On To More Serious Subjects
I am delighted to hear that skydiving is likely to resume over the well-litigated skies of Chatham this summer! Now the killjoys amongst us can turn their spurious wrath toward some other bugaboo, such as lawn mower noise.
Here's To Winter Storms
John Whelan's "Chatham on Foot" column continues to amaze with his photographic memory of the past. But frequently it also amuses. His recent comment about Chathamites' "inherent need to defy the adverse elements of nature" (to which I agree) conjured up to me a vision of some Eldredge or Howes or Nickerson standing on a windswept beach assisting in some way a mariner in distress. No doubt that still occurs but it seems what John says now happens more frequently is that in winter storms the hardy folk head to The Squire to drink!
West Berlin, Vt.
Looking For Airport Answers
Help me understand why our good selectmen kicked Paula Lofgren off the airport commission, its most valuable and most hard-working member—with no public word of thanks and for no known reason. Was it because she threatened to unravel the secret finances of the “self-supporting” airport, which costs us taxpayers millions of dollars? The selectmen recently reported many vacancies on town committees. Is it any wonder when self-sacrificing volunteers like Lofgren are abused in this way?
The feds, the state, and us locals have sunk these millions into the airport for unnecessary, expensive projects—with more to come. For 20 years, the FAA has tried to force the town to obey autocratic demands because of these “grants.” And why? So that a select few—wealthy enough to fly around in their own planes—can enjoy “aeronautical socialism.” Never in Chatham has so much been paid by so many to subsidize so few!
Also help me understand why the selectmen persistently pursue costly legal maneuvers in favor of skydiving—maneuvers against a significant group of its own citizens. Federal regulations prohibit skydiving over congested areas. (Our tight summer population grows to 30,000-plus.) And skydiving seriously shatters the peaceful enjoyment and very character of our town.
Finally, just how does the town profit from the airport from an “economic, public safety, and public convenience perspective,” as the selectmen aver? Sounds like PR hype, doesn’t it? I’ve been connected with Chatham for over 60 years and never witnessed any such broad profits—certainly not any balanced by the expenditure of so many millions of dollars.
J. Denis Glover
Harwich Children's Fund Gives Thanks
Last year, a passionate group of retired teachers and community members joined forces to start up The Harwich Children’s Fund, with The Friends of Harwich Youth as our partner. The Harwich Children’s Fund/Friends of Harwich Youth is a non-profit community collaborative made up of school and community partners, who provide periodic assistance for youth and families in need. Our sister agency is the Chatham Angel Fund. We would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for supporting our incredibly successful launch:
Robert B. Our, Inc., Robert Childs, Inc., Hot Stove Saloon, Christine R. Davis endowment to the Harwich Women’s Club, The Guild of Harwich Artists, Cape Cod Lavender Farm, Cranberry Harvest Festival, Harwich Chamber of Commerce, Harwich Mahjong Ladies, and to our private donors who wish to remain anonymous. Our village of amazing people has been so generous in getting our project off the ground.
For more information about the Harwich Children’s Fund, contact Harwich Youth Services at 508-430-7836 and leave a message.
Angie Chilaka, chairman
Sheila House, secretary
Harwich Children's Fund
Church Critic Owes No Apologies
I agree with Meg McCarthy even though I never met her.
For those of us who have been volunteers at Holy Redeemer (15 years in my case) and have been blessed with Father Buckley, Father Gallant and Father Scales, the whirlwind of Father Sullivan has not been very pleasant. While treating many seniors who are older than him as teenagers to be scolded, he has brought a degree of tension not solace to our church. He has also not told the truth. Several of my fellow parish members have commented to me about this.
His derisive and demeaning "Chatham Chuck" comments are also insulting.
Meg McCarthy owes no one an apology and I send her my very best regards.
Zoning Change Endangers Character
"The most unwanted social experiment in Chatham’s history” and “It is a developer’s dream. It is a neighbor’s nightmare” are quotes from last week's Chronicle. These were a citizen's statements at the Jan. 29 Chatham Board of Selectmen's meeting about the planning board's proposed zoning bylaw amendment to allow additional housing units, by right, on all lots in residential, small and general business districts.
The intent behind the board's amendment is to address the problem faced by young households with “moderate incomes,” either to buy or rent a house in Chatham. The way the planning board would solve this is by increasing housing supply; the more houses constructed, they assume, the more property values and rents will be reduced. Has any city or town ever attempted such an experiment without any control as to whether the new houses or rental units actually meet "moderate income" or "moderate rental" standards? And without any available effective enforcement mechanism?
Let's also think about what would happen if this were somehow successful, if house values and rentals were to fall because of over-supply relative to demand. There could be a serious impact on those of us for whom our homes are our most important financial asset. This is the asset we count on to get us through old age and have something to pass on to our children.
For housing to be available in all price ranges in all cities and towns in a capitalist economy is a national problem. What Chatham is attempting could appear appealing, but there is a lot at stake when it grossly overrides our protective zoning bylaw.
Would You, Could You Love A Gribble?
With humble gratitude, I thank you for the understanding you have shown a branch of my species in Kristin Andres’s Feb 1 Conservation Conversations article, “Don’t Loathe the Gribble.”
This cute, albeit misunderstood, little isopod chose its own path as we evolved on the family tree, and this has led it to a life of burrowing in and digesting wood of a maritime ilk. Unfortunately, this has lumbered it with the reputation as a pest while in truth it is only seeking its own destiny in this jungle we call life.
The path my branch of the species has chosen has of course led us to the human realm where we too are just seeking our own destiny. We do, however, retain an affinity with the wood-loving isopod, as the origin of the name Gribble refers to one who sleeps under a crabapple tree.
As we, both isopod and human, spread our roots throughout the world, we try to respect all other creatures and just ask that you don’t loathe the Gribble.
Chatham Needs Its Elementary School
Every other town on Cape Cod has its own elementary school.
It is important that Chatham retain its elementary school serving pre-K through grade four. Next Monday, Feb. 12, the board of selectmen will be voting on whether to change this. Harwich already has.
The elementary school is the heart of the community not just for young children and their families but for the whole town. We are seeking to attract and retain young families to work and live here. This move would undercut the vitality of the town.
For years, the Chatham schools have been an incoming school of choice precisely because it was small, in some years attracting up to $1 million annually from inbound school choice students.
There is a proposal to bifurcate Chatham children and their families, so that they would attend their first two to three years in Harwich, followed by a couple of years in Chatham (or vice versa). This might facilitate administration but would be wrong for the community. However:
"Without a change to our regional agreement, there can be no reconfiguration of how Monomoy educates its elementary students. Per the regional agreement, Chatham children are to attend Chatham Elementary School and Harwich children are to attend Harwich Elementary School. There is no provision within the agreement to think about reconfiguring the elementary schools to have children attend school in the other town, even if that may make good educational sense. Changes to the regional agreement need community input and require votes at both town meeting to ratify any changes proposed by the Monomoy Regional School Committee."
—Conversations on Elementary School Reconfiguration, posted by Scott Carpenter on Nov. 7.
Other towns support their elementary school with smaller enrollments, up to grade five: Truro (103), Wellfleet (112), Eastham (172), Orleans (223) and Provincetown (120 up to grade eight).
Chatham has 250 students (pre-K up to grade four). We need our own elementary school.
We urge all who care to attend next Monday’s selectmen’s meeting at 6 p.m.
Michael and Ann Westgate