Letters to the Editor, Aug. 29

Letters to the editor.

Keep It Safe, Selectmen


Let’s work together! Let’s keep Chatham’s airspace safe.

We all agree we want a safe environment in Chatham for our residents, families, friends and visitors. A safe place to live, work, play and visit. Safety on our streets, on our beaches and ponds, in our backyards and in our airspace is important to help keep Chatham thriving.

We all agree that Chatham is a congested area. We all agree that the FAA does not allow skydiving in congested areas. Our town’s counsel has argued in court that skydiving is unsafe at Chatham airport. We agree.

Can we accept that a mistake was made in the past allowing skydiving to operate in Chatham? Certainly, it was a mistake to allow a company who had been asked to leave a neighboring airfield in Marston Mills for unsafe aeronautical practices to operate at our town-owned airport. SDCC also falsely represented the cause of their skydive airplane crash in Lover’s Lake as carburetor icing. It crashed because of insufficient fuel. This was the second time on the Cape that their pilots had failed to properly fuel their skydive planes.

We can’t change the past. Let’s look towards our future.

We all want to safely enjoy all the assets of our town, including our airport and our airspace. Let’s work together and ensure a safe Chatham for us today and for future generations.

KISS – Keep It Safe Selectmen! Listen to our town counsel. Skydiving isn’t safe at CQX because Chatham is a congested area. Period. Fight for what’s right for our airspace, residents and visitors. Let’s settle this and move on.

Jane Wilson



Airport Is An Economic Engine


While I’m unable to comment specifically on the observation made in a recent letter to The Chronicle alleging false claims by the airport commission, I do think it important that the topic of economic activity related to the airport be addressed dispassionately.

In an effort to better understand the economic impact of public-use airports in the state, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division began to conduct airport economic impact studies in 2011. The most recent update of this effort was released in January 2019 (based on 2017 data). This report—Massachusetts Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study Update—quantifies “employment, payroll, and economic output. The economic impact analysis considers the annual impact associated with on-airport, aviation-related businesses and government organizations, capital improvement projects, military aviation, the spending of visitors who arrive via scheduled commercial service airlines and the spending of visitors who arrive on privately-owned general aviation aircraft.” The methodology used by MassDOT in the report follows FAA guidelines and “has successfully quantified the benefits of airports and airport systems throughout the U.S.”

The report assesses not only on-field economic activity, but local multiplier effects as well. As the report details, “[e]xpenitures by the airport and businesses/government agencies on the airport trickle through the economy, influencing people and businesses nearby.” Further, “[v]isitors arriving at Massachusetts’ commercial service and general aviation airports spend money for food, lodging, retail purchases, recreation, and ground transportation, all of which drive growth in local and regional economies.”

The MassDOT report concludes that Chatham Municipal Airport generated $13.92 million in total economic output in 2017. This figure includes $4.77 million in total payroll from 156 jobs. As noted in the report, these impact figures include all on-airport business and government agency, capital improvement project, visitor and multiplier impacts.

Stephen S. Daniel


Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the Chatham Finance Committee.



Mermaids Just Aren't As Popular


The following letter was addressed to the board of the Chatham Merchants Association:

I am one of the artists who participated in this year's Art in the Park display. As you must know by now, your decision to forgo the shark format for its less triggering replacement was more than an obvious artistic disaster. It was an all-around dismal failure. I need not speak of the difficulties presented to the artists by your choice of unwieldy alternatives to the wildly popular shark format.  Because of the board’s decision to implement a difficult “canvas” on which the artist could strut his stuff, we were limited to a difficult format. Most of those who selected the mermaid format were limited to having to decorate their mermaid with some sort of a mermaid likeness, and guess what? The public was particularly unenthusiastic about the finished products. How many of those who have the money to spend on such decorative art are willing to spend it for a mermaid to display in their yard or on their wall? You have seen the results—generally speaking unattractive, boring and generally undesirable artwork. 
These are not my value judgments. I let the buying public speak for itself. Even the work of the more sought-after artists received little attention. Twelve hundred dollars for the “best” painting! 
I have no idea whether the decision to change a commercially successful format to a lugubriously dismal one was unanimous. It was, for all artists concerned, even those whose work achieved a comparatively high bid, an atrocious one. Should you continue down this ill-advised path, I have an idea that many of the first-rate artists who have happily donated their time and efforts to this project in the past will have swum far from these mermaid-infested waters by the time your next event rolls around. It’s not worth the trouble or consequent no or low bids.

You have slain the shark that laid the golden eggcase. What a waste for all concerned!

John Hutchinson



Use What We Already Own


In response to Mr. Beecy’s letter to the editor from last week (“COA Solution Address Two Priorities”) about the COA location:  He may very well be unaware that the land next to 1610 Main St. was purchased with funds from the land bank and has protection as open space.  I seriously doubt voters would approve this—if it were indeed, even possible.

In addition, I think it’s extremely short sighted to expect taxpayers to purchase a piece of land that has doubled from the original price that was paid. How much profit has been made on this land by storing equipment for the road construction?  I stand by my letter of last week; whereas, instead of purchasing more land, let's make what we own usable.  There is no reason the current COA building cannot be renovated and used in its current location without destroying more open space.

Judy Patterson

West Chatham


Get Real About Food Trucks


Kudos to the Cape Cod Sign Shop for allowing the truck to park there for the last Monday’s on Main event! Like it was really going to kill a couple of restaurants businesses and their very expensive prices! C’mon folks, get real! Chatham is a tourist town, people love to come with their families. Not everyone can afford to go in and sit in a restaurant with small children, nor do they necessarily want to! Try a little live and let live for all. And that’s all from me!

Suzanne Cotter

Jefferson, Mass.


Follow The Harbormaster Model


In the past several years the Harwich harbormaster has been successful in obtaining Massachusetts grants to subsidize several large and small department projects. These grants helped to pay for rebuilding the Saquatucket docks and buildings, Wychmere Fish Pier, and Allen Harbor bulkheads and parking, as well as the dredging of Allen Harbor channel last June. So, how can we encourage other municipal departments to follow the “Harbormaster Model” and apply for grants to subsidize some needed projects?  

One Massachusetts grant program, started in 2015, that should be looked at is the Community Compact Information Technology (IT) Grant. The mass.Gov website states, “Grants of up to $200,000 will support the implementation of innovative IT projects by funding related one-time capital needs such as technology infrastructure, upgrades and/or purchases of equipment or software. Incidental costs related to the capital purchase such as planning, installation, implementation and initial training are eligible.”  It is important to note that these grants are available for funding for a large range of projects—not just IT. Past recipients include police, fire, DPW, libraries and a variety of other municipal departments. Forty-four cities and towns were awarded almost $3 million in 2019. The list of grant recipients on the website indicates that Harwich has never received this grant. Keep in mind state grant money is really “our money” that was collected by the state primarily via our income taxes, meals, rental and sales taxes.  The application period for the IT grant program will be from Sept. 16 through Oct. 16. Let’s get some of that money back to help make town services more efficient.

Richard Gundersen

Member, Concerned Harwich Taxpayers