Editors, Vineyard Gazette;

The Trayvon Martin tragedy in my opinion not only illustrates the racial issues that haven’t diminished over time, but also points to another danger not much discussed. That would be what happens when neighborhood associations are overly empowered.

This is especially true in towns such as West Tisbury where the town government is renowned for being irresponsible and too often allowing anything improper to occur. A normal town would not allow a 100-plus residential subdivision on a dirt road and then go so far as to permit over 21 businesses on it, not to mention businesses which exist that have no permits. However, West Tisbury goes beyond normalcy and has an association in charge of what is illegal according to the Department of Environmental Dust Standards. When anyone resists the association’s lawsuits to support them they become a target, such as our family has. We have had threats of violence, malicious mischief, property destroyed in more ways than one resulting in the association pooling their money to hire an attorney to in effect commit perjury for them. We have had other nuisances imposed upon us such as a bus shelter which serves almost as much as a party shelter and dumping site. West Tisbury police, knowing the extent of the problems we have encountered, recommended we file a cease of harassment case, but typically courts do not respond to these cases until it is too late.

We are not the only ones made miserable by this association. The person most involved in forming it thinking he was dealing with decent, reasonable people was the first one they sued. I was the second, and when the district judge ruled in my favor they proceeded to attack him with lies and malice trying to get him fired. I was surprised at how upset he was when he called me personally at my home to read me the letter they sent to his superior. A young lady who is darker skinned than anyone in this subdivision and who has lived here most of her life was rudely and unjustly interrogated by a new resident and officer of this association. She wisely chose to retreat and refused to divulge where she lived although she is a weight lifter and I am sure could have taken a few pieces out of Mr. Association man.

So, buyer beware. Do not be misled by flowery poems read prefacing a town meeting where huge taxpayer money is spent to repave five town roads. Roads such as Indian Hill Road and Old Courthouse Road and Music street which do not have 25-plus traffic-generating businesses on them, are already paved, and very few taxpayers will ever travel upon. Beware of having to spend huge legal fees defending yourself and property, never mind being made constantly miserable. I am not sure how many liens have been put on people’s property for what is illegal, immoral and plain foolish. I am sure that many of these liens are on homes of senior citizens or others who can ill afford to fight back. Subdivisions on these dirt roads that are downwind of this illegal foolishness probably do not even know what they are getting hit with. They probably think it is just pollen. Buyers would be well advised to buy anywhere but West Tisbury. I have been before West Tisbury officials numerous times since l987 and the best response I have been able to get is we will take the matter under advisement.

In other words, don’t call us we’ll call you. This board of do-nothings is not always like this. They become activists and run a full page letter in the newspapers when it comes to telling another town they should not have a roundabout in their town.

James Sepanara
West Tisbury