Letters To The Editor, Dec. 26, 2019
Save Historic Home
I recently learned that the oldest surviving residence in Chatham has been slated for demolition. At first I thought it was a joke or a rumor but recently I learned that it is true. Chatham’s historical commission has done all it can within its power to save the structure by imposing an 18-month demolition delay on the structure. However over a year has past and unless somebody steps to the fore this house will be lost forever. Incredibly it is older than the Atwood house. In addition to being the oldest surviving residence dating back to the late 1600’s it was home to the son, William Nickerson Jr., of the founder who was the first settler to bought all of the land, now known as Chatham, from the Indians.
Where are the leaders of the community on this issue? The historical commission has done all it can do but is this not an important enough part of our living history for the selectmen to step up and show that they not only care about historic preservation but actually do something as well? I would hope so. If not, then why would Chatham agree to tax itself with the community preservation funds?
As I understand it, the owners need to sell the property but have turned down offers from developers who would raze the structure to create yet another McMansion. That is just what we need. I sincerely hope others become aware of what is going on and demand the town fathers show leadership and use the many tools at their disposal to save this unique and one of a kind opportunities to save this obviously important piece of our collective history. Talking the talk is one thing. Walking the walk is entirely another.
How on earth can such a well funded community allow such a travesty to happen? I hope others will join me in imploring our leaders to be, well, leaders!
Monomoy Schools Thank Partners For Library Help
As part of a community-supported project to ensure that students from Chatham Elementary School have easy access to books when not in school, Monomoy Regional School District led a project to build and install free lending libraries for the youth in the community. The first of these little free libraries have been placed near the front office at the Lake Street Terrace Apartments in Chatham, to offer convenient access to books for the young people who live in that area. This was a true community project that was made possible completely by donations and volunteers, and we want to thank all of the organizations and businesses that supported it: members of the Chatham-Harwich Newcomers Club Woodworkers Group helped with plans and design work, and created and built the library boxes - many thanks to Steve Patzman, Wayne Glifort, project leader Mark Dennen, and the late Joe Linehan for their hard work and care building the library boxes; Shepley Wood Products donated all lumber and wood for the project; Baskins Ace Hardware donated nails, screws, knobs, plexiglass, and more; West Marine donated clamshell vents; Chatham Elementary School students and custodians painted the boxes and the custodial team helped with installation, and Principal Robin Millen was integral in encouraging the project; and the management at Lake Street Terrace Apartments welcomed our partnership and graciously allowed us to place the library box near their main office for easy and protected access to children and families. The volunteers and donors were so generous that we were able to create two boxes, and are deciding on the best location for the second box to be installed. Early literacy is such an important part of children's growth and development, and we are excited to help encourage a lifelong love of reading among young people in our community. Many thanks to all who made this important project a reality!
Community Engagement Coordinator, Monomoy Regional School District
Safety First For Seniors
The finance committee voted 5-2 against the land purchase being considered at 1610 and 0 Main St. for a new senior center which meets neither site nor parking requirements. The total project is estimated at $8,694,000, equivalent to playing Russian roulette with taxpayer dollars.
A major site requirement is adequate parking. Based on the council on aging’s proposed increased demand, Pare Corporation traffic engineers have determined the new senior center would need 55-60 daily spaces. For larger weekly events, public meetings, etc., the numbers jump to 85-90! This site only supports 54 parking spaces. For overflow parking, architect Bargmann and Owners Project Manager Pomroy suggested agreements to use parking at Ocean State Job Lot and at other commercial buildings, such as the Oppenheim Medical Center. Navigating back and forth across Route 28 or to Ocean State Job Lot for overflow parking could be dangerous. And if seniors use such overflow parking, which has not yet been negotiated, it would mean walking down a sloped driveway since the primary entrance is in the rear. In bad weather, going down and coming back up could be hazardous. Regardless of site appraisals, price reductions, and monetary contributions, seniors’ safety is most important.
We can do better. We must do better. Our seniors deserve better! It might increase or decrease costs and time, but in the end we will have a safe senior center we can all be proud of!
Don't settle! The best is yet to come! Vote no on both articles at the special town meeting, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at 1 p.m.
How Does Fuel Tank Improve Safety?
I have attended several meetings and read much feedback about the new airport master plan update. It has been stated that the reason for the new plan update is to improve the safety of local pilots. This is from Wikipedia: “Aviation fuel can be used as CNG fuel. Avgas is sold in much lower volume than jet fuel, but to many more individual aircraft operators; whereas jet fuel is sold in high volume to large aircraft operators, such as airlines and military.” The plan update calls for a 10,000-gallon underground jet fuel tank. My question is, how is the addition of a 10,000-gallon underground jet fuel tank improving the safety of local pilots?
COA Site Decision Shortsighted
I am dismayed at the opposition from several letters in last week's edition and the reported vote of the Chatham Finance Committee. The topic of how best to proceed in obtaining a suitable site has been extensively investigated over several years. The shortcomings of the existing facility and site have been thoroughly studied, as have multiple potential town-owned sites. The longer this process continues, the higher the costs will be to taxpayers in the long run.
The long-run benefits of freeing-up the existing COA site for significantly increasing affordable housing are important and hopefully well-recognized by all residents, taxpayers, and voters. The financial value to taxpayers of returning that site to the tax base can readily become available once a new COA facility is completed.
The opposition to purchasing the proposed West Chatham site is based on flawed economic reasoning. The current owner purchased that land at a cost reflecting that multiple deteriorated structures would have to be removed at considerable cost before any new facilities could be built. That cleanup was completed by the current owner.
That owner is now offering to sell the land at a price he judges to be reasonable considering his total costs, including interest on the purchase costs plus property taxes, and other costs, over the period since his purchase. An assessment of the likely total costs incurred to date suggest the price offered is fair and reasonable using a straight forward economic analysis.
I urge voters to turn out for the Jan. 4 special town meeting and to resoundingly vote yes on the site purchase warrant article. It is time to move on to the important next steps rather than wasting this opportunity to achieve the benefits of both important community goals in a timely manner. What a great way to start the new year!
David J. Beecy
Recycle Those Christmas Lights
Christmas light recycling is back! From now until the end of January, you can take your used, broken, or unwanted string Christmas lights to the Chatham Transfer Station for free recycling. For more information call 774-994-7514 or email email@example.com. Thank you, Kari, Chatham Transfer Station, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and AmeriCorps!
COA Site Gets Worse And Worse
The more we learn about 1610 Main St. as the site for the COA, the worse it gets. A third of the lot is a 49-foot drop to the pond. Only three-quarters of an acre is currently buildable, requiring landfill and retaining walls, easily driving costs well over a $1 million for the land alone—it could be much higher.
There’s no room for a front entrance with visitor drop off because of lot shape and topography. So we’re left with a building with a lower level rear entrance down a sloping drive, dangerous for entry and exit, especially in bad weather.
Once completed, the COA will still be short 30 to 40 parking spaces for events, requiring agreements with abutters—who have not been contacted—to allow peak hour parking. How much will those agreements cost? The town and COA response if agreements can’t be reached? COA shuttles can arrange transportation. Why is that an option now when it wasn’t at the existing site or the community center?
The danger and liability to the town and potential abutters, encouraging seniors to cross Route 28 (which will be 60 feet of paved surface when the corridor construction is complete) and parking at Ocean State 600 feet away (two football fields), then walking down the sloped driveway to the main entrance, defies explanation.
Assuming parking can be found at the COA, (rear spaces will be almost a football field from the main entrance) , seniors entering and exiting onto Route 28 by car will have to negotiate multipurpose paths and bike lanes to cross traffic from the sloped driveway, or negotiate two roundabouts during the height of summer traffic- when seniors didn’t want to take a left turn out of the community center.
In addition to the topography, the lot is encumbered—requiring planning board and tree warden approval—as dozens if not hundreds of trees will have to be clear cut, HBDC and conservation approvals, a zoning bylaw change and abutter parking agreements. None have been done.
To consider this location for a $9 million building (for 283 active clients, according to the COA director's report), that requires so many compromises with the inherent dangers, makes absolutely no sense. Just imagine how far that money would go to provide critical services for the entire community, including seniors.