Letters To The Editor: Jan. 23, 2020
Support From Wonderful Community
Sincere thanks to everyone for all your support especially during the many months before, and after the passing of Richard Clifford.
Rich was my husband/best friend, a devoted father/grandfather, and a personable friend to all who knew him.
Our family and I thank all those who touched our lives.
Especially to Rich’s remarkable “Woodworker Buddies” to whom I am forever grateful, to friends who stopped by (even on their bikes) to chat with Rich, to The Cape Cod Chronicle for their tribute to Rich, to friends for homemade chocolate chip cookies (and chocolate goodies), for all the cards and thoughtful hand-written notes, to The Cape Cod Times, to friends who attended the memorial visitation, patiently waiting at the Nickerson Funeral Home, and to the friends/family sharing many memories at the celebration of Rich’s life.
Rich’s warm smile was indicative of his personal satisfaction being a part of our wonderful community!
Judi Clifford and the Clifford Family
Limit Advisory Groups To Three Terms
Chatham town advisory committee board members should be ineligible for reappointment upon completion of their third term, equaling a total of nine years of service.
Currently, some members of the shellfish advisory committee (SAC) have served three terms of service to date. Unfortunately, the board of selectmen no longer inform seated committee members to resign after a certain number of years served, as they have have done in the past.
In the 1990s several SAC members were given final notice to resign their committee positions due to serving three terms. The selectmen's reasoning then was to allow other applicants the chance to apply and serve on the committee so as to bring new light and voice to the table, the same way it should be today.
This matter has not become a total oversight.
Christopher D. LeClaire
Start Chatham Airport Plan Over
The Chatham Airport Commission attempted to finalize a new “master plan” for the Chatham Airport in 2019. No new master plan came to pass for reasons that were recognized by a number of our town’s leaders who serve on the Chatham Board of Selectmen.
Our selectmen were able to determine in the fall of 2019 why this process was doomed to fail. The process was flawed from the beginning as a result of its failure to enlist public participation at the outset.
Chatham is blessed to have a very well-informed citizenry. The developmental process regarding the airport failed to enlist and encourage public participation from the beginning, as the Federal Aviation Administration recommends. Only when the public got involved did the airport commission begin to acquire much-needed knowledge in everything from finance, to law to physics principles.
Our selectmen, as a group at its Dec. 2 meeting, and individually (in their openness to speak to their constituents all over Chatham), made the following astute points:
1. No new master plan is required prior to 2024, so there is plenty of time to begin a formulative process again and do it right this time around.
2. The only way to achieve a result that will command broad support and comply with FAA directives for public participation from the outset is for the airport commission to form a “working group” that will be able to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of Chatham residents. Such a group, which should include people—or seek input from people—with experience in finance, FAA protocols, law, property valuation, aviation, environmental protection, engineering, land use planning and public safety, can, through working sessions, facilitate a future for the Chatham Airport that will serve residents of Chatham as well as visitors who come to Chatham by air.
I respectfully recommend that at its Jan. 27 meeting, the airport commission begin this process anew by discussing, as a first order of business, a plan to form such a working group. Such a group can then start at the beginning, at page one of chapter one, by drafting a new mission statement that recognizes that the first responsibility of the airport commission, like any commission in Chatham, is to focus on the needs of the town of Chatham and its people.
James A. Fulton
President's Actions Will Save Lives
As the father of one son on active duty who recently returned from the Arabian Gulf, and his younger brother who is sworn in with the Marine Corps and will report to boot camp upon high school graduation, I applaud President Trump's action against Iran. I believe it will save U.S. lives.
For decades the U.S. strategy of appeasement towards the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism has been a disaster. Politicians afraid of risking reelection turned a blind eye towards the deaths of over 600 U.S. service members at the hands of Iran and their proxies. No longer.
President Trump had shown great restraint with Iran, but their recent attack on our embassy in Iraq put the thousands of U.S. lives inside at stake and is itself an act of war.
The U.S. strike on Iranian terror leader Soleimani was justified, well executed, and brilliant. There is no question that Iran got the message from their half-hearted response.
It's unfortunate that past administrations responded to terror attacks by dispatched John Kerry with singer James Taylor, instead of sending a hellfire missile into the backseat of the responsible leader's ride. The latter has proven more effective with Iran.
The writer is a candidate for Cape and Islands Republican State Committeeman.
A Call To Save Old Homes
Eighteen-month demolition delays keep the wrecking balls in wait to the eventual demise of Chatham’s antique homes. Wealth’s untethered dreams are consuming and sprawling, sometimes unattractive, manses display their power to do so. Pristine vistas torn away rob our history and stories of views from the past. In place the sprawl shows what money can do.
Serving families struggle to find affordable space, our aging population is losing the communities’ help, and school enrollment wanes as our town’s fabric moves on to more thriving communities.
Wanted: A coalition call to wall in this overzealous, consumptive display of maxed-out buildings on little land. We need to form an alliance for combined action to save Chatham’s antique homes. Anyone willing to join meetings held every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at 727 Main St. can call 774-722-0822 for details.
Do Nothing Viable Airport Option
The airport compromise plan neither meets the touted instrumentation needs nor eliminates public objections. This plan still requires 18 avigation easements costing $3 million-plus, and would significantly reduce property values. The town created this situation, so for the town to take rights and value away from even one homeowner is just not acceptable.
The FAA presumably considers a non-precision approach much less safe than a visual approach, because it increases the area of the runway/overshoot protection zones (RPZ) 3.6 fold to 49 acres. This would include over 80 homes instead of only 10 for the existing visual runway. The FAA says these zones are to protect people and urges that they be totally unpopulated. A non-precision runway still requires a minimum runway length of 3,200 feet, so that granting the required waiver would reduce the safety margin.
Bizarrely, the compromise plan specifies a non-precision southern approach, which would only be used infrequently because the prevailing wind is from the southwest and planes land into the wind predominantly from the north. Therefore based on this, and without horizontal and vertical guidance on both approaches, the whole argument of doing anything falls apart. Hence “Do Nothing” is the only viable option. This avoids all the legal costs, loss of property values, environmental destruction, an eight-fold increase in the number of people at risk in RPZs, and millions of FAA dollars, which handcuff the town’s control of the airport. Displacing the runway thresholds by 390 feet and 286 feet, as calculated by Gale Associates, would effectively shorten the runway with minimal impact on small-plane users, but would make the airport safer and quieter by rerouting commercial turboprop planes, which are the main source of protest, to Barnstable Airport. This would also eliminate the case for the dangerous practice of straight-in without a control tower, which primarily benefits the charters. “Do Nothing” is something, which, in more ways than one, we could all live with.
Dr. Michael Tompsett
Time To Fix Harwich
I sympathize with the letter about smoke shops in Harwich (“Questions Smoke Shop Permits,” Jan. 16). Three plus the one in West Harwich does seem excessive. Especially for a town that chose to ban weed. But why was the writer surprised by anything Harwich does these days?
Harwich Port has turned into a loud noisy drunken bar scene with outdoor music seven nights a week from June through Columbus Day. The streets in the area are littered with party cups, bottles, cans and butts all summer. Reds and Perks were approved to open as restaurants even though their septic cannot handle glassware. That means they are using plastic and paper for all their food and drink service. We outlawed plastic bags, but then restaurants like these fill up our landfill.
Our taxes went up.
The sewer project is in financial shambles.
Beach Parking was eliminated from the municipal lot to make room for the businesses and bars. It’s not even a real law, they just stuck the signs up to train us like dogs.
The town manager who improved our bond rating was terrorized by certain selectmen due to petty personal issues. And run out of his job.
Yes, it is/was a wonderful town, but things are going south fast. Open up your eyes and speak your mind. Let’s fix this.
Don't Let Fear Rule Airport Issues
A fear campaign can be a very effective way to mold public opinion. Is that how our public policy should be formulated? That’s what I’ve seen in the five months since the Chatham Airport Master Plan was first made available. Countless descriptions of property destruction, wetland destruction, bike path blockage, class action lawsuits, aircraft flying dangerously low over our houses, the arrival of commercial airline businesses, and more have been offered as the reasons we should not just avoid all safety improvements, but actually shrink the airport to ensure we avoid this doom and gloom. In virtually all instances these assessments have been either blatantly incorrect, or data simply doesn’t exist to support them. Counterpoints or corrections have been offered, and completely ignored. The same false fearsome statements get repeated over and over. That’s how a fear campaign works.
It's not in the best interest of fear campaigners to engage in compromise, because it doesn’t suit their agenda, and it forces the acknowledgment of facts. It’s possible to create meaningful safety improvements at the airport with minimal impact on surrounding land and people. The irony is that some features of those improvements have emerged from recent public debate, when it has actually been civil. Those improvements may not see the light of day, as fear is currently smothering them. It’s hard to know how many of us have been hardened by this fear, but all of us should demand more accountability toward these false fearsome statements. The integrity of our public policy depends on it.
Joy At Chatham Elementary
There was joy in the air at Chatham Elementary School (CES) last Thursday as 200 students and their parents spent an hour participating in and learning about the new “Deep Learning” approach to educating Chatham’s kids.
Deep Learning involves total participation of students and teachers in six C’s: critical thinking, communication, citizenship, creativity, character, creativity and collaboration.
A particularly exciting example was the egg drop experiment where groups of kids had to design and work together to build cases in which eggs would survive a 20-foot drop from the top of a ladder. Every egg survived, to the surprise of both teachers and kids!
There was also a great presentation by the principal, Dr. Robin Millen, and teachers from CES on the previous Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Monomoy Regional School Committee. Entitled “New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning (NPDL),” it can be viewed at www.monomoy.edu/Page/1508. Their segment runs from 0:43 to 2:13.
For those unable to attend either event, we invite you to attend the annual meeting of the Westgate Fund Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 5 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the CES library. The four teachers who received $5,000 from the Westgate Fund visited schools practicing the Deep Learning methodology in Toronto and Ottawa. They will share what they learned. Their Westgate grant enabled them to add on these school visits to an international conference attended by teachers from around the world.
Following their presentation will be a Q&A session for teachers seeking grants for the coming year. Details are available at WestgateFund. org. The deadline is for applications, approved by principals and superintendent, is March 5.
Michael Westgate, Chatham
Pam Groswald, Harwich
Co-chairs, Westgate Fund Committee
Give Stepping Stones Site Public Airing
Below is an excerpt from my statement to the Chatham Board of Selectmen (BOS) at their meeting on Jan. 13:
"I am here to request an agenda item as soon as possible to discuss a possible COA site at the middle school property.
“There has been a lot of interest in the possibility of using that land since it is owned by the town and, according to the lease agreement, it appears the likelihood of having two to three acres revert back to the town's use as a COA facility is appropriate and doable.
“In anticipation of a meeting, I request that you walk the bike trail on Stepping Stones from the parking lot to the point where it meets Stepping Stones as a possible COA location. It's the area located between the road and the rail trail and adjacent to the baseball field.
“I don't know how or why all of us missed this beautiful site."
Now, less than a week later, I read in The Chronicle weekend update that town officials have voiced their rationale for rejecting the school property to The Chronicle for publication in the upcoming edition without any response to my request.
Rather than rejecting the school location in the press, the BOS should be stating the advantages of 1610 Main St.; and allow a growing group of citizens to do likewise on the advantages of the Stepping Stones location.
The STM vote was not a mandate to reject other possible options. It was only a vote to look at 1610 Main feasibility. And nobody wants to lose another year without a new senior center if 1610 doesn't cut it.
Giving the advocates of the Stepping Stones location an airing in a public forum as soon as possible is the way forward. You won't be sorry you did.