Not The Town It One Was
It's lost its charm and affordability for the average family. A weekend visit averages $400 to $450 per night with a minimum of three nights. The Dolphin is gone. The Bradford Inn is gone. The Town House is gone. The Ridgevale Motel is gone. Chatham has demolished affordable accommodations and replaced them with $2 million residences or split the properties into multi condo units.The thought "let's drive to Chatham for the weekend" are over for the average family. The town is now marketed as a "tourist destination."
Chatham is owned and run by a powerful unelected political group comprised of major developers/investors, previous boards of selectmen and merchants. Per example, the merchants need more parking. A major developer buys the old garage property in the center of Chatham for $2.5 million, and then offers the property to town. If the town buys the property who is paying for the property? The taxpayers. The merchants benefit so they should pay for the parking not the ordinary taxpayer.
The fact of who runs the town of Chatham was proven during the last election for a position on the board of selectmen. Every major developer supported Ms. Davis with cash to her election committee, letters and ads. Why did none of their support go to Mr. Taylor? Ms. Davis does not believe the BOS has to follow the voter decisions made at the annual town meetings. The taxpayers voted to discontinue the West Chatham Project. She believes the votes were not legal. Ms. Davis believes the sale of drugs in Chatham would be good business. (She stated that in two debates).
Dumpster Ruins Village Approach
We are past the Memorial Day weekend where the first of thousands of visitors will be descending on the Cape. Imagine our dismay that year after year in the village of Harwich Port behind Post Office Square a big blue dumpster greets visitors as they enter the business district. Harwich Port, as you are aware, has really improved the village, most recently with the reconstruction of Cumberland Farms. The existing businesses have done much with signage and floral displays to increase the aesthetics of the village. Can't something be done to screen the dumpster behind Post Office Square?
Housing Crisis Needs To Be Addressed
Welcome to Cape Cod – but be prepared to handle the onslaught of challenges if you plan on living here year-round. Over the past few years, there has been a rapid and distinct change from the Cape Cod many knew growing up to the vile beast that we know now.
There is a housing crisis on Cape Cod. For many, homeownership is completely out of the question on the Cape. Home prices have been driven up by aggressive buying by people (many from out of state) who are looking to make as much money as possible renting out the homes as summer rentals. Not only does this affect those looking to buy, but it has made renting year-round on Cape Cod a pipe dream!
Rental rates are through the roof, especially if you are a family trying to fill the rooms of the home with non-rent paying children (what mooches!) and there are very limited options when it comes to “affordable” housing. There are no protections in place to prevent renters from being taken advantage of by avaricious landlords. Many of the properties that are being rented out are in exceptionally poor condition, but what is the alternative? To be homeless? Or to move away, as it seems many are doing?
The mass exodus caused by the lack of housing is reverberating through the community, with many businesses finding it difficult to obtain employees. Even at places offering a decent wage, there are shortages because it is too little for many people to get by on around here. Families are going where there are not only decent paying jobs, but also homes and rents that they can afford. What will businesses do without employees? Shutter their doors? How does that contribute to the prosperity of the area?
There need to be radical changes or the Cape will wither on the vine. There needs to be more oversight of rental properties (making sure they are inspected and up to code would be a great start, so that families and individuals aren’t living in dilapidated shacks for egregious amounts of money) and there need to be incentives to create year-round rentals so that the youth (the backbone of the workforce) can afford to live here. Perhaps a combination of tax breaks for landlords who rent their properties out year-round and an additional tax burden for properties that are used as seasonal rentals. Some towns are considering making summer rentals subject to the rooms tax, which is a great start.
A rising tide cannot lift all boats if some of the ships have already sailed.
Safe Communities Statement
This spring several of the town meetings held on Cape Cod included in their warrant consideration of designations as Safe Communities. This represents a desire to welcome immigrants and refugees, documented and undocumented, and others facing discrimination or worse, as residents or visitors to our towns, not just to welcome them, but to assist in meeting their basic human needs. It also represents a commitment not to use local financial and law enforcement resources for the apprehension or detaining of those who are undocumented, in part as a matter of good stewardship, a recognition that enforcement of federal law is the responsibility of federal authorities, and that current immigration laws may be unjustly defined and unjustly administered; and, while it does not apply to those charged with other crimes, it recognizes that they deserve the same fair treatment in our judicial system that we all expect.
For historic, biblical, theological and pastoral reasons we support the goals that such designations seek to achieve. As a people of faith, we remember that our spiritual ancestors were frequently “strangers in the land.” As God cared for them and called upon them to embrace the stranger in their midst, so we in turn feel a kinship with refugees and immigrants in our midst. We are a country of immigrants and refugees. We believe that our religious institutions are themselves communities where all people can and should feel safe, protected, nourished and served, and we believe our towns should be as well. Our Nauset Interfaith mission states in part: “Our mission is to work together for the common good of our wider community, especially with the poor, oppressed and marginalized.”
Therefore, we urge our clergy and lay leaders to address this topic in their faith communities, and that all of us reflect on the meaning and purpose of a “safe community” designation. We urge all town officials and residents to place this item on the agenda of the boards of selectmen at their next town meeting, and to allow for a full discussion and decision to be made by the people. Furthermore, we urge our town officials, employees, community leaders and citizens in all aspects of our community life to be aware of, reach out to, and befriend those who, too often, live on the margins in our communities. They often do the hard work, with little recognition, that underpins the comfort and community life of all of us.
Unanimously approved at the Nauset Interfaith Association meeting on May 11.
Nauset Interfaith Association
Signed The Rev. Ken Campbell and 30 others
Disputes Project Time Frame
Editorial comments following a Letter to the Editor from Dr. David Burns (May 18) were surprising and disappointing in their inaccuracy about the West Chatham Roadway Project. The Chronicle continues to confuse the actual time for this project.
The Chronicle states that MassDOT “imposes a winter work moratorium, so that its construction ‘seasons’ on the Cape cover the fall and spring, but not the winter and summer.” The fact is that while MassDOT normally has a moratorium during winter months, Chatham is dealing with an accelerated schedule, which provides for work during the winter and extends construction past the normal moratorium of Memorial Day to June 30, as well as beginning the fall season right after Labor Day. It also requires night and weekend work to meet the deadline, as well as multiple work zones and crews.
Third party utility work (Verizon, Comcast, Eversource, Open Cape), beginning Sept. 13, 2018 through the winter, is separate from – and in addition to – MassDOT’s two-year construction estimate, resulting in a minimum of two and a half years – from September 2018 through final completion on Feb. 15, 2021, when contractors would sign off.
This estimate assumes absolutely no delays for any reason, and is a significant departure from what the selectmen and public were told by Chatham’s DPW Director in January 2017 – that it would consume one spring and fall, and, at most, an additional spring for final paving.
The significant negative impact of this new timetable on residents, businesses, and tourism should not be ignored, underestimated, or dismissed.
Gloria M. Freeman
Offshore Drilling's Tainted History
Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty says that offshore drilling would be good for Cape Cod. He presents a skewed prediction of reduced energy costs and increased employment, all based on the American Petroleum Institute’s fantasy that the world would still be burning fossil fuel in 2035.
He ignores the fact that offshore oil-drilling has proven to be a dirty, unreliable business, with risks that far outweigh its questionable benefits. He overlooks the history of catastrophic oil spills that have ruined the health, beauty and economic viability of other tourism-driven coastal communities, destroyed critical habitats and species of fish, sea mammals and sea birds.
What can Mr. Beaty be thinking?
Blessing, Fest Helped By Many
On behalf of the Women of Fishing Families, I want to thank our fantastic town of Chatham for helping to celebrate our fishing fleet on Saturday! The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition we look forward to each year. Thank you Reverend Brian McGurk, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, and Reverend Joe Marchio, First Congregational Church, for beginning the day with your prayers and blessings. Thank you Sarah Marchio, the Monomoy Bell Choir, Brooke Linnell, Eliza Fitzgerald, Kate Murdoch and the Clancy Family-Chatham Fiddle Company for sharing your beautiful music with us during the ceremony.
The Fishermen's Festival that followed was filled with live music from Seafire Kids, Codsmack and Sarah Swain and the Oh Boys! We also wish to express our gratitude to all of the volunteers and sponsors, including Devil's Purse, Shop Ahoy Liquors, Chatham Fish Pier Market, Chatham Harbormaster, George's Fish Market, Cape Cod Canoli Truck, Chatham Shellfish Company, Watermark/TDP, Fishermen's Daughter, New England's Wild Fish Oil, Harmon's Clam Cakes, and Local Scoop. W.O.F.F. appreciates the fishermen and women who allowed us to takeover their workplace for the day, all to highlight the local fleet and what makes our town so special. We hope you can join us next year!
Women of Fishing Families