Why Pay To Keep Young Families In Chatham?
My husband and I have been summer residents and taxpayers of Chatham for over 30 years. As summer residents while paying our full share of taxes we have limited powers related to voting for issues. This in itself is often frustrating as we read about some of the activities of the town governing bodies that we do not agree with and seem to be a waste of our tax dollars.
After reading recent articles in the Chronicle I have two major concerns about the use of our tax dollars.
The first deals with the proposal by the town's economic development committee and Chatham 365 Task force to provide families, regardless of financial need, with pre-K student vouchers up to $6,000. As a taxpayer I am strongly against this proposal. Besides the few towns mentioned on the Cape in the article, this subsidy in towns and cities throughout Commonwealth is based on need. Giving such a large subsidy to those who do not need is ridiculous and wasteful. I would rather have my hard-earned dollars go to my own family for their childcare expenses than to go to families who can well afford to pay themselves.
My second concern is this overarching theme that comes up repeatedly in the paper related to affordable housing and a strong concern to keep young families in Chatham. Aside from the laws that govern the requirement for cities and towns to provide a certain amount of affordable housing, I am not sure why Chatham is placing so much additional effort to keep those who cannot afford to live in Chatham as residents. The only reason I can come up with is to preserve the school system which until regionalization occurred was an expense that was out of control.
In towns around Boston people live where they can afford to live. Families who cannot afford to live in Winchester or Weston or Wellesley find localities for residences that fit their budget. This over-concern with keeping families in Chatham when they cannot afford to live there is foreign to what is going on in every other community in the state. I would love to live during the winter in Wellesley but I can only afford housing in Natick.
Why is Chatham on a different path than other communities in Massachusetts? Tax dollars should go to providing services for the residents who can afford to live in the town who truly need services and support.
Chatham and Natick, Mass.
Canal Solution Can’t Be A Bridge Too Far
I have been a huge advocate of figuring out a permanent solution to our [Cape Cod Canal] bridges. My take is that the shark issue and the bridge issue are two serious hurdles that Cape and Islands have to deal with from an economic standpoint, short- and long-term.
Anyone that owns a home, owns a business, works on or off the Cape and Islands, or is in the hospitality business: I think we all have a responsibility to attend one if these meetings and let our voices be heard. For more than 30 years, the state has been kicking this problem down the road and it’s in great part because people don’t speak up. Over 25,000 people a day commute over these bridges. When the Army Corps of Engineers decides to do work on them very couple years, it costs the Cape business community millions of dollars in lost opportunities and bad press, not to mention the added stress of the thousands coming on and off the Cape.
No matter where on the Cape you live or do business, you have a responsibility to the long-term economic health of this region. It isn’t about getting more people to come to the Cape and Islands, it is about getting visitors, residents and workers here in a safe manner. Our current bridges have two very small lanes for each direction, no bike lane and no safe sidewalk. The state was able to bury several miles of highway under the city of Boston; I would think in this day and age they could replace these bridges, even allowing for some disruption – but not as much as we are lead to believe.
The Cape and Islands pumps hundreds of millions of tax revenue to the sate annually. It is time we stood up and asked for what we deserve.
The bridge issue affects everyone’s pocket, from Cape Cod Health Care, to the local server in a local restaurant. It is part of our civic duty to get involved.
Support Playground Project
I am reaching out today to ask if you might be able to take the time to write a support letter to the Chatham Community Preservation Committee for a grant for the Chatham Community Playground. As you may know, the Chatham Community Playground is the playground at the Chatham Elementary School. This playground is in desperate need of some updates to the play structures and the surfaces under the play structures.
The elementary school is applying for community preservation funds to help pay for the playground. The current area does not meet the Massachusetts architectural access board mandates because of the wood fiber surfacing (wood chips). The school will have to replace the playground surface with poured-in-place rubber surfacing, and while the structures are removed to replace the surface, it only makes sense to update the play structures themselves.
The school has been hard at work fundraising, but unfortunately has not been able to reach tangible amounts. I am working on additional fundraising efforts, such as applying for grants and seeking help from other philanthropic members of our year-round and summer community. At this time, a letter in support would really help. [Elementary school principal ] Dr. Millen would need your letter by Dec. 15. Clearly, the town has invested in the education of our children and we have a beautiful elementary school with excellent teachers and staff. We now need to provide our children with an equally excellent playground for recess and play.
Lindsay Garre Bierwirth
Charter Review Needs Review
I have attended or remotely viewed all meetings of the present Charter Review Committee. I am profoundly disturbed by the appointment of several committee members.
In many of the meetings, those members revealed a pathetic display of long-standing resentments and personal grievances against town officials that have no place in these important deliberations regarding Chatham’s Charter.
One member maligned the police chief for a personnel matter concerning the harbormaster that took place six years ago and proposed a change to the charter that would exclude the chief from being appointed to serve as temporary town manager over a “civilian” staff, despite the numerous times he has successfully and commendably filled that role.
That same member criticized the natural resources director (a non-resident) for his allegedly misleading explanation of town meeting articles. Despite acknowledging the expertise of the director, the member proposed a sweeping new charter section that precludes the director and all other town staff from explaining or describing any article and permits only voters to advocate for or against a warrant article.
Another proposed change exposed the festering resentment of some members about continuing the West Chatham project after a non-binding town meeting vote five years ago directed selectmen to discontinue it. That proposal would eliminate the charter authority of the selectmen and town manager whose every action could be vetoed or reversed by town meeting. Other changes proposed by these same members exhibit a disdain for the authority granted to the town manager by the charter.
The plethora of controversial changes proposed by these members is unnecessary in a charter that has served Chatham well for almost 25 years.
Chatham and Venice, Fla.
Teachers Should Pay Fair Share
By now many of you have seen the red lawn signs the Monomoy teachers have placed around town. The teachers are looking for a fair contract. Wouldn’t it be nice if the contract ends up being fair to both sides? Obviously there are numerous parts to a contract, but a big one is retiree’s health insurance benefits.
Almost all public school districts on the Lower Cape offer health insurance from the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group. The group offers several plans, but the premiums for any plan are the same for all members of the regional group. What is not the same is the percentage contribution the teachers pay from the different districts. Retired teachers from Nauset Regional pay 50 percent of the insurance premiums. Retired teachers from Barnstable school district also pay 50 percent of the premiums. Retired teachers from D-Y Regional pay 40 percent of the premiums. Presently, retired teachers from Monomoy currently have the best arrangement, only paying 30 percent.
Wouldn’t it be a win-win and fair for all, if this one issue could be standardized for all teachers on the Lower Cape?