Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As members of the Great Pond Foundation board of directors and riparian owners, we’d like to thank Edmund Stevens for his letter of Sept. 2 making some cogent observations regarding the health of Edgartown Great Pond. We’d also like to address his concerns in print, since I assume there are others who share them.

Awareness of the potential for eutrophication dates back to the mid-1990s, generating concern among a number of homeowners. This concern lead to the formation in 1998 of the Great Pond Foundation, a nonprofit grass roots organization devoted to the health and well-being of the Edgartown south shore ponds. Supported by voluntary donations, water quality studies were commissioned at once and public education efforts began with publication of several pamphlets specific to the subject.

In 2004, the foundation sponsored a workshop of town officials and experts to explore new septic system technology and to discuss results of experimental installations at various off-Island sites. Principle objectives were to underscore the need for reduction in nitrogen input into the various Island watersheds and to urge the establishment of appropriate regulations by health officials. Since then, the Island-wide water alliance has done extensive investigation into wastewater treatment alternatives. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission through its Island Plan initiative has retained a consultant to do further study addressing this topic, including the challenges of funding universal compliance.

Meanwhile, a very significant step in reducing nitrogen input to the pond is being planned by the Edgartown wastewater commission. Voters, beginning this fall, will be asked to support a proposal for connecting Island Grove and (later) other major subdivisions in the Edgartown Great Pond watershed to the sewer system, thereby removing a significant source of nitrogen from entering the pond.

The benefits of removing nitrogen from the pond through openings to the sea have been recognized for over two decades. Various means of maintaining the cut for an ideal exchange period of 10 to 14 days have been studied, even including an artificial, permanent sluiceway. The last dredging by the town five years ago resulted in a very successful opening, demonstrating the critical importance of removing the sand build-up pond side during a vigorous tidal inflow. Given the dredging priorities in other bodies of water and the expense of launching and retrieving this equipment, the town dredge is not available to meet the needs of Edgartown Great Pond.

Therefore, with cooperation and approval of the town, the foundation has, among many other initiatives, taken on the huge challenge this year of identifying and financing purchase of a dredge specifically adapted to the needs of the Edgartown Great Pond. This equipment is now on order and should be operating in the pond this winter. At the same time, we are supporting work to improve the oyster population, to expand testing of water quality, to control bird populations, to reduce nitrogen from septic and fertilizer sources, and are exploring ways of dealing with future algae outbreaks.

A number of factors go into determining an ideal schedule for openings, among which is critical timing relative to the life cycle of shellfish. In order to coordinate this complex task among those with interests in and responsibility for welfare of the pond, a comprehensive pond management plan is currently being developed under the auspices of the Edgartown ponds advisory committee.

Notwithstanding all of the above, Mr. Stevens in his letter reflects the need for a greater flow of information. His interest and concerns, and those of others who share them, are most welcome. Remedial measures being proposed by the foundation, the ponds advisory committee, the dredge committee, the shellfish commission and the selectmen will become a reality only with broad support from those who care about preserving this great natural resource.

For further information and to be kept informed on this subject, please visit greatpondfoundation.org/.

Burton Fleming

and David Luening



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter concerns the State of Massachusetts review of a proposed approval for modification of the conservation restriction for the Katama Airfield. Preservation of the sandplain habitat which makes up and surrounds the Katama Airfield represents a true environmental success story and by purchasing these lands from the original owners and placing into public hands, development of this area has been avoided and a precious piece of Martha’s Vineyard can be forever protected. In allowing the grass airfield to continue, the history of aviation on Martha’s Vineyard, to a certain extent, has also been preserved.

It is the aviation component of the airfield which concerns many Edgartown and Chappaquidick residents. Everyone has become accustomed to the sound of planes overhead and the red biplane has become a summer tradition for many. The proposed rebuilding of the hanger is probably a necessity given the condition of the existing hanger, but in allowing the hanger to be increased in size the question that comes immediately to mind is will this allow and encourage an expansion of activity at the airport and of greater concern, has that expansion already occurred?

Dangerously low flying aircraft have been common all summer. Cowboy pilots seem to think the skies belong to them. The noise from the biplanes continues even when retrofits are available. The airfield has no answering machine and seems unwilling or unable to do anything about these conditions. Even the airfield commission won’t return phone calls. Did anyone realize that the helicopters which use the airfield are forbidden from using it? Why must a few always spoil it for everyone else? This may be the time to encourage review of airfield operation. The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program must approve changes to allow the increase in building size and that review is underway. Any concerns regarding operation of the airfield should be addressed to:

Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581, Re: Project Tracking #07-22868. Or address comments to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian A. Bowles, Secretary, 100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114. As holder of the conservation restriction, you can also share your comments with The Nature Conservancy/Massachusetts Office, 205 Portland St., Suite 400 Boston, MA 02114.

David Nash



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

During the summer of 1953, soon after the sudden death of my father, I went to work at Cronig’s Market which at that time was located on Main street in Vineyard Haven. Of course Cronig’s was a natural having summered each previous year at West Chop where most of the residents ordered their groceries from Cronig’s and had them delivered.

It did not take many days of working under Robbie before it became apparent that he was, indeed, a special kind of man — with the emphasis on kind. He took this 15-year-old kid under his wing and taught me everything he knew about running the produce section of the store. What fun. And how lucky I was to have known him. Robbie will be missed more than most.

Mason Buddy

Vineyard Haven

and Marblehead


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Now that summer is drawing to a close, I am writing to remind Vineyard drivers to be especially careful of our students walking to and from school or waiting at their bus stops. Please remember to drive carefully whenever you see one of our big yellow school buses, and be sure to stop when those lights flash. We want our Vineyard children to arrive safely.

James H. Weiss


Oak Bluffs