Questions Plans For Historic Home
The house at 271 Stage Harbor Rd. was a second home of sorts for me. That's why I was upset though not surprised when I read that the new owners want to demolish it. It took a strong stomach to watch their attorney nonchalantly claim that the present house doesn't fit in with the needs of their family. There was also a ridiculous assertion that the house is unlivable. Does it need work? Yes. Is it uninhabitable? Absolutely not.
Their attorney claims that his client did well for himself and is wealthy. Generally speaking, wealth equals options. The current owners made a deliberate choice to buy this property knowing the condition of the house. The thing about the property at 271 Stage Harbor Rd. is that it doesn't have a water view. The house doesn't stand on five acres. It doesn't have a separate guesthouse, swimming pool or four-car garage. Its main attraction is that upon it stands a well-lived-in antique home on a road lined with other well-lived-in antique homes. What confuses me is how, in the span between viewing the house and closing on it, did the house no longer "fit into their plans." Did it ever? Judging from the letters read at the historical commission meeting, the new owners certainly have not endeared themselves to anyone, least of all their neighbors by coming to the neighborhood with the bulldozer in tow. And why is it that Chatham is continually bastardized by almost always the same developers (or their kin) and protected by the same hawkish attorneys?
More Airport Monkey Business
Another "wink-wink, nod-nod" from the airport commission, board of selectmen and FAA:
At the very controversial FAA "closed" firehouse meeting with three members of the board of selectmen and the whole airport commission, I'm told the board and commission members were theoretically not allowed to express any opinion or raise any question regarding "public business"—before or after.
This misses the point entirely. The FAA representatives were allowed to express their opinions about "grant assurances," one central basis for promoting skydiving. So the meeting inevitably included skydiving de facto, an issue now in the courts, and should not have been held nor attended.
This fiction tempts one to quote Joseph Welch's comment to McCarthy: "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" But it's just more of the usual monkey business associated with the governance of the airport.
J. Denis Glover
Letter Gets Airport Facts Wrong
As a member of the airport commission, I have heard and read commentaries like Susan N. Wilcox’s letter in last week’s Chronicle, and until I did some extensive research, thought there might be something to them. My research, as well as working with Tim Howard during my time on the commission, has convinced me the correct decision was made for the town of Chatham and for the Chatham Municipal Airport in renewing Howard’s contract.
Ms. Wilcox makes several statements in her letter, some of which are factually incorrect and some show lack of understanding of general aviation airport management.
What Airport Commissioner Peter Donovan and Howard did was negotiate the new contract, exactly what would be expected considering their roles. And then the completed document was reviewed by town counsel, the town manager and every member of the commission, some of which led to further negotiations. Any appearance of “conflict of interest” – and there has never been any evidence of such – was mitigated by the number of reviews the agreement went through. The contract was discussed in a public meeting, voted on publicly and is a public document. The entire process was quite transparent.
As for contract length – it is 10 years, not 20 (the option for continuance is at the discretion of both parties and is not automatic).
The contract is favorable for both parties – Howard is able to manage the airport seven days a week and profitably run his businesses, while the town receives excellent dollar value (I made an extensive presentation during the April 4 airport commission meeting on the fiscal irresponsibility of the town taking over management responsibilities). Ms. Wilcox sites hangar fees, which are part of Howard’s compensation, as an example of how the deal favors Howard, but she fails to mention his monthly payments to the town as airport manager or how 10 of the hangars – the Home for Airplanes section, which he built with his money – will become town property (with all its income). And he is not collecting all the leases on all town-owned hangars for the next 20 years (factual error)!
As for questions about combining the airport-manager role with that of fixed-base operator (FBO), this is common in Massachusetts at airports like ours because it makes fiscal and operational sense for Chatham and many other communities. And this arrangement has been reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation without any concern.
The strongest case for renewing Tim Howard’s contract beyond the numbers is simple – he brings a passion and love for the work he does for this town which would be very difficult to duplicate.
Thank You, Stealth Elves
We would like to thank the “Stealth Elves” for their delicious chocolate chip cookies. You came into the office so fast all decked out in your elf outfits that we didn't get a chance to say “thank you.” We wanted you to know you brightened up our afternoon! Thanks for thinking of us!
Mark T. Vokey Insurance Agency
Waterways User Fee Unfair
I have just had the unhappy chore of paying my waterways user fee. Every year or so it is something else to put more burden on those who are not part of the exclusive club that Chatham has become. I have had a mooring in Chatham for 36 years, ever since Skip Hall stuck a pin on a map and said this is your spot. Several years ago the waterways committee decided that even though I pay for a mooring, I could not park in the Barn Hill town landing from July through September. You see, even though my family had been in this town since the beginning, I did not have the coveted taxpayer sticker on my windshield. A compromise was worked out with the help of a member of the board of selectmen letting me post my mooring permit on my dashboard thus gaining me access to park. This changed last year. When I went to the waterways committee and asked that the compromise be re-instated, the crickets in the room were deafening. I was told that if I were allowed to park in the lot next to my mooring it would open the door to the "hordes" of outsiders. One other gentleman from Harwich complained also. It seems we were a horde of two.
Now along with my mooring permit fee I pay an additional $150 dollars to use the water under my boat. Many of the projects listed that will benefit from this fee I will probably not have access to, due to my low status as a non-taxpayer. I am told my money will "reduce/supplement the contribution from the tax base." I will help subsidize the wealthy as Chatham lets them tear down the town and rebuild it in a gentrified cartoon of itself.
I will gladly pay this new tax if it was the same for all and was put to use for the benefit of all, such as putting law enforcement back on the water and reining in the wild, wild west that is evident on the water in the summer, especially on weekends.
Chatham has become the "quaint fishing village” with too much self esteem.
Attitude Drove Trump Support
I do not know Juliet Bernstein but over the years I have read her letters in The Chronicle. They usually have been very thoughtful and I have respected and admired her convictions even while not agreeing with them. But Juliet went over the top in her recent letter to The Chronicle.
Her words and thoughts revealed more about why Trump won the election than she may realize. Calling supporters of Trump “neo-Nazi American whites,” “deplorables,” “fossil fuel titans” exposes an attitude that says “We know best so shut up and keep paying your taxes,” but please keep building our houses, fixing our vehicles, producing and supplying our fuel, keep planes flying so I can travel, and make sure you defend the country so I can be free to belittle your beliefs.
As the results of this election showed, there are millions of people all across this country who are fed up with being ignored and told what is best for them and what to believe. It is that “elitist attitude” so exemplified by Juliet Bernstein's letter that drove much of the support for Donald Trump.
Keep up the good work, Juliet, and maybe we will have eight more years of Trump.
Demand Pilgrim Plant Closure
We can be thankful that our newspapers across Cape Cod have kept us informed on the irresponsible and deteriorating situation at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station – and its standing as one of the three most dangerous nuclear facilities in the nation. They have kept us abreast of the plant’s relentless shutdowns due to faulty equipment and appalling lapses in safety protocols. This coverage has also told us of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s abject failure year after year to force Pilgrim to operate safely, making sitting ducks of us all should the unthinkable happen at Pilgrim.
But now even the NRC is very concerned due to its current inspections at the plant, as revealed in an alarming internal email sent by mistake to Cape Downwinders. Therefore, this citizen watchdog group is once again calling for the immediate shutdown of Pilgrim. We citizens can act individually as well by telling Gov. Charlie Baker to be bold in demanding that the NRC revoke Pilgrim’s license immediately (617-725-4005); likewise, Senator Elizabeth Warren (617-565-3170), Senator Edward Markey (617-565-8519), and Congressman William Keating (508-771-0666). Every voice matters!
Upon closure of Pilgrim, we would continue to receive our power from other sources, as we now do when Pilgrim shuts down. Further, this closure would hasten the adoption of renewable energy in our region, combining nature’s power and the ingenuity of our scientists and workers.
Cape Downwinders, led by Diane Turco, is organizing a citizen action event, Mobilize4Survival, on Jan. 9, the day NRC inspectors return for further scrutiny of Pilgrim. I urge all who care about the Cape’s future to make those phone calls and to watch the news media for how you can participate further in Monday’s timely cry for action, at last.
Don't Dictate W. Chatham Landscaping
I am writing in response to Mr. Leavitt’s You Guest It article of Dec. 22. He and the West Chatham Village Association believe Route 28 in West Chatham is terribly unsafe and if the roadway isn’t fixed ASAP there will be several more accidents. Apparently the “modern” roundabouts will fix this. Mr. Leavitt then goes on to talk about landscaping the area before this project has even started – if it ever will. He says the state doesn’t want to foot the bill. I don’t believe the taxpayers want to foot it either. More importantly, I don’t understand why a select group of individuals feel they need to have a say about landscaping property that is privately owned. I speak for myself and my family when I say we do not appreciate anyone telling or even suggesting to us how we may landscape our property and what to plant. I am sure I speak for several other property owners as well.
One only needs to take a look at the conservation property the town purchased of the former George N. Harding property. The town can’t even maintain that – let alone a much bigger area. I also do not appreciate my tax dollars being spent on meetings for town staff to attend and be paid discussing this premature landscaping project.
Route 28 in West Chatham is never, ever going to be like downtown Chatham. The town needs to take care of the property it has. To quote Mr. Leavitt, “one can’t always get what they want.” You can try, but you won’t succeed in telling property owners how to landscape their property.