Continued Development Not Benefiting Chatham
Recently I wrote a letter to honor the elders of Chatham. I did so to set a bench mark because through attrition the community of Chatham is vanishing. This is self-evident.
For some time Chatham’s mantra has been Main Street above all else. “Living the dream” of the entitlement brand Chatham, transforming what was once Main Street, Hometown USA to an upscale facade that provides limited service to those who live here.
The business model of “service economy” does not equate to community prosperity. That too, is self-evident. Apparently we need this because this is what keeps taxes low. Taxes have always been low in Chatham because property values were much lower when Chatham belonged to the people who chose to live here. The people who chose to summer here didn’t try to change things unless and until they actually lived here. The wealthy back then kept a low profile and were sensitive to the nature of community and some were genuinely philanthropic by preserving land through the Chatham Conservation Foundation, for example. We had a year round economy, albeit modest, and though people wore many hats they raised families nevertheless.
Today, most visibly in winter, watch the steady stream of workforce traffic coming into town in the morning and leaving in the afternoon. Busy preparing the colony for next season. Who is it that’s making money here? The anonymous LLC real estate transactions? Maybe it’s the off-Cape landlord, commercial enterprise that my residential neighborhood becomes in the summer? Making an income that is not taxed nor transacted locally. Capital that never comes to Chatham, Cape Cod and at times even the state of Massachusetts.
It sickens my heart to witness my hometown being devoured by unbridled development for the sake of a short-sighted cash cow flop colony, marketing and selling the “Quaint Seaside Village” of Cape Cod houses that no longer exist, are no longer quaint, nobody lives in, and that hardly leave an unobstructed view of the sea.
Significant Loss To Chatham
With the resignation of Deanna Ruffer as director of community development, Chatham has suffered a significant loss. Ms. Ruffer has done more for planning, historical preservation and improving the fair and balanced application of the bylaws of Chatham then anyone in recent memory. Her knowledgeable, thoughtful and intelligent understanding of local bylaws as well as state statutes has helped guide Chatham in the almost four years she has served.
She has been a source of support and guidance to not only the historical commission, which I serve as chair, but I know to other planning and preservation boards and committees.
Our town manager, Ms. Goldsmith, should be congratulated in bringing her to Chatham and supported in the difficult task of “filling her shoes.”
Frank Messina, chairman
Chatham Historical Commission
Cape Tech – Not so Fast
Your glowing report this past week covering the new proposed Cape Tech was positive. There is another side. It might remind many of us about the old proverb “Fool me once shame on you, fool us twice shame on us.”
Just a few years ago the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) projected the student enrollment for our new Monomoy High School at 700 students. Remember in all designs, there are safety factors. In the case of Monomoy High, the school built can safely enroll and educate 10 percent more students or 770. Today, after it was decided to include eighth graders; enrollment is close to 600. Doesn’t that missed calculation raise the question, “Is 650 students the right number for the new Cape Tech?” And where are the data projections to confirm that 650 will remain flat for the next 10 to 15 years?
Remember, MSBA holds all the cards. Your school representatives for our taxpayers have no say on this question. The MSBA process makes sure the Cape Tech School Committee has no formal input into this question. At least up until this point. MSBA has essentially blocked all conversations including the leading state experts on Cape Cod teenage population for the next 15 to 20 years. If it was included, you would learn it is projected to slide another 15 to 20 percent.
Cape Tech has not seen enrollment of 700 students in close to 10 years. Today it is floating around 610.
Vocational education is expensive, but an absolute necessity. A new school properly designed could be a reasonable solution. What isn’t reasonable is a process that eliminates concerned resident taxpayers from having a seat at the table when discussing the new school.
The writer is one of two Chatham representatives on the Cape Tech school committee.
Selectman Doesn't Deserve To Be Re-elected
Few Chatham voters are aware of Selectman Seth Taylor’s reprehensible conduct toward the last charter review committee in his failed attempt to dismantle the very successful form of government Chatham adopted 22 years ago with its home rule charter.
Over a six-month period, in meeting after meeting, Taylor badgered, berated and bullied the committee and individual members, in particular its chairman, to adopt his invidious and divisive proposals. The committee was unanimous in rejecting all of Taylor’s proposals, including his attempts to severely limit the authority granted by the charter to the town manager and the board of selectmen.
Among the plethora of Taylor’s rejected charter changes was the creation of a three-selectman “disciplinary review board” that would “punish” salaried town employees for any ethical violation. Worse still was his proposal to give a single selectman the power at a public meeting to cause dismissal of the town manager for any act considered to be unethical.
His proposal to rewrite our charter to conform it to his skewed view of how Chatham should be governed can be found on the town website in the committee’s documents for Nov. 6, 2013. That proposal exudes Taylor’s scorn for the town’s present charter.
To get a better sense of Taylor’s disgraceful conduct, watch and listen to his tirades during the last 20 minutes of the Jan. 8, 2014 charter review committee meeting. At the end of that meeting, he turned his back on the committee and walked out in high dudgeon.
That sorry episode is just one of the many reasons Seth Taylor does not deserve to be re-elected.
Chatham and Fla.
Coming together on the issues we face
On Saturday, March 4, I was delighted to host a regional policy summit focused on local priorities for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Over 200 residents attended, including Congressman Bill Keating, who provided a valuable update on federal issues, especially the potential implications of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I'm grateful to all the people who gave us their Sunday afternoon, six facilitators, and two dozen panelists including Brigadier General (Ret.) Anthony Schiavi who joined us to lead a working session. Big thanks to Cape Cod Community College for hosting us and volunteers like Bob Samoluk, who led planning of the event.
The summit featured six working sessions centered around various aspects of life in our communities. In each of the working sessions attendees discussed some of the major challenges facing residents of the Cape and Islands, and the types of solutions that can be found at the local, state, or federal level. The conversations were substantive and wide ranging. Housing emerged as a key issue in every session, regardless of the topic. We’ll soon post a full report at www.SenatorCyr.com.
One of my hopes for the day was for participants to be introduced to neighbors they hadn't met and issues they didn’t know. I also asked every attendee to commit to one tangible action that they can do to become more involved in their community. I make the same simple request to the readers of this column. For instance, one action suggested by Bill Flynn of Cape and Islands EMS Services is for all to take a CPR certification course through the American Red Cross or another local organization.
Our communities face unique challenges. To move forward on housing affordability, wastewater, the opioid epidemic, and so much more, innovative policy solutions, outside-the-box thinking, and public participation are needed. With so many looking to get more involved in civic affairs and political action right now, the time is ripe to get involved locally. We have municipal boards that have vacancies, openings for local offices and issues of great importance being debated in our town halls. I'm encouraged that, even in these most turbulent times, politics can be civil and focused on the issues, not rancor and division.
Saturday’s discussion is the first of many. My office is now working to plan similar sessions on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Julian Cyr is the state senator for the Cape and Islands district.
The Full Lewis Tuttle Story
In the article "Early 20th Century Chatham Characters” (Feb. 16), it mentions my grandfather, Lewis Tuttle. I was happy to see it, however it is incorrect in a number of ways. Grampa Tuttle (Lewis) was not deaf from birth, and my grandmother Laurice did not teach him how to speak. Lewis became deaf at the age of 5 from having scarlet fever. By that age, he already had a good vocabulary. He attended the Clark School for the deaf in Easthampton and it is there that he learned to lip read. He was so good at lip reading that as a child I was such a chatter box he could read my lips even when I was not face-on looking at him as I spoke. What is correct is the fact that he was an unusually strong man, as was my father Charles. I believe that was just in the family genes, but he was known as “the strong man of Chatham” There are many tales of his unusual strength told to us “grandkids” throughout the years involving his moving business, Tuttle's Cape Cod Express. My grandmother, Lewis’s wife Laurice, would sometimes go with him when he went into Boston to move a client as he did not like driving the big moving truck in the city because he could not hear. Laurice would do the driving of the big truck in the city. Laurice was a Penniman and was a direct relative of Captain Edward Penniman of the Penniman House in Eastham. There would be family reunions held there every five years, and as a child I remember attending one with my grandmother. So, those are the facts on "Nana and Grampa Tuttle."