Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I read with great dismay your editorial about our town administrator Michael Dutton. Having lived through the tenure of every town administrator we have ever had in Oak Bluffs and with regular attendance at most of the meetings of the board of selectmen, I can say with all honesty, I think you are sadly mistaken and totally misinformed.
Michael Dutton is extremely competent, well versed in the complex nature of our community, hardworking, well intentioned and considerate beyond (sometimes way beyond) the call of duty. At each meeting of the board, he is prepared to discuss problems, recommend solutions and initiate programs that will better serve the town. He is resourceful, intelligent and quite capable in matters of the law and the complex issues that present themselves in a small community. He is never afraid to say, “I don’t know, but will be happy to find out and let you know.”
The financial difficulties that our town finds itself in are possibly the result of some choices made by individuals and collectively by voters at town meetings over many, many years. We are perhaps too caring and concerned about each other to look only at the bottom line when making decisions. Our selectmen, department heads and town employees are our friends and neighbors.
Pointing the finger of blame at Michael Dutton is unfair. Instead, we need to find a way to come together, make some difficult choices, help each other to get through this crisis and bring financial security back to our town.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I usually find your editorial page thoughtful and sensible. But I respectfully disagree about what you have called “Sheriff McCormack’s Bad Call.”
On the contrary, I think Sheriff McCormack made the kind of balanced, humane call we elected him to office to make.
Kelly McCarron made a tragic mistake, one which will haunt her as long as she lives. She is not, however, a hardened criminal, or, considering the price she has paid for her grievously flawed judgment, likely to repeat her mistake. As such, she represents an ideal candidate for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Keeping her incarcerated serves no purpose other than the sad one of revenge. Will she be more effectively punished after spending an additional five months in jail? I think not. The lex talionis (an eye for an eye) as a metaphorical rendering of appropriate justice has been long and properly retired.
Moreover, it is not appropriate that the Pothiers, the parents of the girl who died in this accident, have a deciding vote in the matter. While we sympathize with them for their loss, they cannot be expected to be objective about Kelly McCarron. I wonder if they would feel the same way if the shoe was on the other foot and it was their daughter who had killed Kelly McCarron and was in jail for it. It seems to me that this question answers itself, and that therein lies the key to the balanced outcome you have criticized.
What I hope for Kelly McCarron is that she comes through her tragedy, not forgetting or denying it, but living her life in a way that, over time, redeems her as a useful person. She has been taught in the most indelible way that actions have consequences. Society’s resources are better employed (and at considerably less cost than incarceration) facilitating Kelly McCarron’s return to useful life.
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d . . . It is an attribute to God himself, and earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice.”
I applaud Sheriff McCormack for his humanity.
Nicholas W. Puner
TURBINE REVIEW NEEDED
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Due to the fact I was out of the country during the recent wind turbine meeting in Chilmark, I just became aware of the highlights of that meeting with the Chilmark board of appeals.
Our Martha’s Vineyard Commission is supposed to review projects that have a regional impact to our Island. Building a 14-story steel tower, with a noise producing turbine on top, that can be viewed by multiple towns, easily meets the definition of a regional impact. Furthermore, under a farm exemption, the abutters are further restricted from any public comment, so they needed and they simply requested an MVC review.
Just in the past year two other wind towers were built, one built under a farm exemption, and now both have complaining neighbors. Why is it that the concerns of the abutters to these two new proposed wind turbines were once again disregarded at the recent meeting in Chilmark? And when they simply wanted to have these towers reviewed by the MVC, even that request was denied?
I fully support wind power; in fact I am a dealer for the only Massachusetts-built wind turbine company (Aerostar). What I don’t like is the overt discrimination and preferential treatment used for enforcement of our regulations. Last year I was going to install a wind turbine on my property but decided not to, due to the possible disruption it may have caused my neighbors. I now believe there should be, at most, a few community owned wind turbines, and eliminate all private towers Island-wide. Vineyard Power wants to locate their towers off Island in the ocean, which even makes better sense. Surely, at the very least, the abutters to these towers deserve their right for a full review, which so far, no town has permitted them to do.
Isn’t it amazing how in Chilmark a six-foot cell tower is disregarded and delayed, which has been proven can save lives through enhanced communications, yet a 150-foot structure sails through the permitting boards unimpeded, with known adverse effects, and is then restricted from any public review?
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I do not understand why homeowners or small businesses think it is okay to build wind turbines that can be seen for miles and are considered eyesores by so many people. Survey after survey has shown that the major objection to wind turbines is visual. Why is it okay to intrude on air space common to many for the benefit of so few?
The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has abandoned its mission by confining its jurisdiction to 150 feet or higher. The individual towns have abandoned their responsibilities too by excluding wind turbines from their existing height guidelines for buildings and other structures. Both the MVC and the towns should review all applications when the turbines can be seen from roads, neighbors, conservation areas and beaches.
A few people thinking turbines are okay, not so bad, tolerable . . . does not compare to the many people who find them appalling. If turbines are so great, why doesn’t someone propose one as a town sculpture? Not a chance! Then why should they be approved when there is no economic or environmental benefit to the community or individual homeowners and marginal if any benefit to small businesses?
Wind turbine proposals have just been approved for Grey Barn and Allen Farms on South Road in Chilmark. They will be seen by thousands and thousands of people every year for miles from roads, conservation areas and from our precious Tisbury Great Pond, Chilmark Pond and Lucy Vincent Beach. They will stretch 14 stories high into the sky in one of the most beautiful areas on our Island. These farms may own their lands but they do not own the sky. We all share the sky and the views. What right does anyone have to spoil these vistas? Why would the four-person zoning board make this decision alone without consulting the MVC or asking for a town vote when the implications are so far-reaching? And if the building inspector was “required to give the permits” because more than 50 per cent of the power is for commercial farming, why didn’t the town adopt new regulations to deal with this eventuality? Then the building inspector would have been able to reject an application not in the best interests of the community.
Driving west on State Road in West Tisbury, a turbine is visible from Scotchman’s Bridge Lane to the West Tisbury cemetery. It takes a few passes to realize it is only one tower. It is a mile away on the other side of Old County Road, and yet it degrades the beautiful views over the fields along State Road. Is this what we want for the Vineyard — dozens of tall towers visible for miles in every direction ruining our beautiful views and landscapes?
Now is the time to resist this unnecessary plague before it becomes commonplace.
It will be a very sad day when the Middle Road views over Keith Farm, the views along South Road in West Tisbury and Chilmark, the views from Tisbury Great Pond and the views over Chilmark Pond from Lucy Vincent Beach are damaged forever by wide-winged wind towers stretching high into the sky.
COURSE FOR COPING
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Mental illness affects not only the person who is ill, but their families and loved ones as well. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts is sponsoring a free family-to-family educational course for family members of individuals with a serious mental illness. The course has been given nationwide to over 100,000 family members since its inception. It is taught by two trained family member volunteers and is intended to help family caregivers cope with a close relative’s mental illness.
We are pleased to again help increase awareness of this valuable, important program. This year, the twelve weekly classes, offered free of charge, will be held in Oak Bluffs on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., beginning Feb. 17 and ending on May 5.
Funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the course consists of 12 weekly two-and-one-half-hour sessions. The classes will cover information about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders and borderline personality disorder. The program also covers topics such as coping skills, crisis and relapse, listening and communication techniques, problem solving and limit-setting techniques and the family caregiver’s need for self-care.
Peter Weiden, M.D. author of Breakthroughs in Antipsychotic Medications says: “Family members who take the NAMI family-to-family course are better equipped to work with mental health clinicians in a collaborative manner. My bottom-line recommendation? Take this course. It will help you learn to cope successfully with a major challenge in your life, and that, in turn, will help your loved one as he or she works toward recovery.”
The course is open to close relatives and significant others of persons with a serious mental illness. It is not open to individuals who themselves suffer from a serious mental illness, unless their condition is stable and they wish to attend as caregivers for close relatives who have a mental illness. The class size is normally limited to 20 people and advance registration is required. Please call 508-693-5872 with any questions and to register.
We are so fortunate to have this program on the Island. Please take advantage of the support it offers.
The writer is executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to the Oak Bluffs selectmen:
I am offering this proposal to present an available, doable and economically viable opportunity for the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard to acquire 24 two-bedroom affordable rental apartments while providing perpetual cash flow to support the work of the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority.
The housing authority is by far the most cost effective and necessary housing agency on the Island. The simple way to quantify that fact is to look at the number of dollars spent divided by the number of people who, because of the assistance of the housing authority, can afford to stay on the Island. I am sure it is not necessary to explain why it is both economically and socially essential to stop the outbound migration of our year-round population, which has been occurring now for over 10 years.
As many people know, I have a permit to build 12 two-bedroom condos in an 1800s-style mansard building on my commercial property on Dukes County avenue. The second 12 apartments would be located in a duplicate building at the site of the controversial, and now defunct, Bradley Square project site on Dukes County avenue. These properties present a rare opportunity to build a pair of large, by today’s Vineyard standards, in-town apartment buildings. They are actually small compared to the Island’s architecture of the 1700s and 1800s. I cannot think of any other Island properties that are suitable and properly zoned for this kind of housing project and both of these properties are available.
The total cost of these two projects is about $5.2 million. The net rental income, based on 75 per cent AMI residents, from the 24 units will easily pay for a $3 million mortgage. I propose that the balance of $2 to $2.4 million would be raised from Islandwide CPA funds over two years earmarked for the housing authority to purchase each of these buildings as they are completed. Obviously the more the Island invests now, the smaller the note and the greater the positive revenue stream to fund the housing authority. To encourage citizens to donate I also propose an open ledger so every taxpayer can see exactly, check by check, what the project costs.
The people who donated to Bradley Square and the Oak Bluffs residents who approved CPA funds have a significant investment in the Bradley Square project and property. I believe the Island Affordable Housing Fund has the responsibility, as stewards of the money the public invested to create housing, to change course and support the creation of 24 units of new, efficient rental housing for Vineyard residents and not abandon ship and lose the property to the bank. In this way the Island community will not suffer the loss of that investment. The vultures are already circling to acquire the property for less than is owed. Who pays the deficit?
The proposed 12 two-bedroom affordable rentals on the Bradley Square lot replace the existing building with another period correct building. This plan allows for all on-site parking, saves most of the old trees and creates a lot of green space around the building and around the perimeter of the property. The idea is for it to look like the building has been there for 100 years.
Regarding the razing of the Bradley building, here again is a campaign of either ignorance or intentional misinformation. I helped the IAHF get rid of the remains of the furniture so they could return the storage container to save the fees and I also removed the old books and trash from the building after the Martha’s Vineyard Museum took what they wanted. I spent a lot of time in all of the rooms in the building. This building is not in any way economically viable as a rehabilitation project! Obviously anything can be done if we have money to burn. Contrary to what some people claimed at a historic committee meeting about massive beams and the incredible ruggedness of “one of the best built buildings in Oak Bluffs,” all I can say is there are no beams in that building. It is basic two-by-four construction, the floors bounce, in some rooms there are one-inch separations in the plaster between the roof and perpendicular walls, in other rooms there are gaps of over an inch between the baseboard and floor, nothing is level or square, the high ceilings combined with the old steep stairs make it impossible to bring the stairs up to code without completely changing the floor plan, and I could go on. It would need to be completely gutted and when done, the shell that would be left would be worth less than the extra cost of putting a foundation under an existing building. In other words it is economically infeasible. With respect to style, the New Bradley Memorial Church that Rev. Denniston moved to from Bradley Square was the old Noepe Theatre, a large mansard building about 300 feet away on Circuit avenue.
If we truly want to memorialize Susan Bradley’s mission and Reverend Denniston’s mission and church, we should build the 24 apartments as a project in their memory. The Susan Bradley building and Denniston building could be their last contribution to the citizens of Martha’s Vineyard. I was very impressed, having read many of their letters, gone through hundreds of their books and read countless book inscriptions, that it is true that Susan Bradley and the Dennistons were highly educated, principled people who had a significant impact on the lives of many of our ancestors. They were all eloquent writers and were by profession and passion religious people who served humanity as teachers, missionaries, ministers, philosophers and a doctor. They were also frugal as a principle of life and would be appalled at the waste of money represented by saving this building for some impractical self-serving egos disguised as historical preservation. Historical preservation can be accomplished by building new, efficient and cost-effective buildings that look like those from the 1800s, and by being frugal in the process, show respect for the values of these giving people.
If you want to support this concept please contact IAHF, the regional housing authority, your local CPC board, selectmen or me for any questions at 508-693-4219.
Donald N. Muckerheide
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard would like to thank all those who helped to make our annual Robert Burns dinner such a success.
We would especially like to thank the many people who contributed to our scholarship fund auction and raffle. Thanks also to the Harbor View Hotel staff for the great service and delicious meal, especially chef Levon Wallace for the exquisite Allen Farm haggis, to Jack Wildauer for his sound and light system and the irrepressible auctioneer Clarence A. (Trip) Barnes 3rd for separating us Scots from more of our money this year than last, an almost impossible feat.
See you all next year.