Letters to the Editor, Oct. 24

Letters to the editor.

It's People Who Save Old Houses


Our family has read with interest the stories this fall regarding efforts to save our former summer home on Champlain Road. We are pleased that Bob Mahoney, the current owner, has pledged to save it, either at its present location or elsewhere in Chatham.
He would not have had that choice (or us, for that matter) were it not for the loving labors of the late Steve Howes of Harwich, who died earlier this month of liver cancer. Steve repaired Starboard Light for 40 years, replacing cedar shingles, painting and replacing trim, and (after Hurricane Bob) rebuilding the southwestern corner of the old house. There wasn't a gentler, more honest and capable carpenter. He was definitely of the "old school," whose work reflected a practicality and economy missing among many of his peers. And boy did he love working on a roof overlooking Stage Harbor on a clear summer day! I can hear the zap-zap-zap of his nail gun even now.
We save old buildings because they remind us of the past, of the community we wish to maintain, and sometimes because of their architectural beauty. But let's not forget they were built and maintained by humans (or in Steve's case, friends) and they remind us of them as well.

Josh Fitzhugh

West Berlin, Vt.


Keep Airport Small


We are not abutters to the Chatham Municipal Airport but lifelong residents.
"Vision Statement—The Chatham Airport Commission envisions the Chatham Municipal Airport as an integral transportation component in southeastern Massachusetts…" We are surprised that a Chatham town board supports being an "integral component" of just about anything bigger than Chatham. Historically Chatham has rejected significant amounts of grant money because town fathers determined we would sacrifice our identity, vision and control. Barnstable Airport (15 miles away) is the integral regional component.
An FAA waiver of safety requirements is mandated. Should an accident happen, what would be the town's liability if it applied for and supported the waiver?
Unlike Hyannis, we have no safety zones, or tower and only one runway.
Remember the BP jet that overshot the runway in Hyannis, even with these safety measures? Chatham has no space to add safety zones or runways. Our runway is already shorter than required and why support planes approaching at lower levels, closer to rooftops.
Why become a bad-weather airport with the more intense use that brings? What about the growth pressure it unleashes on an already sky-high priced housing market?
Yes, the airport is a good neighbor; it should stay. Yes, it contributes to the town; we are grateful. It has a great safety record, the way it is. But we are a small town and our airport size and use is appropriate for that.

The Airport Commission should forward the matter for a town meeting vote.

Ed and Pat Eldridge



Chatham's Generosity Overfloweth


The Art of Charity just concluded its final two functions, a pair of wine-tastings, one, at the Marconi Museum, and another in a private home.  Edu-tainment was attained, even as AoC winds down to its final exit from the stage (First Night is our last night!).  Many thanks to our anonymous donor of cellared wine, as well as to the lucky winning bidders.  But mostly, thank you, Chatham, for checking in with your usual generosity; specifically, Bob Fishback and the elves at the Marconi Museum; Heather, for an awesome platter from the Chatham Cheese Company; Wesley (and Christian) at Mac’s Seafood, for a super-tasty array of tuna poke and seafood ceviche; Tanya, from Elwood’s Raw Bar, as home-grown as the oysters she shucked; Mac, from the Wine Bar at the Chatham Inn, who put together a sumptuous charcuterie plate; the many glasses were provided by Wequassett Resort and Golf Club via Kari; and each tasting ended with chocolates from the Candy Manor (of course!). Good wine, good food, good cause, good God, it’s almost over.  Our thanks.

Otis Russell, president

The Art of Charity Foundation


When Is A Refuge Not A Refuge?


It is a wonderful thing that coyotes can enjoy some refuge from hunting on Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. I note the hunting of shorebirds continues. Don't shorebirds deserve a refuge too?

Linda Devonshire



Become A Friend Today


Chronicle readers, please join the Friends of Eldredge Public Library in celebrating National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct. 20 to 26.  Known as the Jewel of Main Street, the Eldredge Public Library offers our town and its many visitors a resource and refuge for intellectual curiosity, programs for youth, teens, and adults, book and author lectures, discounted museum passes, book clubs, great book and classic film discussion groups, Chatham writers and memoirs groups, English language conversation class, and workshops for making holiday cards, floral arrangements, miniature paintings, and even culinary arts.  The money we raise through the Learning Series, book sale, membership and various other fundraisers, allows us to continue to support programs, services and projects, such as painting the interior of the library, that are beyond the library's operating budget. After all, isn’t that what Friends are for?  We welcome you to become a Friends member today!  

Joan Aucoin, board member

Friends of the Eldredge Public Library


Task Force Report Refreshing

The recent report of the Chatham 365 task force to the board of selectmen is a refreshing step toward building a more vibrant, inclusive Chatham.
As a 25-year advocate for affordable housing in Chatham, I am particularly encouraged by the task force’s housing recommendations—zone for greater density, build more affordable and “attainable” apartments and homes, provide downpayment assistance, subsidize home repairs and offer tax breaks to year-round residents and their landlords. We were successful at doubling affordable homes in Chatham in the early 2000s, but the town has made little progress since the opening of Lake Street Homes by The Community Builders, Inc. in 2005, and still has only 5 percent of its housing stock affordable, far short of the 10 percent statewide goal.
Implementing Chatham 365 will require shared vision, relentless creativity and steady commitment from town leaders and voters. Compromise on other things we value and an appetite for some change will be needed, but inaction is not an option for our community. I applaud the authors’ vision, ambition and focus on stemming the exodus of young families from Chatham. I urge the town’s 6,100 year-round residents and selectmen to get involved and support the resulting initiatives.
Thanks to the Chatham 365 task force for their thoughtful, comprehensive recommendations, and the board of selectmen for taking a swift first step in adopting universal pre-K. Let’s keep the focus on this critical agenda and move forward urgently with the rest.

Jack Kelleher


Center Line Safety For Planes


Highway center lines! Do you like them? Do you find them helpful in keeping you on your side of the road and allowing you to expect that oncoming drivers will remain on their side as well? How about at night? Or when there is reduced visibility due to fog and or rain? Tracing their roots to the early 1900s, highway center lines are considered to be one of the most important safety improvements to our highway system!

So, think about the proposed updated instrument approach called for in the Chatham Airport Master Plan. This GPS-based approach takes advantage of the latest technology and is analogous to the aforementioned highway divider lines. It provides both lateral and vertical guidance directly to the runway. A pilot just keeps those two lines centered on an instrument in the cockpit and it will guide him or her safely to the runway and avoid a circling approach that requires covering more real estate and offers no clear pathway to a runway. Safety is further enhanced since the lateral and vertical pathways can be coupled to an autopilot and thereby further reduce the workload in the cockpit.

With respect to the type of airplanes that can land at Chatham, runway length is the determining factor. There are no plans to extend the runway at Chatham so the proposed instrument approach will not change the character of the airport but will further enhance safety for current users. Pilots find “center lines” in the sky as useful as automobile drivers appreciate highway center lines.

Peter Gerstberger



Avenue For Fish Pier Issue

I am a frequent visitor to the Chatham Fish Pier and read Alan Pollock’s article with great interest. He did not mention whether the project was bonded and, as a retired surety professional, I would be distressed to find that this project had not been secured by a performance and payment bond. If there is surety support, they should be contacted immediately and put on notice of the pending default.

David Mott



Comedy, Tragedy Or Farce?

The meeting held by the Chatham Airport Commission recently could be considered all of the above. The meeting was meant, as suggested by the commission’s chairman Peter Donovan, to alleviate and/or resolve any issues brought up by the standing-room only crowd of concerned Chatham citizens attending the meeting.
The commission has been in the process of updating its master plan which needs to be approved by the FAA. It has been forwarding portions of the plan over the last months for the FAA’s approval. The only problem about last week’s meeting is that the airport commission has already chosen and submitted to the FAA that portion of the plan which was the subject of the meeting with the public.

As was mentioned by one of the commissioners at the meeting, Chatham “commonly has non-ideal weather.” So what does the commission do, weeks/months ago it elects to choose (without adequately notifying the public). “Option 3,” the most invasive possible option, which will then allow instrument landings in Chatham. Sounds good, doesn’t it? No, it does not!
I asked Chairman Donovan at the end of the meeting, “Is there anything I can do to get the commission to choose Option 1?” (For those who are wondering, “Option 1” keeps the airport pretty much status quo.) His answer was, “No!”
Well, I can contact Chatham’s board of selectmen and call/write the FAA and Mass DOT and relay my urgent concerns. Do not let the commission change our airport. Voice your concerns if you agree with me.

Susan N. Wilcox