Letters to the Editor, Feb. 13
Supports School COA Site
It’s brilliant the superintendent of the Monomoy schools would like to see the COA building on the Middle School property. Let’s all get on the bus come May town meeting and vote for the town-owned school property. There is plenty of room for everyone. Thank you, Fred Crimins.
History Is On Women's Side
Feb. 15 marks the day in 1820 when Susan B. Anthony was born. I can never forget that date because I have always been an admirer of Susan, an early advocate of equal rights and a true activist, she traveled the country for years to achieve justice. She was a Quaker and an abolitionist and was dismayed when she was told it was not yet women’s chance. Despite that, she never gave up , saying “It will come.” Sadly it came, when the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, to be ratified on Aug. 18, 1920 only after she had died on March 13, 1906 in Rochester, N.Y. at age 86.
I will never forget that day in 1920 ,the first time my mother voted. I was only 7, but it was a big deal for our family. We went to the polls in Mongaup Valley in the large surrey (though not white) with the fringe on top—my older sister, I, the middle girl, my younger sister, our baby brother, who had been born on June 20.
Women waited 50 years to be able to vote, because the 15th Amendment, giving Blacks the vote, ratified in 1870, was for Black men only. How much longer will women have to wait to see a woman elected president of these United States of America? There is no doubt in my mind that a woman can clean up the toxic atmosphere in Washington.
Juliet R. Bernstein
Airport Critic Is Biased
I was disappointed to see Michael Tompsett’s Letter to the Editor “Do Nothing Viable Airport Option” (Jan. 30) after witnessing Gale Associates and the airport commission provide him with information in weeks past that refutes most of what he has written. Early in the process there was a lot of information to interpret and I could see the potential for confusion. But this was clarified and clearly answered in subsequent meetings. To then knowingly spread false information to the public is irresponsible. For example, it was clearly explained that the potential avigation impact for the airport master plan (AMPU) “compromise” option would only effect three residential and nine commercial properties for a total of 12, not 18 as he wrote. His statement that the airport’s runway protection zones will increase from about 8 acres in size to about 80 acres cannot be determined until after the FAA assesses the different approach options proposed in the draft AMPU, not before. He further understands that displacing the runway thresholds is not an option, but rather a penalty that would be imposed by the FAA as a result of allowing trees to obstruct existing approach minimums. Letting trees at the ends of the runways grow into the flight path creates a safety hazard or requires the FAA to displace the runway thresholds until the runway is unusable for most, if not all aircraft. His current proposal of reducing the runway length by 23 percent would already prevent many airplanes that have been coming to Chatham for the past 85 years from landing. And most importantly, he knows that his “Do Nothing Option” would put the airport out of compliance to and jeopardize the airport’s ability to qualify for 95 percent of the federal and state funding it currently receives from the FAA and Mass DOT/AD.
Without federal and state funding, the Chatham airport would likely face financial difficulties that would become the sole burden of the town, or worse, requiring the airport to shut down. As the former chair of the Chatham Conservation Commission and current chair of the Chatham Community Preservation Committee, Michael Tompsett is a trusted individual in the community and well versed in motivating town politics. He also lives directly at the end of Runway 24 and has openly admitted that he doesn’t like the noise of being situated directly under the flight path. His attempts to reduce or eliminate airport operations at the expense of the community while leveraging the public trust from his other town positions is unethical. He should recuse himself from this subject and let the Chatham Airport Commission work with the community without injecting any further bias into the process.
Alum Is Not The Answer
Thanks again for covering our ponds! With 1,000 freshwater ponds on Cape Cod and 60 freshwater ponds in Orleans, we need to develop affordable and environmentally healthy ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.
I’d like to clarify several points in your recent article. Rather than 40, alum has only been used to treat a dozen or so ponds on the Cape. The most recent application was at Hinckley’s Pond in Harwich, where they applied over 100,000 gallons of chemicals.
While the town’s counsel has indicated they could submit a notice of intent to the conservation commission, he hasn’t commented on the town’s right to apply alum over the objections of an abutter. Because Uncle Harvey’s is less than 10 acres, it’s jointly owned by the abutters and it would be difficult for the town to get permission to override the objections of an owner. While the conservation commission doesn’t decide ownership issues, they’ve previously indicated they wouldn’t override an owner’s objections.
The suggestion that they block off an area of the pond is hardly credible and, I’d encourage The Chronicle to give the consultants an opportunity to withdraw that suggestion. In any event, the state regulators have indicated, in writing, that the treatment applies to the entire pond.
Those advocating alum have repeatedly pointed out that alum is used to treat drinking water. They fail to point out that the resulting sludge, which will coat the bottom of Uncle Harvey's forever, needs to be disposed of as industrial waste.
Community supports Monomoy Middle School's Heroes Luncheon
One of the highlights for Monomoy Middle School sixth-graders is the annual unit on “The Finest Hours,” where students expand their experience of the book by visiting historical sites and interviewing local first responders, culminating in the Community Heroes Luncheon at Chatham Bars Inn. Many thanks to the Atwood House Museum, Chatham Orpheum, and author Casey Sherman for making this unit so exciting for students. This event relies on community support, and we are so appreciative of the businesses that donated space, staff, and food for the luncheon: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham Perk, Chatham Squire, Chatham Village Cafe and Bakery, JoMama's NY Bagels and Coffeehouse, Mom and Pops Burgers, Pain D'Avignon Café Boulangerie, and The Talkative Pig. We are so thankful for the support from businesses, organizations, and volunteers in our community, and, of course, the stellar teachers who organize it all!
Joy Jordan, community engagement coordinator
Monomoy Regional School District
Take Lead In Historic Preservation
Thank you, Jim McNair, for the timely, heartfelt letter Feb. 6, “Taking Care of Our History.” Like Paul Revere, you sound the alarm. “All over Cape Cod, and in so many other parts of the northeastern United States, historical, architecturally significant homes and buildings are being torn down and replaced by tasteless, graceless, and lot-to-lot line structures with poor design.”
Thank heaven that didn’t happen to the centuries old antique Fisher-Whiting Home that our youngest son bought in Dedham last summer. When we first inspected the house, our reaction was, “No, it’s too old, circa 1661, it may have costly repairs even with many updates, the stairs look steep, etc.”
Then, we started hearing the fascinating recorded history…how three regicide judges from England hid in a tiny, secret space by the chimney in 1661…how antique blue and white Delft tiles portray Bible stories on one of the five fireplaces…how Dedham friends convinced the new owner not to tear down this landmark in 1872, etc. By Thanksgiving, all sitting ‘round the tavern-like dining room by the huge fireplace, we were in love with the captivating charm of this home. It will keep getting better with more stories to add.
Chatham has an opportunity to be a leader in historic home preservation by drafting bylaws that save and protect these treasures. It’s time to step up and tell aggressive developers, “No more tear downs!” Again, thank you Jim for reminding us all of the vital importance to protect our history.
Seniors Deserve New Center
In response to the letter from Leonard Lepard regarding the new senior center, we have never and never will base the value of our votes on the amount of taxes paid. All of our votes are equal weather we pay $0 or $10,000 a year.
Chatham has a broad elderly population made up of many people who worked and paid their taxes their entire adult lives. We value our seniors and they are as important to us as our school age children. I'm sorry you are from a town where apparently, judging by your opinion in your letter, you feel entitled. Well, guess what Mr. “Beverly” Lepard, you are no more special in this town then any of our senior population. These people have worked hard and made and kept this town the lovely seaside community that it is. It is because of them that you found this community to be the place you wanted your summer home to be. They took care of us for many years and now it's time for us to take care of them. Their current building is in need of great repair. It does not look to be very handicap accessible and is very small. This center provides meals, checks on our elders who are alone, provides transportation and many other services that benefit others also like their SHINE program which helps people through the insurance maze of health care. You sir, will one day find yourself in need of services like these and I hope for your sake you live in a town where people care more then you seem to.
Chatham Seniors Deserve Better
Facts matter, yet selectmen continue to repeat disproven talking points. The public was never presented with the middle school site. It was rejected at the town staff level. Voters were told it was owned by the school district when it's owned by the town. We were never told the district lease allowed for returning surplus property to the town.
A private citizen did what the town failed to do. He identified municipal-zoned, town-owned property that allows a far less expensive, more desirable one-story facility in a more easily accessible area on a much safer road, with plenty of green space and parking—with no impact on playing fields or the bike path.
Selectman Nicastro is blaming private citizens for taking so long to identify the site town staff and consultants missed. He said, "You can get 500 signatures for anything" (despite being collected in the dead of winter in five days). He questioned the intelligence of those who signed the petition; ”Many of the signers may not have known exactly what they were backing." He said a senior center would "unnecessarily cannibalize school property." Is that what he thinks of a council on aging?
He called private citizens who identified the site, drew up the petition, and the 511 voters who signed it—our Constitutional right as citizens to petition—and his constituents "a sideshow." It's dismissive at best, and not a winning strategy considering there were 102 more signatures than those who voted for 1610 Main St. Jan. 4.
Who will pay the price if this "all or nothing" strategy fails to get a two-thirds vote in May, leaving seniors empty handed because selectmen refused to support studying the middle school site now as a viable alternative? It will be seniors who pay the heavy price, ending up with nothing. Mr. Nicastro says he's "fed up with people throwing properties at us." At least 511 voters disagree. We all want and deserve better, especially seniors.
Questions Viability Of School Site
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of enjoying a presentation at the Chatham Men’s Club by the town and its architect/designer regarding the then proposed senior center at the Middle Road site. Afterwards I had an opportunity to chat with the architect/designer’s representative, and I have to admit that, skeptical though I was, I was impressed with the thorough and comprehensive nature of the design and their working knowledge of the practical and legal aspects of ADA and senior-facility design requirements. This was not slap-dash, but a well-considered design that would have been not only a credit to the town, but a highly functional facility for Chatham’s seniors.
I have yet to hear the proponents of the “school property” site affirm that they are committed to such a well-designed, highly functional, and well-considered facility, and that there is not some undisclosed Phase-2 to their opposition to the Main Street site which would seek to promote some Mickey Mouse facility that is barely better than what the COA has now.
Speaking of property, there is an issue regarding who owns the “school property,” an issue more subtle than what has been mentioned so far. Massachusetts is a caveat emptor state, which means in practical terms that over time title to specific property may become a mess, to use a well-trod legal descriptor. Additionally, several years ago, a local attorney I know brought to my attention that in those halcyon days of yore there was a fire in 1827 that destroyed most of Barnstable County’s title documents, putting into question the chain of ownership to many Chatham properties. That fire is noted on the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds website at the bottom of the home page.
It should be incumbent upon the proponents of the “school property” site to engage a truly disinterested, third-party expert in land title to assess the relevant filings, transfers, and the site itself, and opine not only on who owns the “school property” (and why that is), but also what (if any) liens exist and if there be any adverse possession that might raise questions about ownership. If the town does not actually own all of the proposed “school property” free and clear and/or if those with a claim on the use of the “school property” are not explicitly willing to waive such claims, then that would likely end the “school property” option as a practical matter.
A Better COA Option
I am one of the 511 Chatham citizens who signed a petition to provide an alternative to the 1610 Main St. site for the council on aging (COA).We do not want the COA to leave the May annual town meeting empty-handed.
The property on Stepping Stones Road has numerous advantages including but not limited to: A cost efficient one-story building; accessibility(no roundabouts); few topographical issues that drive up the cost; room for expansion; sewered and already zoned municipal area; plenty of parking; not in a water resource protection district or in the historic business district.
The board of selectmen is holding a discussion on the Stepping Stones property on Monday, Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. It is important for us to attend this meeting in an effort to convince the selectmen that this is definitely the better site!
One Vote For Stepping Stones Rd.
I am so pleased that the voices of reason and common sense have been so active in Chatham. I applaud their efforts.
If Richard E. Ryder, who resides permanently across Stepping Stones Road from the middle school, could vote I think he would be in favor of building a COA building on town-owned land near where he is. Actually, the Ryder family did sell some land to the town of Chatham for open space just to the northwest of the airport.
Back in 1933, when he died, a support group for elderly people was unheard of. I think it was called neighbors looking out for each other.
Richard G. Ryder
Listen To The People
Finally, 511 Chatham petitioners have found the ideal site for our new COA center. Let's move forward, forego any further bickering and schedule a special town meeting. Our board of selectmen missed the opportunity of using the middle school land for the council on aging facility. Few knew that this property included almost 32 acres, providing an outstanding site for a new senior center on Stepping Stones Road! When a citizen questioned the possibility of using less than two acres of that land, voters were told by a selectman that the town did not own the middle school property. The town manager and the other selectmen did not make any correction, thus, discussion of this property ended. The next day citizens researched and learned that the land was owned by the town and leased to the Monomoy Regional School District, that it could easily be declared “surplus land” and returned for town use, just as Harwich did with its middle school, which is now their cultural center. Too much energy, time, and money has been wasted. Now it is time to consider what is in the best interest of our senior citizens, taxpayers, and the town. Clearly, the Stepping Stones property is a better site and will ensure a safer, more cost effective, and more convenient location.The Middle Road architectural plan has been paid for and can be adapted to this site. After a decade of discussion, it is time to listen to the people's petition and vote to secure an excellent site.
Anne B. Timpson
Airport Commission Missed Opportunity
At their January meeting, once again the airport commission turned a deaf ear to the Chatham community as well as rejecting a recommendation from the board of selectmen to form an advisory committee to aid in producing the airport commission's master plan.
A new advisory committee would have a lot of catching up to do but would also provide more coherent, fact- based feedback for the commission to consider. Unfortunately without an advisory committee, the airport commission meetings will continue with the community asking questions that may or may not go unanswered and the pilots insisting that no one who is not a pilot should have anything to do with the airport's master plan. At the January meeting, the rude behavior of the commission culminated in one commissioner suggesting instead of bringing our questions to the meeting, we should just put them on the "web" and the questions will eventually be answered. This type of thinking does not encourage intelligent dialogue among the parties.
An advisory committee would help us learn from each other and work together to write a comprehensive master plan that continues to give us a safe community-based airport that protects our real estate values, quality of life issues, the environment and our town.
Without intervention from town officials, the commission has given us no choice but to go forward with the airport commission's option two—discussing and questioning the present master plan chapter by chapter.
Nothing has changed, but we will continue to battle our way forward in an effort to protect our Chatham community.
Consider Economic Impact Of COA
It's hard to fathom why folks who fought to protect the interests of West Chatham businesses are now working against them by opposing a senior center there. Local West Chatham businesses could use a boost. There is a lot at stake when choosing a site, either in West Chatham village center or on Stepping Stones Road. Let's hear from Chatham's economic development committee and community development department if locating a senior center in West Chatham will boost the economy and revitalization efforts there.
Chatham's zoning board should consider whether the current and future impact of a busy senior center at either site is detrimental to the neighborhood and prohibited by Chatham's zoning laws. Why disturb a quiet, safe residential neighborhood on Stepping Stones Road when a village center location is available?
Chatham's conservation commission and open space committee should weigh in with what they think about clear-cutting an acre and a half of town-owned open space on Stepping Stones Road. Town meeting recently turned down a similar proposal to clear-cut town-owned open space for a parking lot at the Ryder's Cove landing. Why destroy open space for development when an already developed site has been generously donated to the town for a senior center?
Chatham's historical commission should consider the best site for preserving Chatham's historic development pattern of prominently siting the town's major civic buildings on main street in a village center; an historic practice professional historic preservationists refer to as "Designing the Future to Honor the Past".