Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I own Eco MV, a company I started because I felt the need to give something back to a community that had given me so much.

One of my greatest pleasures has been working with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services to employ those with special challenges in their lives who need someone to believe in them and their abilities. People who dream of a chance to just live life like the rest of us. Last Christmas I rented a new building for a retail store and offices in Vineyard Haven. It’s a beautiful place and at first we thought we had really lucked out. The retail space was two floors with huge windows overlooking the bay and the pond. It was great.

But a few months into the lease I realized that among other hidden safety issues we had no second floor access for people with handicaps. Concerned, I set about trying to find what I believed was absolutely required for a retail store but to no avail. There was no ramp or lift.

I informed our landlord of my concerns about our obligations to future employees who may need a ramp or elevator in order to access the second floor, as well as customers who may be wheelchair-bound. I explained our involvement with Community Services and our intention to continue to hire those with disabilities. I wanted to believe the noncompliance was an oversight. I received no response. I wrote e-mails, spoke in person and on the phone with the building’s representative, but my concerns were ignored. When the building was remodeled, thousands of dollars were spent on pricey fixtures and mahogany paneling, but apparently there were no extra funds for a simple ramp or lift. The only response to my communication came in the form of subtle threats. I was informed that I was expected to fulfill my lease, and that they had already met their obligation. I believe I was being forced to discriminate.

Then we were denied reimbursements for other work we had done to correct safety issues in the building, as well as fixing leaks and addressing the issue of standing water throughout the first floor from a second floor air conditioner that flooded our offices when in use. When we complained, we were given a plastic hand pump as a remedy.

Finally, in order just to be heard, we stopped paying our rent and at great expense closed down our store and moved to a handicap-accessible location on Main street in the middle of July. We take our responsibilities as an employer seriously and the safety and well-being of our employees are paramount. I had no intention of operating a retail store in a place that was a barrier to anybody wanting to live life just like I get to: free to work and walk and climb the steps in any public building without being made to feel different or a burden. It’s the law and it’s the decent thing to do. But apparently not everyone sees it this way. After numerous e-mails with the landlord, I decided to file a complaint with the state and move forward.

My last personal contact with our landlord’s representative ended with him informing me that I should not waste my time on complaints because the owner had lawyers on retainer and could outspend me, outwait me and run out the clock far beyond my ability. Again, I insisted on compliance with the law and stressed the rules surrounding second floor access for retail establishments. Nothing.

Finally I did receive a letter from one of those lawyers, threatening to take me to court if I didn’t pay $40,000. He denied that his client had responsibility for my concerns and did not mention the issue regarding the handicap access. It was disgusting and one of the worst examples of humanity I’ve experienced.

When is enough enough? When do we simply say that equal really means equal?

This isn’t so much about me or my lease but about the belief that we deserve more than a world where lives are cast aside for the sake of another dollar.

For several months I operated a business in a building that prevented me from hiring anyone in a wheelchair and prevented those same people from enjoying a new store like everyone else. We had to cancel plans to have a local summer camp visit our store for the day because many of these kids were also in wheelchairs. It was heartbreaking.

As people we all need to care, not just because the law says so but because it is the right thing to do. One day perhaps we will be the ones needing that ramp or a voice to speak up for us.

I understand that compliance can be expensive and that not everyone can do it alone. But when hundreds of thousands of dollars are put into redecorating or remodeling a public building, it should comply with the law before it is rented as a retail space. And there should be no retaliation for pointing out noncompliance.

As a business owner, I have seen the best of our Island every day, in people of all backgrounds. Every day someone teaches me something that gives me hope and pushes me forward. But sometimes I see the worst of people and it’s those times when I ask myself, just when is enough enough? Can the dignity of those who need a ramp be negotiated down to a dollar amount or a threat? Not on my Island. And not on yours.

I believe that history will judge us by how we treated each other.

Mark Martin

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Let us please remember that Morning Glory Farm is a retail operation selling mostly produce trucked in by Sid Wainer and Sons. The farm stand is a facade for the retail business. Also known as a storefront. I am a resident of the Morning Glory Farm neighborhood and I have listened to Jim Athearn shun a bike path along the most dangerous stretch of Meshacket Road and shun the need for town sewering of local neighborhoods. He has plowed under perfectly fine produce rather than donating it and dumped tons of nitrogen and pesticides on the fields via the compost pile, which is merely a dump where Island landscapers bring their lawn cuttings from the most heavily treated lawns around. Seems Mr. Athearn is really skilled at presenting and selling his bill of goods.

Ed Klien



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Okay, time to jump in the waters so to speak. The issue of wind power development in state waters as mapped in the Ocean Plan has brought a certain amount of rare cohesiveness in the Island’s response to it. As our community is nearest to the Cape Wind project, having another large commercial venture staring us in the face in an area considered so important to Islanders is just unacceptable. Having no control over what goes on in those waters is even more so. That said, there is now the issue of working cooperatively with the federal Minerals Management Service task force on future sites of wind turbines in federal waters abutting Vineyard state waters.

In meetings I have attended with state officials, I came away with the impression that major wind power development will not take place in state waters off the Vineyard. Several things that were said by them alluded to that. In fact the quick acquiescence of state officials on the sovereignty of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission over Vineyard waters just reinforces my view. Is there the possibility of some development in the state waters? I would answer yes, but if that were to happen it will be on a small scale, perhaps a type of community/private collaboration. In a conversation I had with a Cuttyhunk official he as much as said the same thing. Also, the MVC will be able to regulate the scope of any local development. The Ocean Plan only allows existing approved technology to be utilized in state waters. This is another constraint for developers as future turbines will be much taller, create more power and can be sited in deep waters where they don’t have to deal with as many local permitting issues.

The state has actually taken an extraordinary step and facilitated allowing the Vineyard community substantial representation on the Minerals Management Service task force, and while that task force may not have the final say in offshore federal wind development, I believe its recommendations will be an important cog in that process. Development appears to be inevitable in federal waters. Rhode Island is already entering into agreements with private developers in those same waters, so it makes sense to work with this task force to site turbines in the least intrusive locations from economical, environmental and visual standpoints.

I certainly agree that the state’s Ocean Plan is flawed in some of its assumptions, but that has little to do with what is happening beyond state limits. To dwell on those flaws in discussions concerning the future of development in federal waters serves little purpose except to be ultimately tuned out of the discussion. It is far better to try and engage the federal officials in a meaningful dialogue, especially early on in the process. There certainly is nothing to be lost by participating in that dialogue.

Tristan Israel

Vineyard Haven

The writer is a Tisbury selectman.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a colonial-rooted Cape Cod native who firmly believes in the sanctity of our maritime heritage, I am writing to ardently express my steadfast support for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Based upon sensible logic, data and reasoning, I am also conversely opposed to the controversial Cape Wind Project which seeks to despoil and rob us of the pristine nautical legacy bestowed by our forefathers. As a result of the likely profound damaging regional financial, ecological and public safety consequences Cape Wind would bring upon us all, it should not be allowed to proceed forward to fruition.

The project poses a cogent danger to essential air and sea navigation. Siting the project in Nantucket Sound is a breach of the public trust. Contrary to their sham claims, the cost of the electricity which the project will produce would not be cheap or competitive. It would be an unbearable fiscal burden foisted upon us without our sanction or consent.

Furthermore, it will represent a deleterious local economic blow by its absconding of undeserved taxpayer-funded subsidies, forced real estate devaluations and lost revenues from commercial and tourism activities. The proposed 130 wind turbines will perpetually cause unsightly visual contamination and distressing noise pollution. Finally, Cape Wind will unnecessarily endanger a critical marine and wildlife habitat.

With the aforesaid thoughtful rationales in mind, along with the inherently unfair and inequitable nature of the proposed Cape Wind project itself, it must not become a reality which will forever doom our children and grandchildren to a ghastly, socially inhumane legacy.

Ron Beaty

West Barnstable


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Many cities and towns in Massachusetts are allowing commercial wind turbines by special permit within hundreds of feet of residential homes. In some cases these turbines are as high as the Statue of Liberty. Setbacks are new to residential homeowners as well as your insurance company. The insurance companies currently set rates for distance to fire hydrants, distance to fire stations, residential rates, commercial rates, flood rates, single family, two family, etc. If you called your insurance agent today about commercial wind turbines, they would have no idea what you are talking about in regards to rate increases or changes.

Residential insurance rates are a valid consideration, and one that ought to be examined, especially by those homeowners who will be directly affected by the turbines, which will include living within the blade throw, ice throw, fire, lightning, environmental spill hazards, etc. of a commercial wind turbine. Since this setback issue is new for the insurance companies, actuaries for the insurance companies will be figuring out the exposure to commercial wind turbines only after they are installed in your neighborhoods.

As the state moves forward, Massachusetts residents within the commercial wind turbine zone should be advised how to insure against a commercial wind turbine and tower.

Frank Haggerty



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society:

As the year comes to a close, we think back on all the support we have received in the past year. One of the highlights of our year was arranging for our special riders to have their time to shine during the fair. It really was a very meaningful occasion for them, some of whom are still talking about it!

We thank you for squeezing us into your busy schedule and accommodating our needs. Also, a thank you to the draft horse folks, for offering the use of their docile horses so more of our clients could ride. We strive to include as many of our special riders as possible, so all can experience the thrill of being in the fair. It was a huge success. Hope to see you in 2010.

Vickie Thurber

West Tisbury

The writer is the executive director of the Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center.

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.