As former summer chairs, former directors and former executive directors of the Chilmark Community Center (CCC), we are writing to express our strong support for the Chilmark Town Affairs Council (CTAC) and its many years of oversight of the CCC. We firmly believe, and we know from our own personal experience, that the CCC should remain one unified program serving children and adults with a diverse array of programming. For almost seven decades the CCC has been a place where the entire community works and plays together. We do not understand why that should change. We oppose the attempt by a small group to have the tennis courts taken over by the proposed Town Tennis Committee.

We are deeply saddened that a faction within our community seeks to splinter the CCC program and is challenging the goodwill of the people who have worked hard to keep the CCC intact and thriving, including through some very rocky times. The result of competent and committed stewardship is that the CCC is thriving. For this summer, enrollment is at an all time high with over 60 Island families enrolled; the children of the Wampanoag tribe will be joining the CCC this summer; and the CCC is piloting a year-round partnership between the Chilmark Preschool and the CCC playschool.

The CCC has recently hired a highly trained and professional executive director who has the skills, experience and knowledge of the Island and Chilmark to guide the CCC into the future while preserving its wonderful character and history. The new executive director has already established a CCC stakeholder advisory committee, has met regularly with the community to understand community priorities and concerns, and has developed a leadership training program for 13 to 14 year olds and a CIT program for 15 year olds to establish the foundation for young people to transition from campers to CCC leaders.

For 68 years, a largely volunteer team spanning generations has worked to provide a summer program to both summer and Island residents, including the playschool, youth camp program, tennis, sailing, adult fitness and much more. The CCC is a sum of its parts, and what makes it unique is its multi-generational activities, its relaxed approach where children can make their own choices, and its strong sense of one community. It’s the Chilmark Road Race, Old School Day, GooOlympics, the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival and Author Series, and so much more.

The CCC is the antithesis of a “special interest.” You don’t need to be a sailor to try sailing on the pond, you don’t need to have picked up a racket to go out on the courts and play tennis, you don’t have to be in a theatre group to participate in the play or the talent show. Yet somehow, for some reason, one group wants to break away and run a separate tennis program. This is certainly not good for the CCC, it is not good for the town, it is not good for our community. And it is a frightening harbinger of things to come.

The CCC has always offered a unique experience where people of all ages and generations were connected through activities, events and the special culture of the CCC. Let’s keep it that way.

We urge all Chilmark registered voters to come to the town meeting on April 23 and vote no on the tennis proposal and revolving fund (Article 32) to separate tennis from CTAC programs.

Former directors and summer chairs: Alexandra London-Thompson, Christine Skidmore, Hannah Nichols Landsberg, Jane Gollin, Julie Coleman, Michelle O’Connor, Morgan Baker Brelis.