Letters To The Editor: March 7, 2024

by Cape Cod Chronicle Readers

Community Pool A Wonderful Resource


While I strongly favor a community pool at the Harwich Community Center, I would urge the proposers to revise their description in advance of the town meeting, if possible. An “Olympic-sized” pool is 50 meters long, 10 lanes wide, a couple of meters deep — all of which is oversized for a community pool and makes it less favorable, in certain respects, for community use. I would suggest that the description of the size we want is “suitable for high school competition, lessons and aquatic exercise” — which would likely mean 25 yards longs, with a good width (10 still sounds great, but too specific for a town meeting article and possibly more than we wish to pay for), so that lap swimming and other pool use both have sufficient space. The Sandwich community pool is 25 yards by six lanes. A community pool would be a wonderful resource for people of all ages.

Vicki Goldsmith


South Chatham Not Misinformed


The Chronicle letter of Feb. 29, where a member of the select board stated that the South Chatham Village Association was misinformed about not having a voice in developing the affordable housing trust’s request for proposal (RFP) for the Meetinghouse Road affordable housing development, was simply unfounded. There needs to be some clarification. One member of the housing trust, who happens to live in South Chatham and is not a member of the South Chatham Village Association, does not represent nor speak for South Chatham. The letter we sent to the affordable housing trust was agreed upon by 100 members of our association, including officers and members of the SCVA board of directors, and despite our best efforts to contribute to the RFP, our comments and desires fell on deaf ears as was demonstrated time and again at the affordable housing trust meeting.

I think we all feel the love for our “beloved” village. I’m sure many people remember that South Chatham was known and is still sometimes referred to as the stepchild of Chatham. I appreciate her fond reminiscing of South Chatham, but residents had little say about Commerce Park, the pumping station, the McGrath junk yard, etc. No doubt all of us love and want to preserve South Chatham and have to make difficult and complex decisions to keep the integrity of South Chatham and move forward. Feeling as tied to South Chatham as professed, I am sure she will make it her mission to limit the density and give South Chatham the vibrant sustainable community as promised.

Carol Gordon

South Chatham

FAA Won’t Require Payback


The Chatham Airport Commission is seeking a variance from the conservation commission to remove mature trees in the vicinity of a protected vernal pool on airport property. The concom has been holding a series of public hearings in consideration of the proposal. Commissioner Mary Sullivan recently asked what would happen if the commission denied permission for the tree removal. Airport consultant Engineer Mark Ottariano of Gale Associates told the commissioner that "the airport and the town have promised to follow through with these certain [grant] assurances when they take money from the FAA. They would have to pay back the money.” Ottariano is simply wrong. As an airport consultant he should know better.

In accepting FAA grants for airport improvements, the town agreed to 39 obligations called grant assurances. If the town fails to comply with any of these obligations the FAA, at its discretion, can find the town ineligible for grants for airport projects in the future. But there is no provision under federal law to force the town to pay back past grant monies due to a finding of non-compliance with FAA grant assurances, and the FAA has never done so. The FAA is on record as such.

The commission can rest assured that if it decides in the favor of the trees, the FAA will not require the town to pay back past airport grant funds.

David Bixby

West Chatham

Officials Not Listening To Constituents


I am responding to the letter you published in your Feb. 29 edition from Shareen Davis, a member of Chatham’s Select Board and Affordable Housing Trust, concerning affordable housing proposed for Meetinghouse Road in South Chatham (“Affordable Housing Benefits Whole Town”). Despite similar demographics, Chatham is woefully behind Orleans in achieving the state-mandated goals for affordable housing. Orleans has looked to under-utilized town property and repurposing of existing buildings as well as entirely new development to meet its goal and has distributed such housing around town. Recent Chatham proposals have sought to destroy valuable woodlands, place affordable housing in a water resource area and concentrate proposals in one area of town, South Chatham.

Now, to catch up, the affordable housing trust, with select board endorsement, is proposing highest density apartment blocks for Meetinghouse Road without regard for open space, a playground and safety of the occupants, the young families with children we are trying to attract. The survey of Chatham citizens done recently revealed this type of design to be the most disliked, yet it will become a model for other affordable housing in Chatham. Recently it seems our select board doesn’t take into account the constituencies they serve, whether it’s regarding airport expansion, a facility for our aged population or affordable/attainable housing.

John Sweeney

South Chatham

Nonprofit Embraces Community Pool


The upcoming “pool petition” article for the town of Harwich, and the editorial “Pooling Resources” were great to read. Thank you!

I have been actively in the trenches of market analysis for aquatic programming on the Cape for the past six years (as long as my oldest child has been alive). I am also aware that “town lines” don’t necessarily define where a family may drive for a swim on (or off!) the Cape. I’ve driven to Sandwich and West Barnstable many times, and am currently waitlisted as #43 for a spot in a club that uses an Eastham pool.

I understand the coverage area for The Chronicle. However, there have been other recent efforts on the same topic (by another Harwich resident just two years ago in her attempt to regionalize the need, or a Dennis resident in 2018) that should be reported. And that brings us to a group that was established in 2023:

Upstream Aquatics is a group of Cape residents with a mission to create skill, safety-based swim programs. By embracing this mission, their belief is that the community has the opportunity to be active in water from infancy to elderly. They believe that water-based active recreation programs and safety programs make a positive difference in the lives of our community. In order to pursue this, as a new nonprofit, they envision building a community pool! Please visit their website at upstreamaquatics.org

Carolyn Burnett


Board Should Quantify Housing Goals


Who are the people whom Chatham residents need most to ensure their quality of life? These are Chatham police officers, firefighters, town and school staff, fishermen and fisherwomen and most of Chatham’s two-earner families. Attainable housing, also known as missing middle housing, is designed to satisfy Chatham’s critical housing need for families who can’t qualify for affordable or workforce housing because they earn more than the qualifying income but less than enough to buy a market priced home in Chatham’s price-inflated housing market.

In its goals and objectives adopted in January, the select board set forth its year-round housing goal as “Over the next five years 200 units of affordable/attainable/ workforce housing will be added around Chatham.” That is a worthy and important goal and one that most Chatham citizens support. However, the goal is stated in general terms and does not express any distribution among affordable, attainable and workforce housing. It is important that the select board do so and here’s why.

In the affordable housing trust’s plan for Meetinghouse Road, all the housing, whether it is 35, 50 or more units, must by law and the seller’s request be all affordable and workforce housing. In the affordable housing trust’s plan for the Buckley Main Street property, all the potentially 60 or more units in their plan will almost certainly be only affordable or workforce housing because the affordable housing trust has not required a single attainable housing unit to be built there. Those two projects can be expected to satisfy at least half the select board’s goal with no attainable housing at all.

What is needed is for the select board to quantify how much of each type of housing will satisfy its goal. More importantly, the select board must ensure that future housing projects on town-owned land include enough attainable housing units to meet its goal because no attainable housing can be built on housing trust land.

Carol Kolb

South Chatham

Make A Splash With Pool


Yes, we are all addicted! It is the reason we live here: water. There is a broad interest in having a year-round indoor swimming facility on the Lower Cape. Swim lessons for our children, competitive swimming for our youth, and recreational fitness swimming for all adults. Upstream Aquatics, a newly formed non-profit is actively pursuing this objective, year-round swimming for everyone. Please see upstreamaquatics.org and let's everyone “jump in” creating a “splash” to have a pool everyone can enjoy!

Patrick Otton


Editor’s note: The writer is the sponsor of a Harwich Town Meeting petition to gauge voter interest in building a pool at the community center.

Year-rounders Endorse Community Pool


We wholly concur with The Chronicle’s recent editorial about sharing the cost of a new indoor pool among several towns. There is great demand for an additional indoor swimming option on the Lower Cape. Apportioning the cost of building and maintaining an indoor pool would not only make it an affordable undertaking but also provide availability for the residents of more than one town. We heartily endorse the idea of a collaborative effort with the participation of Harwich, Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster. A cooperative endeavor could make this happen. Let’s do it!

This letter is endorsed by year-round residents of Harwich, Orleans, Brewster, and Chatham: Michele Granger, Orleans; Paula Nickerson Ploch, Harwich Port; Anne Durso, Chatham; Susanne Strenz-Thibault, Orleans; Susan Chapman, Brewster; John Ruggiero, Brewster; Gunilla Lacoche, Chatham; Kathy Hoefer, Orleans; Carol Hayward, Orleans

Michele Granger


There’s Gold In That Compost


The Garden Club of Harwich thanks you for your “Harwich Gold” compost order and your support. We are no longer accepting orders because we sold out!

If your order has been submitted but did not make the cut, your check will be returned to you. Happy planting!

Gerie Schumann

Harwich Port