Letters to the Editor, March 2

AOC Empowers Local Youth


Each year, fifth grade students at Monomoy Regional Middle School immerse themselves in reading and writing poetry. The process includes creating original art which is an integral part of the poetry itself. Thanks to the hard work and generosity of The Art of Charity, this year students will also have a much-needed electronic tablet which will help them share their creative process with each other and publish their work to share with the community. Putting this tool in their hands will not only benefit their writing and teach students a new and valuable use of technology during the creative process, but it will also empower students as they turn their inspiration into tangible artistic jewels.

On behalf of our young poets and those of us who will enjoy their amazing work, I extend a heartfelt thank you to The Art of Charity and the network of caring community members who support their efforts for our local children!

Catherine Kane, fifth grade teacher

Monomoy Regional Middle School


A Catch 22 For Harwich


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is requiring Harwich to jump through two hoops that are at cross purposes with each other.  All over town there are two buzzwords that everyone is talking about:  affordable housing and wastewater.  Every year we are supposed to create more affordable housing and yet we have to clean up our ponds and waterways so that our drinking water is not polluted.

Now, everyone wants to have affordable housing for our townspeople who need a bit of a break to be able to afford to work and live here.  But satisfying state requirements often requires us to solicit people from off Cape to move here.  How does that make sense?  New off-Cape recipients of affordable housing will need water to drink, add to the wastewater, and strain the services we have.  More doctors (many have a hard time finding doctors now), more room in the schools, more emergency personnel, the list goes on of what they will need.

Wastewater cleanup and sewer lines proposed for the future will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars that you and I and our children will pay for starting with a $30 million request at town meeting this May.  By the time the sewers are built (for only parts of Harwich, not all of us), many of us will no longer be alive.  The choices we make now could make Harwich unaffordable for the average homeowner. Property values will be increased for some, and other’s property values will be reduced depending on whether or not they are hooked up to the sewers.

The math is simple, even for me:  more people = less clean water and more sewage.  Do you see the Catch 22 here?  

The housing commission is looking to gobble up any available land to build higher density housing.  The 40B state regulation has no minimum setback requirements and developers are able to override our local building codes.  You could have dense housing right up to your property line as long as long as there are no health, safety, planning or open space issues!

Right now, in West Harwich, Habitat for Humanity is planning to squeeze six houses that will cost approximately $385,000 each onto a parcel of land that is partially within a flood plain, and this density might potentially effect the water in the Herring River.  First of all, how does $385,000 seem like an “affordable house?”  Secondly, why would we want more sewage in an area where the groundwater is fragile?

What can you do about this?  You might start with contacting the Conservation Law Foundation.  They are the organization that brought our wastewater crisis to the forefront. They have a great website at clf.org. Their email contact information is e-info@clf.org, and by mail, Conservation Law Foundation, 62 Summer St. Boston, MA 02110. Their phone number is 617-350-0990

There must be something we can be do to prevent the increase in population, building, and pollution.

Anne Stewart

Pleasant Lake


Memories Of Tim Roper


I lost more than a friend with the death of Tim Roper, as I considered him a brother.  The door to an impressive and expansive world of art, literature, history and politics that was lit by an embracing, ebullient charm and colored by compassion has been rudely slammed shut.  His keen intellect, rapier wit, and sardonic perspective that were so insightful and amusing have fallen silent.  

Timmy lad, you were the straw that stirred the drink and in times of darkness the North star.

Playing trivia one night at The Squire, in a tight match, the last bonus question was "What was the name of the first computer.”

Who knew?  Tim informed us that it was named ENIAC.  We won.  I dubbed him Lord Eniac.

My fondest memory were the times spent in his cathedral ceilinged living room shelved with a vast library of old books interspersed with fine paintings.  Fire blazing, each a single malt in hand, he would allow me to preview the latest edition of the “Crap Cod Chronicle.”  It was roll-on-the-floor, pee-in-your-pants, laugh-so-hard-you-wept-out-your-nose, way too funny for words.  As is his death too sad for words.

Tom Redmond



Selectman Quietly Helped 300th


Along with your recent tribute to Tim Roper I would like to share a little known fact about his contribution to the Chatham tercentennial celebration.

The tercentennial committee was trying to raise money to fund the celebration and Tim Roper stepped up and offered his expertise in fund raising. Without compensation, he created a fundraising letter which was sent to all property owners in Chatham. Over 400 families responded with donations which generated a significant amount of funds. Between those donations and other large ones from various citizens, we were able to pay for all the activities of that year and still have remaining funds which were donated to Monomoy Community Services and to the Cape Cod Foundation for its Chatham Fund.

Tim was indeed a huge contributor to the success of the Tercentennial celebration.

Don Aikman

Chatham Tercentennial Committee Member


Not A Blank Slate


With the vacancy unexpectedly occurring in the position of Chatham's Director of Community Development, Town Manager Jill Goldsmith, the appointing authority, must be alert to what citizens expect in the person she selects to hold this position. It's important that a new director understand that Chatham is not a blank slate onto which he or she should expect to project a newcomer's vision of how this town should look and grow.  That's because Chatham residents determined that years ago in our long range comprehensive plan. Our plan is specific about how this small town should be developed and preserved. Now it needs implementation.

  To achieve this, we should expect Ms. Goldsmith to do the following: Inform applicants about our comprehensive plan; expect them to read it; and in any follow-up meeting make sure they can accept the land use section's goals, policies and priorities as their direction.

In addition, Ms. Goldsmith needs to make clear to the person who will be managing our zoning regulations that Chatham is a prosperous town; big money can be made through development.  Chatham's Director of Community Development must be independent of such pressures and committed to the town's need to protect its physical aesthetics and natural environment.  

May the search for the new director be managed with respect for this position's role in our town's future. Chatham deserves the best. 

Deborah Ecker



Needs vs. Nice To Have


The Saquatucket Development Plan recently presented to the board of selectmen and posted on the harbormaster website needs a lot more scrutiny. Although concepts have been floated as far back as 2011 from a Cape Cod Commission report, it is really just recently that words and ideas are being transformed into numerous structures distributed over the available 7.4 acres with construction square feet and designation of offices, conference rooms, bathrooms and amenities. With the total cost of this project (water and landside) potentially approaching $12 million, it is not too late to ask if all the proposed “landside" elements are appropriate and needed. Let’s look at just a few issues that need scrutiny.

Why would Harwich taxpayers want to go deeper in debt (think millions for wastewater, fire station 2, new regional technical school, Lower County Road rebuild, etc.) to build and lease out a  2,440-square-foot restaurant and bar (along with parking and 6,500 square feet of decks and ramps) to a private company?  Why do that anywhere in town, least of all at the one location that could offer residents a place – hopefully a nice green space – to view and enjoy the harbor and the ocean with friends and family? Are we so rich that we are willing to speculate in a business venture that fails 75 percent of the time within five years (per the National Restaurant Association)? The town’s experience over the last decade with leasing the restaurant at Cranberry Valley demonstrates the challenges. If this is such a good venture, why hasn’t private industry jumped in? For example, why hasn’t Brax next door expanded its operations to offer breakfast?  If a steady revenue is desired to help offset the borrowing cost for necessary renovations directly associated with harbor and boating operations, the town could consider a long-term lease of land at the harbor (50 to 75 years) to allow limited, private development.  Residents need to examine the proposal and weigh in before it is too late.

Richard Gundersen

Harwich Port


New Fire Chief Is Already Here

Many years ago when Chatham voters were deciding to build new police and fire stations, it was a wise choice to build two separate buildings with two separate chiefs because of different needs of staff, equipment and mandates.
Now we must have a new fire chief to replace the retiring, dedicated Chief Ambriscoe.
Chatham does not need to go public for a new chief and must overcome its notorious reputation of not hiring from within our own after all their training.
We now have an outstanding person to fill Chief Ambriscoe's job! That person has lived here for many years, raised his family here, pays taxes and well knows our needs and wants.
He has been in our homes and businesses – sometimes for safety reasons while other times for medical, so he knows us well. He has taught most of us CPR and other preventative ways through many grants he has written while saving Chatham a great deal of money. He is well respected by other fire chiefs and departments – just ask them. The man who should and must be our new fire chief is Peter Connick!

Ellen M. Our

The Winner Is...The Orpheum

Many thanks to the Chatham Orpheum Theater for opening their doors to the public for their showing of the Academy Awards presentation Sunday night.
The red carpet was rolled out, and many in the crowd were dressed in formal finery in honor of the occasion. Watching the performers on the big screen gave us the feeling that we were a part of the event. The ceremony lasted a full four hours, but the time flew by, due partly to the comfort of the seats in the auditorium, but also because of the camaraderie and spirit of the appreciative audience, who often broke into applause along with the Hollywood crowd. Jimmy Kimmel did a creditable job as master of ceremonies, while the members of the Academy did us proud, being impressive, appreciative, and gracious.

Bill and Tilda Bystrom