Letters to the Editor, Oct. 26

Churches Provide Storm Relief


On Oct. 1 and 2, 11 churches came together to load 3.5 tons of emergency supplies onto a trailer bound for Houston. The project was planned and implemented in two and a half weeks, and we would like to thank the people who helped.

Project leader Bob DeBoer reached out to a family member who is active in the First Baptist Church of Houston. This large church, actively involved in relief efforts, provided a list of emergency supplies needed. We in turn shared that list with as many Lower Cape churches as we could think of – and they responded with great heart.

Thanks to RPM Carpet for a generous cash donation, and to Ace Hardware of Harwich for an amazing donation of cleaning supplies. Thanks to the Chatham Village Market for a discount on bottled water, and to their employees for lugging it all up the stairs!

Thanks to the team leaders at each church who communicated with their congregations and did a lot of heavy lifting. A profound thank you to the generous people in each church, and in the community, who donated cash and goods.

The biggest thanks of all go to Dan Meservey who volunteered his trailer and his time to drive to Houston—1,900 miles each way—to help us all support the hurricane-ravaged communities of Houston. Our contacts in Houston were very grateful. Carrie Moore, the family member who got us started, said “Even though y'all are so far away, I hope you can feel our tight hugs to you and your family/friends.  We are so thankful for what you are doing. Thank you again for your sweet efforts.”

Churches and team leaders include First Congregational Church of Chatham, Bob DeBoer (project leader), Alison Kaar (communications aide); Brewster Baptist Church, Jill Scalise; Cape Cod Bible Alliance, Myron Hackman; Christian Science of Harwich, Melody Gulow and Brad Bivens; First United Methodist Church of Chatham, Robin Rank; Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Chatham, Margie Stenberg; Church of Latter Day Saints, Brewster, Luanne Tribastone, Steve Locke; Pilgrim Congregationalist Church, Harwich, Cindy Eldredge; St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Chatham, Larry Jobson, Bob Braman; St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Harwich, Juliet and Paul Bongfeldt, Sharon Ness; Unitarian Universalist Church of Chatham, Janice Bianculli, Barbara Blanchard, and Mary Chestnut.

Alison Kaar



Roundabout Is A Better Alternative


The following letter was sent to the Chatham Board of Selectmen:

I am writing to request that you extend the time for discussion on the Crowell Road intersection beyond Oct. 20. The recent public meeting was very disturbing. Everyone thought that there was going to be a genuine discussion of the issues of the two proposals, which have been on display for weeks at the town hall and the annex, and not a closed issue. It was repeated that the basis for adopting traffic lights instead of a roundabout was the issue of drainage and grading. When we asked Thomas Currier of MASS DOT after the meeting the basis for this, he said that he based it on the report of a consultant, but he did not have a copy of the report, which is incredible, when it is the key to this whole discussion. He has promised to obtain a copy of this report and send it to the town. It is clearly essential to review this report before making a final decision about how to proceed.

Thomas Currier comments in his email to us are illuminating. He states, “Roundabouts have inherent traffic calming geometry, are safer than signalized intersections and prevent many of the accident types occurring there.  They are more attractive too.” This agrees with what Keri Pyke said. Elaine Gibbs made a very thorough analysis of the negatives of traffic lights, relating to traffic flow and pedestrian safety, and that they would be totally out of character in Chatham. So the issue hangs on a drainage problem asserted in a report, which neither the principals possess, nor anybody in Chatham has seen.

Having been round many more roundabouts in our lifetime than probably any resident of Chatham, we know that they can be graded to suit almost any terrain. My husband is currently generating the topology of the Crowell Road intersection using LIDAR data, amazingly accurate to better than an inch of elevation. Let’s get real, would the plaza of a lighted intersection not have to be graded to match the local grades and have viable drainage? We know that there is no local problem currently as evidenced by the six inches of recent rain.

We cannot reject the option of a more effective, pedestrian safe and attractive roundabout without full disclosure. We must review the consultant’s report and get a second opinion if necessary.

Margaret E Tompsett MD



Just Say No To More Cars


The state is pushing to remake downtown Chatham. Engineers are planning to turn the entrance to downtown into suburban-style East Harwich: bigger, wider roads, longer and more hazardous crosswalks, sidewalks not buffered from speeding traffic, traffic lights suspended over Main Street on giant metal posts that send signals to more than drivers. They signal more automobile dominance over pedestrians and the streetscape, more summer congestion downtown.
The quirky intersection at Main Street and Crowell Road could stand an update. But do we want downtown remade in the image of suburbia? We've been through this before when the state first insisted on building an all-concrete-and-steel bridge to replace the historic wooden Mitchell River bascule bridge. Selectmen and town officials, encouraged by residents, said no, resulting in a better bridge for Chatham. Chatham residents said no to more downtown congestion at a public meeting with state officials recently. We hope selectmen and town officials will say no and work with the state as Route 28 is updated. There are other, better alternatives than East Harwich.
Chatham's culture emphasizing historic preservation is universally admired. We have earned the right to demand a higher standard from the state, one that respects our community's record of accomplishment preserving the historic integrity of our small town. Harwich selectmen learned the hard way. After watching East Harwich become a pedestrian no-man's land, they said no when the state later wanted to widen Route 124, guaranteeing more speeding traffic in Harwich.

Just say no to automobile dominance in Chatham!

Rick Leavitt


Design Would Ruin Rural Heritage


During two public “information” presentations regarding the Crowell Road/Route 28 intersection project, not once did HSH engineers or MASS DOT mention that their recommended design (alternative three, new signals) will almost double the width of paved area to the east and west of the Route 28 intersection, with removal of all trees lining Main Street at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, losing significant  green space from the front, north and south sides to pavement.  At least one of the spectacular specimen dogwoods at the  Queen Anne intersection will be removed, possibly both in the end.  Apparently it’s up to the public to ask the right questions. If we don’t, we do so at our peril.

Selectmen should be alarmed at this proposed urban  "aircraft carrier runway" design that shows no regard for our rural heritage. I cannot imagine any of them were aware of the shocking loss of trees and green space and the drastic expansion of pavement and still vote that it is the only viable alternative. 

The only way to visualize the real impact of any design  is to have the entire project construction area staked out on Route 28 and Queen Anne, with elevation graphics provided, to see the location/extent of  the state right-of way and town land taking, exactly what will be lost, and the irreversible and massive expansion of paved surface, before a green light is given any “alternative” to proceed to the 25 percent design stage. 

Elaine Gibbs



Plan Bikeways For Future

Regarding the recent draft Chatham Bike Plan “listening session,” I would submit that the planning officials and committees should think long-term and multi-town as they develop their plans. Think in terms of 20 to 40 years – years that will see significant changes to Route 28 in the Pleasant Bay and Ryder's Cove area due to sea level rise caused by global climate change as predicted by scientists.
Route 28, a state highway, will inevitably be raised up through time to avoid the flooding that will overwash and degrade the current road in a number of locations. The combined towns of Chatham, Harwich, Brewster and Orleans (The Pleasant Bay Alliance towns) should work in a joint effort to ensure that bikeway and walkway side lanes are added to Route 28 in the coming road building years. Safety will be enhanced. Think what a pleasure it would be if bikers could link the current Cape Cod Rail Trail (with the Chatham spur) to a Ryder's Cove and Pleasant Bay seashore route that would go along Route 28 between Chatham and Orleans. A beautiful circle-route bikeway would result including both the inland and the coastal beauty of these towns.

Think big and long-term for future bike and walking paths in this four-town area. Seek support from the state, think of safety for the many summer workers riding or walking to work along the town and state roadways between Chatham and Orleans. I am confident that the state legislative delegation will be very supportive if the planning is long-term, focused on safety, and demonstrates regional cooperation.

Walter McClennen