Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following is an e-mail that went out to an array of West Tisbury residents on Wednesday:

At the West Tisbury board of selectmen’s meeting tonight we heard truly shocking news. The Island Affordable Housing Fund has sent out letters (dated yesterday, received by some families today) to 45 families Islandwide, to advise them that the fund has no money to pay any further rental subsidies. Indeed, the payments (approximately $27,000) for November were paid by the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority and they will certainly have to pay an equal amount for December. The fund is the group that Patrick Manning most recently headed up (he left “precipitously” in September) and they are a charitable organization depending upon grants, donations, etc. It seems to me that as recently as last spring Mr. Manning was soliciting our local CPC for $50,000 for a “Go Green” fund which was to pay for energy efficiency in new construction . . . I hope that I heard wrong tonight but fear that the real story could be even more grim.

The DCRHA itself has received CPC funding ($30,000 if I remember correctly in West Tisbury, although it could be $50,000 for FY2010) and I would have to assume (but hope otherwise) that the funding for those families is also at risk if their funding has suddenly had to be spread around to cover the other shortfalls.

For those who would like to help, please contact David Vigneault at the DCRHA.

Let me emphasize several points: each and every rental property is inspected and any code issues must be brought into compliance before tenants are allowed to move in — this has always been very important to me as it means that these Island families aren’t living in rat-infested, totally substandard, unsafe conditions in a garage or a basement.

Another point: obviously the fund has a new director who is trying to regroup, but this sudden financial crisis did not happen overnight; the train wreck must have been obvious for some time. Obviously, if the housing authority just paid for November someone knew some time ago that the fund was out of money. At least for this program. There is a board of directors who should have had an inkling, and the director should have been aware of what was happening (perhaps the reason for his departure?)

Each one of these 45 families (and the ones funded by DCRHA) have a lease, and a contractual agreement with their landlord, so they are really between the rock and a hard place. I asked, and was told, that the landlords are being called individually to try to negotiate better rent deals.

Perhaps it is time to seriously reconsider projects such as the partially completed 250 State Road to see whether we really should be spending in excess of $4 million for eight units (one of which is being built by Habitat for Humanity) of affordable housing. Yes, they are wonderful, energy efficient and low maintenance, but can we justify the cost in the light of what is happening?

The recession is obviously starting (finally) to make a serious dent in Island life; I’ve heard of several lifelong Islanders who have just lost their jobs when their employers suddenly closed down (in spite of apparent good business income) or let them go. We’ve always been very good at living locally and living frugally and resourcefully but this is really serious.

Virginia Jones

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to The New York Times:

As the co-author of the federal guidelines that discuss how to recognize a traditional cultural property as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, I take issue with your statement (in the editorial titled “Cape Wind” on Nov. 2, 2009) that the Wampanoag tribes’ “claim” about the cultural significance of Nantucket Sound “seems unsupportable.” I’m not deeply familiar with the matter, but my guess is that the tribes’ argument is easily supportable; the character and significance of a traditional cultural property exists in the minds of those who value it, and in my experience tribes do not readily lie about what’s culturally and spiritually significant to them.

But it also ought to be recognized that recognizing Nantucket Sound as eligible for the National Register would not necessarily stop Cape Wind. There is nothing in the National Historic PreservationAct that prohibits an agency from deciding, after the necessary review and consultation, that the public interest demands that a historic place, or someone’s view of a historic place, be sacrificed in the public interest. The tribes probably have a stronger argument for stopping Cape Wind under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits federal agencies from substantially burdening any person’s practice of religion unless it finds a compelling government interest in doing so. The application of RFRA has nothing to do with the National Register. The project review process set forth under the National Historic Preservation Act does, however, provide means of resolving disputes over cultural impact issues without going to court. Secretary Salazar would be well advised to use this process creatively to resolve the Cape Wind controversy, rather than pretending that Nantucket Sound is not eligible for the Register and by so doing, giving the tribes an enhanced basis for litigation under RFRA.

Thomas F. King

Silver Spring, Md.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I understand and can appreciate that there are some people here who are fervent for a change in U.S. policy toward energy conservation for our environment, but let’s do it right the first time. Directly offshore wind projects such as the Cape Wind project are not the answer.

The towers are embedded deep in the ocean floor and therefore are very difficult to remove. They will dramatically offset the ocean and air-going aspects of our local ecosystem. As witnessed by European ocean wind generators, whose technology has been in place for years, they break down often and break altogether, on average, every two years. This causes mass blackouts across those European regions as power is diverted to compensate for the broken wind turbines. They will not dramatically affect the burning of coal and oil for energy and therefore they could be considered to be a good distraction for environmentalists by the large energy companies who would benefit from that form of appeasement. And yes, they will severely impact the visual beauty of our Vineyard Sound waterway.

I wonder if those for the Cape Wind project are aware that:

• While the turbines are designated to be built right off the Vineyard, no energy generated from the wind towers will be diverted to this Island.

• No revenue accrued from the wind towers will be channeled to the Vineyard.

• Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has made Nov. 23 the final day for anyone wishing to comment on the draft oceans plan, yet he is both refusing to meet with Vineyard representatives and overturning an act that had once designated the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to have final say in any development project on or around the Vineyard.

It is theorized that this is all occurring for Governor Patrick’s own political gain by winning the race to be the first state on the East Coast to build offshore wind towers. It is occurring in this location because they don’t want it to take place near Boston. They could care less about the number of voters on the Vineyard that these actions could upset; most people in Massachusetts view Martha’s Vineyard as a rich people’s playground (very untrue stereotype for year-round Islanders), so who cares; the Island gets no sympathy.

There are two alternative solutions:

• Deep water floating wind turbines which are easily removable, have dramatically less impact on the ecosystem, will produce 10 times the amount of power that coastal turbines could produce, and yes, will be out of sight from the coast.

• My favorite: thermal depolymerization which turns all trash into clean fuel and could easily produce the same amount of barrels per year that we import from the Middle East (and more) just by the trash and agricultural waste we produce each year. This technology is very real. Take a look at youtube.

The bottom line is that the Vineyard is being steamrolled by the state and our rights as residents and keepers of this Island that we all love are being violated. What’s to stop the state from overturning other rights, acts and jurisdictions once legally designated for this Island?

Everyone who is interested in improving the oceans plan to give the power of final decision for development on or around this Island back to Vineyard residents, please join, as I have, the group called Let Vineyarders Decide, which can be found at; they also have a Facebook fan page under Let Vineyarders Decide.

Christopher Wright

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In a notice submitted by the Oak Bluffs water district and published in the Oct. 29 and 30 Vineyard newspapers, incorrect information was given. Contractor work was stated as a possible cause for the bacterial growth. Through further investigation within this department and in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, this was proven false.

Upon further examination of work orders and staff interviews, it was determined that all related contractor work had been supervised by an Oak Bluffs water district inspector, carried out to industry standards or greater and in accordance with all water district protocols.

The water district concludes that the factors that influenced bacterial growth within the system were not contractor related. The water district and their consultants will continue to investigate possible sources and conditions that may have caused this situation.

The commissioners of the water district and I are committed to providing its customers with safe, clean and dependable potable water and will be instituting a biannual flushing program, improved sampling protocols and an overall upgrade to treatment processes in the near future.

On Nov. 7, the sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) injection will be halted and normal operations will resume.

Please accept my apologies and thank you for your patience.

Thomas W. Degnan Jr.

Oak Bluffs

The writer is superintendent of the Oak Bluffs water district.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is very thankful to everyone who helped make this past Saturday’s vaccination clinic for the H1N1 flu possible.

First, to hospital staff who volunteered their time and expertise. We depend on all of you, every day, to give great care and this day was no different. My thanks also to those staff members who willingly donned a different hat this weekend and did whatever was needed to ensure a smooth-running event. I feel truly honored to have the opportunity to work with you all.

Second, to the Island’s emergency medical service professionals and volunteers who took the time to assist hospital staff who were administering the vaccine, and to work with members of our community to help them get in and out as quickly as possible. The Oak Bluffs police department was also on call and ready to assist.

Finally, thanks to our neighbors, friends and families for their patience and understanding as we undertook this important endeavor. You reminded all of us once again of our commitment to our long-held tradition of providing compassionate and personalized care to all of you.

Timothy J. Walsh

Oak Bluffs

The writer is president and chief executive officer of the hospital.