged those the way we wanted them placed, and then we sat down and hugged and smiled and envisioned the completed work.

A week or so later Janice called and said she would be there in the morning with a crew. The next morning, three trucks, five men, Janice and oodles of plants were in the yard. The men spent the entire morning digging out the plot; they removed the debris, and returned with a truckload of soil, compost, fertilizer and 12 bags of peat moss. They then filled in the garden with the mixture — thank you Ilmar and gentlemen. Janice went to a meeting and returned with more plants. We spent the afternoon placing the potted plants (about 150) where they were going to be imbedded. We than sat down and hugged and laughed and looked at the work of art we were creating. The next morning Roberta and three of her volunteers arrived, as well as Janice with — yes, you guessed it more plants, along with Kate and her crew. Thank you, ladies, for a job well done. They then spent the morning taking the plants out of the pots, putting them in the ground and putting the mulch around them.

Finally came the watering of the plants, which is the final step in planting a beautiful garden. So the above describes the words: donated plants and design. My thanks to Mike and Janice Donaroma, Roberta, and all who participated in the making of this garden. This garden is a labor of love, which I truly appreciate. Janice has my love and I will hold her dear to my heart always.

I offer an open invitation to one and all to come look, sit and enjoy at any time: 41 Hampson avenue, Oak Bluffs.

Dorothy E. Underwood

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the Two of Us (Gazette, August 19) on Rose Styron and Lucy Hackney, “as different as North and South, their lives divided by the Mason Dixon Line.”

The Mason Dixon Line is not the line between North and South or slave and free state. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were English surveyors who drew the boundary line between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1763, before the Revolutionary War let alone the Civil War. Why do people babble Dixie Dixie! Dixie was apparently invented by songwriter Dan Emmett in Dixieland in 1859, again before the Civil War.

Eleanor Cummings

West Tisbury

and Boston


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The level of noise and use of nonrenewable fuel sources in our neighborhood and across the country has dramatically increased with the excessive use of weed whackers, hedge trimmers, larger lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws etc. We wanted to let you know what we have been trying to do to make the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, the use of nonrenewable fuel, noise pollution and also save money.

The past two summers we have been using a hand mower and have recently  purchased a solar chargeable electric mower for the thicker grassy areas. We also find that raking and clipping by hand is quite enjoyable, good exercise and quiet. We do however still use a chain saw once in awhile in the winter to prune tree branches and very large fallen trees that we burn for firewood. 

      There are many companies and Web sites that you can contact that supply hand and electric mowers, solar battery chargers and at any local hardware or agricultural supply store you will find all kinds and sizes of clippers, rakes and hand saws.

We would like to appeal to your higher consciousness that would love to contribute to our sustainable earth, the greater good and peace in the world.

According to the EPA, gas mowers are responsible for nearly five per cent of our nation’s total air pollution. Over 800 million gallons of gasoline are used mowing our nation’s lawns every year. And if you operate one for more than 15 minutes, experts advise you to wear hearing protection.

Fact: A gas mower sends 87 pounds of the greenhouse gas CO2, and 54 pounds of other pollutants into your air every year.

Fact: Over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment — more petroleum than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

Pam and Nat Benjamin

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of the Federated Church in Edgartown, I would like to thank the Gazette and particularly general manager Joe Pitt for their invaluable help in promoting our chowder suppers held six Thursday evenings this past summer. Profits from these suppers go entirely to The Island Food Pantry.

Also, we would like to thank the Edgartown School for its loan of necessary pots and pans to help us with this event. Again this year, Gina deBettencourt went out of her way to arrange for the school’s support of this community charity. The Gazette, the Edgartown School and some 40 volunteers worked hard to make these suppers successful. Our feedback from the community reported many happy diners!

Sandra McCormick