Letters to the Editor, May 30, 2019


The Once And Future Volunteer


Chatham has always been blessed with a wealth of people who are willing to step into a vacuum of need and offer assistance.  The recent honors bestowed on Juliet Bernstein are well-deserved and bespeak a life, not just long-lived, but well-lived also.  The passing last week of Pat Cass extinguishes a charitable light that helped illuminate Chatham’s tradition of giving and serving.  Pat was as close to a professional volunteer as one would ever find, and the early years of Art of Charity would have been a lot less smooth and a damn sight less fun were it not for her involvement.  AoC’s structural looseness and raucous meetings were a platform that Pat loved; her sharp-tongued sarcasm belied a ridiculously-soft heart, and her iron will took whatever crazy task we threw at her and carried it over the finish line. And as much as she loved us, we totally loved her back for her honesty and for never allowing any AoC meeting to devolve into self-serious drama. The AoC board joins me in this final wish: At last, rest easy, Pat, and safe harbors.

Otis Russell, president
The Art of Charity Foundation


What Harwich Is All About


To all my Harwich friends and supporters, I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who supported me in the past election. Friends and neighbors, fellow townspeople, those who believe in Tom Sherry and what he stands for.

To me, Harwich is so much more than cranberry bogs, fishing boats, beaches, businesses and woodlands.

Harwich is not just a place on a map. It’s in the people I’ve come to call friends, it’s a place in my heart. Harwich is Home.

I thank you Harwich,

Tom Sherry


ADU Bylaw A Pandora's Box


Chatham's accessory dwelling unit (ADU) article should never have been written to allow by right construction of an ADU. It opens Pandora's box. A sharp lawyer could easily ascertain that his clients construction should be by right as well. It could be the end of the current zoning regulations. By not notifying neighbors you are infringing on their current property rights. I watched the annual town meeting article 17 (ADU) on channel 18 three times to hear the debates among the speakers. I was taken aback by Mr.  David Oppenheim stating that the previous speakers were so wrong during the  debate. No, other speakers did have legitimate concerns about the article.  Later on during his monologue he stated he has rental apartments that are market rate and doing very well. Chatham needs under-market rate rentals. He wants others to build low-priced rentals. This ADU article was prepared in a hurry and rushed through for the annual town meeting. It should go back to the planning board to pass muster.

Earl Hubbard
Southbury, Conn.


Too Much Of A Good Thing?


Re: Your recent article “Bank Street Parking” in Harwich. A quote lifted from your recent article is as follows: “The town is growing, which is a good thing. But there are issues to be answered.”

Looking into the future, be it a day, a year, 10 years, or 50 years, are we to continue thinking growth to be a good thing? Is now not a time to question just what is “a good thing?” Admittedly we have been conditioned to think of growth as the vehicle to cover our basic needs as well as provide for those longed-for wants. Perhaps it is time to ask how the needs/wants goal can be achieved without greater congestion and without greater town expenditure. Perhaps it is time to focus on how we can slow the pace of taxation, minimize stress to our infrastructure and avoid the crowd management systems we find in cities. We can’t accomplish that by going along as we have been going.

Would not a less crowded environment be a more valuable environment, be an enhancement of lifestyle and of asset appreciation? The reflex response no doubt would be “but how can it be afforded?” The answer simply might be one’s intent to enjoy what is about our community, not trying to change “for the better.” Admittedly, this thought might require a realignment in one’s thinking. After all, we do not share our forebears’ perceptions of a difficult life. To be clear, I see ancillary apartments for the financially challenged as an exception to my anti-expenditure/development posture.

There is so much to work with to get to a less expenditure-laden lifestyle. Half the housing stock in Harwich is seasonal, requiring services for only part of the year. Second homes can be the bank that can afford us the engine of restraint, not the engine of constant outlay. As a metaphor, the “extra miles” we can capture by holding back on our acquisitive natures should mean something. And as a town we can get there. We must just consider the damage that aggregating expenses can do. We must rid ourselves of a “build it so they will come” or a “build it so our lives will be a little easier” mindset.

In closing, is the crowding of beaches to be encouraged? Are more parking lots to be encouraged? If not, then as residents of Harwich we must give our BOS what is necessary to discourage beach crowding and discourage parking lot construction. We need to start building safety valves to overcrowding.

Matt Sutphin


Missing Turtle Crossing Signs


Recently 11 turtle crossing signs were put up on Chatham streets with known turtle crossing areas. Three of the signs are missing: one from Sam Ryders Road and two from George Ryder Road. The signs are put up as turtles cross the roads to lay their eggs in these locations and the turtles get run over by cars. Chatham has far fewer turtles than ever before. Turtles are an important part of the natural environmental life cycle in our local ponds. The signs are put up from mid-May to mid-August. If you have the signs please put them back up. And please drive carefully in these areas.

K. Ryan