Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Gazette called me to seek information about the effects of wind turbines on migratory bird population for an article in the Sept. 11 edition. Unfortunately there was a missing synapse along the line as a good portion of the information printed had no bearing whatsoever to what I said.

Yes, I am indeed concerned about the lack of data presented on bird migration and wintering grounds for the areas around the Vineyard and in particular Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk in the Massachusetts Oceans Management Plan.

However, I never said that either Noman’s Land or Cuttyhunk were breeding grounds for long-tailed ducks. What I did say was that the area between the Gay Head Cliffs and Noman’s Land were important wintering waters for a sizeable flock of sea ducks including common eiders and three species of scoters: black, white-winged and surf. I said that during certain times in the winter you can almost walk between Gay Head and Noman’s Land on the sea ducks.

The Gazette was correct to mention my concern about Leach’s storm-petrels. Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk are the only two areas in the commonwealth where this storm-petrel nests and it is a state-listed endangered species. This information is indeed included in the Oceans Management Plan, yet the proposed location of wind turbines are around those exact areas!

I would like to add that there is no data in the plan on the numbers of raptors (hawks) and passerines (song birds) that migrate over Noman’s Land and along the south shore of Martha’s Vineyard or through Vineyard Sound and Cuttyhunk. Several hawks that migrate along these routes are on the state’s lists of endangered, threatened or birds of special concern and include northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk and peregrine falcon.

Terns are of concern as well. As I stated in an article I wrote for the Gazette on August 7, terns nest along the beaches of the Vineyard, Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk. They are notorious for moving their nesting sites and use the nearby waters for feeding themselves and their young. The nesting sites of these terns including roseate, which is an endangered species and common, arctic and least terns which are of special concern, should be monitored annually and the effect of wind turbines on close shore turbines be researched.

And speaking of research and data collection, Martha’s Vineyard’s avian population and migration information was not included in the Oceans Plan. We do not report our sightings to mainland organizations such as Bird Observer or Massachusetts Audubon Society and no Vineyard birder was asked to join the work group that collected the data. We need to have equal representation of the data on our avian residents and visitors included in the plan.

Monitoring after the horse is out of the barn (see how many birds are dead from the turbines) is not acceptable in my book. Research from other areas and countries where wind turbines are in use should be used. Light sources should be flashing instead of steady and should shut down at certain times of year; maybe the use of wave energy converters makes more sense in this area than wind turbines.

Vineyarders should have the right to choose the type of alternative energy sources — which we need desperately — and the location of same.

Susan B. Whiting


Susan Whiting writes the weekly column for the Gazette, Bird News.

Tragic Demolition

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When I read the story in the Gazette about the Henry Hough house and the plans to tear it down, I was horrified. What a tragedy.

This house may not be in the historic district and it may not be a historic house, but the history in every part of that house should never be destroyed.

Henry Hough is as much as part of the history of Martha’s Vineyard as anyone you could name. The fact that the historic district was established in 1987 — 22 years ago — is proof that the perimeters of the district need to be changed. There are many houses in town that are certainly in danger of being torn down just because the money is there to do it.

I grew up in Henry Hough’s neighborhood. He and his wife Betty were great friends of my parents and it makes me so sad to think that his house is in danger of being destroyed.

It is time the boards that make the rules that govern the town stand up and say no to the money that is destroying the charm which once was Martha’s Vineyard.

Janet Norton


Treasures Lost

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am in total agreement with Tony Horwitz’s remarks regarding the demolition of a valuable piece of our Island heritage, the Hough home in Edgartown. I also deplored the dramatic transformation to just a wealthy nondescript summer house of the former home of the extraordinary American actress Katharine Cornell. Upon the death of her husband Guthrie McClintock, she sold her primary Island residence Chip Chop, now currently owned by Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols, and moved into The Barn.

My dear friend Margaret Lindsay purchased The Barn on Lake Tashmoo with a magnificent view, straight out of a Constable painting. Margaret took pride and made a point of keeping The Barn just as Miss Cornell had left it, with grand piano, books, scripts, music and furniture. It had been the center of social life for Miss Cornell where Noel Coward, Vivian Leigh, Sir Lawrence Olivier and countless other luminaries of stage and screen came to enjoy our Island.

Upon Margaret’s death, The Barn was sold, and nothing remains of the former stars of that long ago era. And more is the pity. Just a bland but beautifully located summer house has taken its place.

Just as shocking was the demolition of Lillian Hellman’s home on the Vineyard Haven harbor. I had the good fortune to be a frequent visitor there when Peter Feibleman, who inherited the house, was the owner. His employee’s mother, a friend of mine, came to house-sit. It was sheer delight to savor the pictures, the furniture, the setting, the garden that had formerly given Miss Hellman such pleasure. Now all gone . . . just as Katharine Cornell’s beloved Barn, and just as Mr. Hough’s residence no doubt will be. It is such a loss to a vital part of our literary, cultural and educational heritage. The greatest tragedy is that this loss will go unappreciated and unobserved by future Islanders, visitors or history buffs. Only those of us who were fortunate enough to have shared a piece of these remarkable and significant homes while still intact have a true sense of our collective loss.

Why is it not possible to demand that such homes of former luminaries be left intact as national or regional or local heritage sites? What a fortune we have missed, monetarily and culturally, not to have national trusts to safeguard our treasures as they do in Britain. The high cost of maintenance could have been partially offset by making them tourist destinations similar to Louisa May Alcott’s, Emerson’s, and other renowned authors.

Obviously we have missed the golden opportunity to place the Cornell Barn and Hellman house on the endangered list and guard their preservation zealously for future generations. Let it not also happen to the Hough home in Edgartown!

Doreen Kinsman

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To the person or persons who stole the stone dragon from our driveway on Chase Road: The first person who stole the dragon was a skydiver. It may have been coincidence but on the next jump his chute failed to open. Really sad. The next thief was run over by a rogue elephant, in New Hampshire of all places. Wow, who would have thought? The third thief went swimming off Lucy Vincent Beach and a significant body part was mistaken for bait by a school of bluefish. Ouch! He returned the dragon and the next day won the lottery. You can put it back, no questions asked. It would be appreciated.

Michael and Lynn Ditchfield



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing with some thoughts on the recent article regarding the arraignment of a teenage girl involved in a fatal car crash. What really struck me from the article was the severe penalty for vehicular homicide. In addition to living the rest of her life with survivor’s guilt, the teenage driver who decided to pass in a no passing zone after consuming alcohol could go to jail for a very long time.

Teen crash stories are not new and the same thing happened many years ago in my hometown when four young boys on their first break from freshman year at college ended up partying and hitting a telephone pole that left two of the four teenagers in the car dead. A few weeks after this horrific incident, the surviving driver of this crash came around a corner in broad daylight near my house and ran into my dad’s car. I thought at that moment that this kid should be in jail or at the very least shouldn’t have his license for a while. Back then in the early 1980s, I’m not sure what the rules were for vehicular homicide, but they weren’t anything like today and this kid was back to his normal life of not driving very well.

Vehicular homicide penalties without alcohol are currently 30 days to 2.5 years in jail and with alcohol impairment, a minimum jail time of 2.5 years up to 15 years behind bars. If alcohol is involved, you will also lose your license for 15 years. How much is too much? Too much grief, too much penalty? Would the victims of these terrible accidents want these severe penalties for their surviving friends? Do all the parents that are left with a life of anguish over the loss of a child want these increasingly severe and life altering judgments handed down? Only God can answer here, but if grief and guilt somehow become more important than living life with youthful exuberance because our young people are all paralyzed with the fear of failing, then where does that leave us?

The kid that ran into my dad’s car many years ago a few weeks after drunkenly swerving into a telephone pole at a high speed and killing two of his good friends made me very mad that day. Not so much for banging up my dad’s car and giving us both a jolt, but because he was free, and the two passengers that died because of his irresponsible impulse to hit the throttle a little too hard were gone for good.

I’m not writing to argue what is fair in these instances. I’m just writing because destruction can happen at both ends of the spectrum in life — via fateful mistakes and via fateful judgments. Hopefully, we can all do our best to keep them both in check.

Joe Melanson


and Hawthorne, N.J.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

There is a new turf pest in Massachusetts, or at least on the Vineyard. I am the owner of Lawn Care Pros, a lawn care business and on August 10 I discovered what I was certain were European cranefly larvae at a site in Edgartown. This seemed a little odd, as this pest had not yet been identified in this state. I contacted Dr. Pat Vittum at the University of Massachusetts and through several conversations, e-mails and sample submissions my suspicions were all but confirmed. I finally caught an adult and Pat hand carried it to the Geneva experiment station at Cornell University in New York last week. There, Dan Peck has confirmed that it was indeed a Tipula oleracea, a newly emerging European cranefly species that has been responsible for severe turf damage in Europe, parts of Canada, the Pacific Northwest and several counties in New York state. Now the issue becomes, how widespread is the infestation? I have since found adults flying in Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, so I think they are here in pretty good numbers. In a turf management update posted by Dr. Vittum yesterday, she is requesting that lawn care operators throughout the state be on the lookout for the adults as they emerge over the next couple of weeks. Samples are requested to be sent to Dan Peck at Cornell for identification. I think it would be wise to alert the local landscape community as well as the public to be on the lookout for these guys. If you would like any further information regarding this topic I would be happy to oblige.

Steve Anagnos

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Lacking the skill of architecture critics Paul Goldberger or Ada Louise Huxtable and only as a West Tisbury taxpayer, I want to congratulate everyone who gave us our elegant new town hall. It is modern within but retains the exterior vernacular of the old beloved building.

Huzzah and hurrah to all who provided West Tisbury with a building both beautiful and practical.

Cynthia Walsh

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Island Food Pantry:

Enclosed please find check for $753, money raised this summer by the Chowder Suppers held at the Federated Church.

Although the economy affected our earnings it certainly did not diminish the enthusiasm and spontaneity of our many volunteer workers and our dinner guests. All had a good time being together, especially knowing that the food pantry would benefit from our camaraderie.

We thank our tireless volunteers and our diners who make all this possible. We also thank the Edgartown School which helped by supplying needed cooking utensils.

Bess Stone



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The 10th annual Richie Madeiras Memorial Softball Tournament was held Sunday, Sept. 13, to help celebrate the grand opening of Tisbury’s newly refurbished Veterans Memorial Park.

On behalf of the men’s and women’s softball leagues, we want to thank the many individuals and organizations for their time, donations, and support for this event, which raised money for the college educations of the Madeiras children.

Thank you to Island Food Products, Stop & Shop, and Eco MV for their generous contributions. Thanks also to the Tisbury Fire Department Company 651 for their hard work grilling food, to Ray Tattersall for organizing the tournament, to Fred LaPiana and the Tisbury Department of Public Works and the Tisbury selectman for their extraordinary efforts at turning the dream of a new Veterans Memorial Park into a reality for the thousands of children and adults who use it annually. Finally, thanks to all the softball players and team captains Kevin Hatt, Ryan Murtha, Bart Kent, Ryan Kurth and Shawn Reed‚ who helped plan and run the event.

Dan Sharkovitz

and Veronika VanderGeer

West Tisbury

and Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The week of the presidential visit to the Vineyard provided those of us along the major flight paths with much relief from air traffic noise. However, on the Monday after his visit, things changed dramatically. There were over eight flights early in the morning, the first of which was at 5:15 a.m. It was a propeller plane and flew very low thereby creating a great deal of noise over houses in West Tisbury. I have been told that it is at the pilot’s discretion as to what altitude he flies. On behalf of all the residents who are unfortunate enough to live along designated flight paths, we respectfully request that pilots give Vineyard residents due consideration when picking their flight altitudes.

Richard Spillman

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We would like to publicly address our deep gratitude to the firemen and officers of the Oak Bluffs fire and police departments. The fact that the Sept. 10 fire at our house turned out to be inconsequential was due entirely to your promptness and professionalism. You saved us from untold grief. Thanks, too, to the many friends and neighbors who offered and provided help. You all make us so proud and grateful to live in this community.

Tom and Cathy Chase

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Richard Thompson, a former Vineyard resident, who died in Washington state this month, will be remembered as my mother’s caring neighbor. For many years, he’d check on Della Hardman regularly and help with chores and carpentry. In a Web posting a few days before Della Hardman Day last year, Richard wrote, “I will not start taking chances now so I’d like to nominate Ms. Della Hardman from the great state of grace for the president of heaven.”

Thank you Richard for the help yougave and rest in peace.

Andrea L. Taylor

Oak Bluffs