Letters To The Editor: Sept. 26, 2019

A Community That Paints Together...


On behalf of the Guild of Harwich Artists, thank you (again) Harwich for supporting our “for art and community” mission. Saturday, during the Harwich Cranberry Festival, the Guild hosted our annual “Make-It-Take-It” event at the community center. Like our spring “Mystery Painting Puzzle,” the MITI engages the community with a hands-on painting experience. Upwards of 175 fledgling artists of all ages explored different painting media including oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, colored pencils, collage and Chinese brush painting, returning home with their prized work of art. Our event was made possible through a grant by the Harwich Cultural Council and the efforts of so many Guild members. Thanks to all.

Michael Rudden


Town Voted Against Airlines


A commercial airplane at Chatham’s airport?   I doubt it.  Town meeting voted about 40 years ago to prevent that.  I do not recall the exact wording, but I do recall  having voted on it. There are not many people left who were at that meeting.   I am sure it can be verified by going to town records.

Juliet R. Bernstein


Past And Future At Stake


Upon seeing the film “One Big Home” Saturday morning, nominally about the building of mcmansions on Martha’s Vineyard but digging deeper about the greater issues of our carbon footprint all over our country, I quipped that I thought I was all done with “morning sickness.” Truly, I am almost physically sick when I see the maps that Director Thomas Bena uses to illustrate the increase in land coverage on Martha’s Vineyard from the first map to the present. I experience that same morning heart-sickness when I stroll Stage Harbor Road with my dog. Have you taken a good look at what is happening? The homes that are being built mostly do echo the “community character” of our town at least on Stage Harbor Road with imposing sea captains’ homes; most are exquisitely constructed using local builders and other local talent; give employment for a great many people on all levels; and have met the zoning requirements, at least minimally, some with the required 18-month review for tearing down historical buildings. So what’s the problem? The problem is scale.

The buildings at the corner of Inlet Road and Stage Harbor Road illustrate my point. The new house, after the tear down, probably is about the same footprint as the previous rather unappealing one though it seems larger to the east. However, there are two other buildings onsite that have been rebuilt to allow more usage as well as the remodeling of another cottage on the property. There is the ubiquitous pool (in this case a smaller in-ground hot tub). All these buildings are on a rather small parcel of land, although permitted. We should know better in this, the 21st century. We need to have the big picture with tighter zoning and stricter enforcement, or is it too little, too late?

One speaker Saturday morning pointed out that the problem is that Chatham has no, or little, buildable land. There are not many homes left on Stage Harbor Road that have not been torn down and rebuilt. “Quaint little cottages here and there” does conjure up the romantic images of the Cape Cod of the past and that is important to our “community character.” However, there are greater needs to be addressed. To be honest, I am not as interested in preserving our houses (rebuilding to mimic the past somehow feels false to me and denies our present) as I am in preserving our land. It was pointed out that those issues do not need to be exclusive and are both worthy. POP is an inspiring ground swell of energy directed to “Preserve Our Past.” Let’s add a tag line to POP: “Preserve Our Past, Ensure (Insure) Our Future.”

Linda Simonitsch


Selectmen Made Right Choice With CRC


Anne Timpson launched yet another attack on the select board at last week’s meeting. Straying well beyond the posted agenda item, she chastised the board for abolishing the dysfunctional charter review committee for reasons she claimed were “not based on any truth, just one accusation.” Presumably, that “accusation” was a CRC officer’s assault on a citizen, which the board affirmed played no role in its decision.

Timpson claimed she attended 90 percent of CRC meetings and watched videos of the rest, then argued that abolishment was “a step away from democracy and back to a form of monarchy.” If that were true, she was oblivious to or supported the autocratic manner in which the CRC officers controlled and manipulated proposals, committee deliberations and public input.

Timpson claimed selectmen were uninformed about CRC deliberations because they did not attend or watch enough CRC meetings to “fairly judge” its dysfunctionality. But she has no idea how many selectmen watched how many meetings.

Chatham Select Boards are remarkably well-informed on most matters, and this board was well-informed on this matter. Many comments were addressed to the CRC and town manager opposing every unnecessary change CRC officers proposed for a charter that has served Chatham well for a quarter century. When they voted a change that would unlawfully interfere with Chatham’s bicameral form of government, the seeds of dysfunction were sown.

Apart from serious committee friction, particularly regarding public input, many changes were based on personal grievances, e.g., prohibiting the police chief from serving as temporary town manager, precluding non-voter town staff (directed primarily at one staff member) from presenting or speaking for any warrant article, and eliminating or shifting to the board authority originally vested in the town manager.

Perhaps Timpson’s alignment with CRC officer(s) clouded her judgment. Regardless, the select board had the legal authority and was completely justified in abolishing the CRC.

George Myers
Chatham and Venice, Fla.


Troubled By Misleading Play


Although not intentionally misguided, the version of “Indecent,” a play describing the range of responses in the first half of the 20th century to the 1907 play “God of vengeance” about Jewish immigration and lesbianism, does not demonstrate an understanding of the important issues related to the Jewish religion nor to its changing history.

This lack of understanding is depicted in the repetitive scene of the father using the holiest book, the Torah (a handwritten scroll of the first five books of the Bible), to physically threaten his daughter and her female prostitute lover. The scene provides an opportunity to represent several historic perspectives to the horror of this action (threatening with the sacred representation of the “people of the book”).

Instead the audience is led to this depiction as comedic and in repetition gets funnier (which could not be further from the truth).
The Cape Rep director’s inexplicable choice of a play that demands in-depth knowledge and understanding of both Jewish religion and the Jewish immigration experience sadly suggest her lack of knowledge and leads to her inability to represent these elements. The result is an almost total misrepresentation of both the religion and its history in the 20th century, especially in the first act.

If you attend this play as a knowledgeable Jew, you will leave very distressed. If you attend as a non-Jew, you will likely leave more ignorant and misled.

Claudia Shuster
Lenox, Mass.