Chatham Deserves Better
Last Monday’s town meeting was special. In addition to the usual housekeeping articles, voters chose not to listen to the negative noise and instead opted for preservation for the town: the Eldredge Garage and a conservation lot off Barn Hill Road. We also corrected an inadvertent error made by our assessors and staff. We all make mistakes. To the town’s credit, the error was acknowledged and a simple article to right the wrong was supported by three selectmen, the entire finance committee and almost unanimously (two obvious nays) by voters.
This simple issue however, brought about the low point of town meeting. First, Selectman Love refusing to accept the town’s responsibility in this matter and then the unfortunate spectacle of Selectman Taylor railing against the town accepting its mistake and instead attempting to blame the homeowner, Habitat for Humanity and others. He even resorted to a strange “Monopoly Game” comparison to imply the homeowner was gaining some financial advantage, a complete misrepresentation of the facts. His public disrespect of this upstanding member of our community was outrageous but reflects his consistent use of his position as a bully pulpit for his negative agenda. Chatham deserves better.
More On W. Chatham Debate
Seth Taylor led a small group of Chatham residents at a meeting of state highway officials recently. Seth lobbied hard to stop the West Chatham Main Street project. This was not the first time we listened to their discontents. This time, however, the group embarrassed themselves and Chatham by attempting to mislead state officials with alternative-facts.
Some really big whoppers:
“Construction will take five years.”
State highway officials have repeatedly said that construction will be substantially complete in two seasons, with no road closings and no work during the busy summer season.
“Construction costs have escalated from $1.5 million to over $4 million.”
Construction costs were estimated and funded by the state six years ago at $3.5 million. Cost inflation raised today’s estimate to $4 million, comparing favorably to $12 million for the Mitchell River Bridge and $6 million for the Muddy Creek Bridge.
“The project is not needed.”
The project involves reconstructing a quarter mile of West Chatham village center with sidewalks, bike path, street trees, pedestrian lighting, modern roundabouts at George Ryder Road and Barn Hill Road.
“Ninety percent of local businesses are opposed.”
Forty local businesses signed and published a petition supporting the town’s plan to revitalize West Chatham village center, making the center business friendly with a new, safer Main Street.
“No safety issues exist in West Chatham.”
Tell that to the neighbors. Crashes have sent people to the hospital.
State highway officials listened with incredulous looks on their faces. They took no action. Bid requests are scheduled for November.
West Chatham Village and Business Neighborhood Association
W. Chatham Needs To Change
Contrary to many writers of letters to this paper, I am willing to admit to not being an amateur road engineer, traffic expert or landscape designer. However, I have practical experience with the West Chatham roadway in question. My wife, daughter and I live off Barnhill Road and as a group we, by our extensive travel through the area, do have some perspectives.
I have seen comments about a lack of serious accidents and the area not being designated as a “high crash” area. Does that mean, by extension, there are no safety issues? Of course not. Using that logic, since I have not had a house fire, I should not have make preparations if one occurs.
Let me tell you, I have had multiple opportunities, as I sit and wait to turn left, to “observe” drivers' behaviors. They speed, don’t yield, pass in the turning lane, use the Shop Ahoy Plaza accesses to Route 28 to bypass waiting on line to make turns (often with trailers) from both directions. This does not only happen during the summer; I witnessed it yesterday. To my eye, there are just way too many places where drivers can ingress and egress out of roads, businesses, and other places in that stretch. I would even bet, if there was a video camera there, that I might find several the petition signers doing this as well. I have seen town of Chatham trucks doing it.
I understand the merchant’s concerns about both allowing customers to frequent their businesses during construction should this project happen. I understand that the cost of the project has increased. I am also unsure that two rotaries will help the problems.
What I do know is that the area is a problem. It is unsafe. Chatham has changed since it was designed. Traffic has changed, this area hasn’t. Having been coming here for over 50 years, it looks very much the same, and could use some “sprucing up” in addition to making it safer. Walkers and bike riders take their life in their hands here.
What I don’t understand is this disbelief that a problem exists, and that the opponents are unwilling to make a compromise. What I am not sure of is this claim of “numerous and powerful and therefore sustained pressure” continuing. No one knocked on my door and asked my thoughts. I never was asked to sign a petition.
I hope that someone does not make the “no fatal crashes have happened” pitch by those opposed wrong.
We Are Stronger Together
The Jan. 21 Women’s March was a huge success. Suddenly, the younger women who have taken their rights for granted realize they may be lost. Older women, many of whom are now deceased, have worked for generations to gain these rights. “Women’s rights ARE human rights”
And we must not forget Susan B. Anthony whose birthday is Feb. 15. Born in North Adams in 1820, she spent most of her adult life working to get the vote for women. She voted illegally in Rochester, N.Y., where she was living, although never prosecuted. She worked from 1848, since the Women’s Rights conference in Seneca Falls, N.Y., which now has a Women’s Rights Center, a National Park, but never saw the 19th amendment enacted because she died in 1906. She said, “It will come,” which it did in 1920.
I will never forget having gone to the polls in 1920 when my mother voted for the first time. I could not vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt the first time he ran because I was not yet 21, the legal age then, changed later with another amendment to the Constitution to 18. Perhaps that is why women of my generation continue to vote. We must constantly be on the alert to see that no rights are taken away, whether voting rights, civil rights or human rights. “We ARE stronger together.”
Juliet R. Bernstein
The New Gilded Age
The framers of our government, in the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, placed a ban on all gifts or “emoluments...of any kind whatsoever.” The Justice Department defines an emolument as any “profit or gain arising from station, office, or employment, reward, remuneration, salary.” Trump has not divested himself of his businesses and his continued conflicts of interest make him unfit for office.
Trump’s business interests are hidden, but any rival firm suffering business losses because of Trump’s misuse of his office for personal gain can sue him. The ACLU has filed FOIA requests and Trump faces legal actions targeting his violation of the emoluments clause. Such actions will bring to light his corrupt uses of his office to enrich himself and his family.
We Americans have grown used to dealing with corrupt government, but with Trump’s inauguration we entered a new Gilded Age. Trump thinks that handing off management of his global business interests to his son and to his longtime employee is enough to remove any taint of corruption. This transparent fiction is as meaningless as the piles of manila folders used as props when the handoff was announced. Trump must divest or he must go.
Matthew R. Brown
Column Sparks Chatham Memories
Reading John Whelan's “Chatham on Foot” article in The Chronicle on the Hawes House (Dec. 21) brought to mind memories of Chatham in the 1950s. My grandmother (and great grandmother before) lived at 66 Queen Anne Rd. next to May Wheeler (Cozy Holme) so I spent my summers at Oyster Pond Beach where I met Tommy Doane. It was Tommy Doane that took me to meet Freeman Howes who needed a kitchen boy that summer of 1958. I was hired and thus began the best summer job I ever had for three years.
I rode my bike to work, reporting at 7:30 a.m. with sweeping the porches of the three buildings, my first job. Freeman would have potatoes he wanted peeled waiting for me in a small room off the basement kitchen. If there was ice cream to be made, I would monitor the progress with ice and salt if needed. The remainder of the morning I would assist Freeman and clean the downstairs kitchen before serving the noon meal. Breakfast was usually prepared upstairs.
Once the guests were served I would eat my lunch in a corner of the upstairs kitchen. After cleaning any serving pans and making the kitchen ready for serving the evening meal I was off until 5 p.m. Many days I would stay and use the Hawes House beach.
Growing up in Chatham in the 1950s was a remarkable experience that you thought would never change. Not being a “townie,” I was tolerated by Tommy, Chick McCalister, Donny Cahoon and Arnie Germino and knew my place at the beach parties!
Memories of Howard Johnson's, the bakery next to the Hardware before the roundabout, the “Surfbird” roaring into the Oyster Pond, the Wymans' house at Oyster Pond and George's 1936 Ford Woody, Ben Buck's 1932 Ford Roadster and all of the beautiful Cape Cod houses that were lived in 12 months a year.
Our family is celebrating 100 years of Cape Cod starting in South Orleans and ending in Chatham. I have been coming to Chatham for 71 years with three children and seven grandchildren. I can only hope the wonderful family experiences on Cape Cod will continue!
Trotting Is Hard Work
We thank John Whelan for his kind words about the Chatham Turkey Trot in The Cape Cod Chronicle.
We have a rave review of our own. Since the beginning, we have been fortunate to have had the help and support of Jennifer and Jon Watson of Harwich, Jennifer and George Avery of Harwich Port, Sue Carroll of Chatham and Robert Redding of Chatham. This hard-working team, along with our many local volunteers, both old and young, have made the Turkey Trot what it is today.
Disappointed In Coverage Disparity
One could hardly turn a page of this newspaper a few weeks ago without finding some reference to, or photo of, that multi-city event on Jan. 21 collectively referred to as the Women’s March. The March was a peaceful embodiment of some of our most cherished liberties – the freedoms of speech and assembly, and the right to petition our government for the redress of grievances.
I understand and appreciate your decision to cover this event extensively. The March was an important news story widely reported across the country and throughout the world. However, what struck me was that the very next week, this newspaper – at least the Harwich edition – contained not a single reference to the annual March for Life held on Jan. 27.
The disparity in coverage is remarkable, and, frankly, disappointing.