Salute To Connick's Legacy
Once again, the coronavirus has disrupted another important town function. Our fire chief, Pete Connick, will be passing command to our newest Chief David DePasquele. This is an important ceremony to those who had the honor of serving with both Pete and David, and I wish I could attend as do many others. I've tried to find out just how many years Pete was an EMT instructor. The best I can get from his wife is "around 35." He was my instructor about 30 years ago. Not all EMTs go on to join a fire department. For me, my certification opened the door to a position with DMH Crisis Services. Later I did serve six years with Chatham Fire as a call EMT/Firefighter. It is impossible to count the thousands of lives saved by Pete's students, but all of them can be traced directly back to him. We cannot thank him enough!
Candidates For Exceptional Times
I write to endorse Andrea Reed and David Currier for Orleans select board, two exceptional individuals well-suited to these challenging times.
Orleans faces serious problems, such as erosion, sharks, a crumbling business sector, high housing costs, and a loss of full-time family residents — and now, the pandemic.
David is exceptional in his perseverance as a businessperson, his firsthand experience with local regulatory schemes, and his understanding of "forty-somethings," a group largely overlooked in local politics. Many people can talk about issues, but Dave is a doer, and that's essential in a context where it seems to take decades to make anything happen.
Andrea is exceptional in her intelligence; executive capacity; high standards, inexhaustible energy; willingness to listen and learn; and integrity — not to mention her nine years of service on the planning board, the last two as chair. Just by virtue of how she holds herself and operates, she will change the culture of the "old boys network," break up logjams, and engage talented people in the process of governing our town.
Relief For The Post Office
While The Chronicle's opinion piece, “Post Office Blues” (May 21), correctly points out the high value of post offices in our rural communities, your recommendation for consolidation to save money has already been implemented by USPS with limited financial success and overwhelming public upset. Large processing facilities have been closed nationwide and this has resulted in financial savings but also slower movement of mail. In order to move forward with the best financial success this storied institution needs relief on three fronts that the federal government can enact: permission to diversify its services to include banking and other electronic services; removal of the requirement that payments be made for future health care costs (nearly $58 billion has been paid over 13 years) which no other federal agency does; and adjusted shipping rates for companies like Amazon to make them more reasonable. Despite the poisonous rhetoric from one man hellbent on hurting the USPS, the organization has faced multiple challenges in its history and overcome them.
Do The Right Thing
I have seen so many acts of kindness during these times that an act of disregard seems to shock me probably more than it used to.
On Tuesday, May 26, at about 5:30 p.m., a teenage boy got off his bike and approached Carmine’s Pizza in Chatham. When I politely asked him if he had seen the signs saying that masks are required in downtown Chatham, he replied, “I don’t care.” When I told him he should care because he could make other people sick, he said, “Then stay home. I don’t care if I get you sick.”
I, along with hundreds of other Chatham citizens, attended the May 11 virtual town meeting to discuss how best to balance public health and vital economic concerns heading into the summer season. Like most other attendees, I was operating under the assumption that most people want to do the right thing. This young man serves as a harsh reminder that not everyone cares about doing the right thing. That, sadly, is something that we also have to factor into our plans.
Peck Purchase Deserves Support
Nearly eight acres on the slopes of Peck Hill, situated along the Namequoit River of Pleasant Bay, are already preserved; they were purchased by the town of Orleans in 2006 with funds from the Land Bank program and help from the state. Just across the Namequoit is the John Kenrick Woods, another conservation property wisely acquired by the town through a series of purchases in the early 2000s, again with the help of state funds.
Now, in 2020, the town has an opportunity to strengthen past investments by preserving another 2.5 acres that include the summit of Peck Hill and frontage on the Namequoit, overlooking Areys pond. This land, wooded with pines and oaks, contains an active wildlife corridor. It abuts the existing conservation land, and its natural condition helps protect the water quality of Pleasant Bay. Further development on the Cape’s largest estuary would harm an ecosystem that’s already stressed by nutrient loading, caused largely by runoff from nearby developed properties and their septic systems.
The purchase price, negotiated by the town’s open space committee, is $775,000, though a state grant is likely to cut that in half. The added value of this land to the region far exceeds that price.
Although the Orleans Conservation Trust is not involved in this project, we heartily endorse it. Only a handful of unprotected properties in Orleans approach the conservation importance of this land. This purchase represents a wise investment, but if we as Orleans residents forego opportunities like this one and permit such land to be developed, the allure of our town is lessened. Our natural resources are Orleans’ biggest draw, and we owe it to future inhabitants to protect those resources. Please show your support at town meeting!
Stephen O’Grady, director
Orleans Conservation Trust
Reed Cares Deeply About Orleans
Andrea Reed would be an excellent choice for the Orleans select board. As current chair of the Orleans Planning Board, she understands how to guide issues from concept to becoming actionable items on the town’s warrant, such as increasing our supply of affordable homes, improving the vitality and attractiveness of the village center, and encouraging greater use of walkways and bike paths. She invests the time required to study each issue and listens to all points of view before making a reasoned decision. As a long-time, permanent Orleans resident and owner of a local small business, she cares deeply about Orleans future, while at the same time acknowledging our town’s unique attributes as a New England maritime village.
Candidate's Environmental Commitment
I moved to Orleans with my wife Alie from Vermont three years ago after a career as an environmental lawyer and service on environmental and economic development boards. One of our daughters gave us membership in the Orleans Conservation Trust (OCT) as a welcoming gift, which connected us with OCT. Through my involvement with OCT I have had the pleasure of getting to know and working with fellow OCT board member Meff Runyon.
Meff’s commitment to the town of Orleans through his service on the Orleans select board, OCT and numerous other civic organizations is truly inspiring. He is remarkably well-informed on the pressing issues our community faces, a great listener and, when he does speak, his words carry great weight. My wife and I are especially supportive of Meff’s position that the extraordinary natural environment that we all treasure on the Cape is the foundation of every economic activity we undertake; and that conservation of those resources and eco-tourism not only can co-exist with a strong economy; for us they are the foundation of that economy.
Peter Van Oot
Constitution Not Carte Blanche
This letter is in response to that of Mr. Ron Beaty “Shutdown Violates Constitution” published in last week’s Chronicle.
First of all, even though I am a registered Democrat, I have nothing but praise for Governor Baker for his handling of the Covid pandemic in Massachusetts. What an unenviable position to be in: to try to protect the public health and at the same time minimize the damage to the economy.
Mr. Beaty says that “the facts and data have not justified Gov. Charlie Baker’s tyrannical strangulation of the economy.” What facts? What data? He provides none. This is unfounded personal opinion.
Mr. Beaty then goes on to claim that Governor Baker’s “four-phase economy re-opening process lacks basic logic and common sense.” Based on what proof? Again, this is personal opinion parading as objective fact.
More importantly, Mr. Beaty, the Constitution is not about you, it’s about us. It’s a social contract between the citizens and the government to ensure the greatest good and public safety; it’s not about unbridled individual freedom. I cannot drive 100 mph down the streets of Harwich, ignoring stop signs and stops lights because I’m in a hurry. That’s not my Constitutional right.
What we need in this crisis is to act together to share the burden and the pain, not baseless, divisive, self-serving rabble-rousing.
Be Patient, Be Sympathetic
This letter is in response to Mr. Beaty’s “Shutdown Violates Constitution” in your Letters of May 28. Mr. Beaty, I read your letter with great interest and also a great deal of sympathy. We are all very frustrated at having our lives put on hold. It has been an enormous loss to all of us. I hate staying at home. Not working. Seeing children staying home from school is the hardest thing for me to see. Our economy is in tatters and Cape Cod is no exception. We are not used to disruptions in our American lives. We think of ourselves as people who never stop, and who do not give in.
As a country, Americans have a certain sense of entitlement because we have never had a prolonged war fought on our home soil before, and believe me, Mr. Beaty, this virus is a war. We have lost over 100,000 people to date in this war. If you are lucky enough to have known people who survived a World War, especially the people in Europe, you’ll know that war presents itself as a series of sacrifices, and even as a cruel lesson in what we cannot control.
When I think of how businesses are suffering, I also think of the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who have broken hearts because they have lost loved ones to this virus. I would rather say to you, Mr. Beaty, “I am sorry for your loss, I hope that your business interests will recover as quickly as possible.” But I could never say that to someone who has lost the life of someone they love, who will never recover that loss. Let’s all be patient, let’s not be angry, and know that when we work together, we are stronger, and will support each other as the country learns how to open its doors with caution and safety in mind.
Wear Masks Downtown, Please
It will be very difficult for downtown Chatham to have a safe and successful re-opening this summer for several reasons. One of which is very obvious. On Saturday, May 29 at 2 p.m. my wife and I drove from the rotary to 400 Main. In the five minutes that took we counted 17 adults and several children not wearing masks. At 2:30 on our return we counted 14 adults and several children, no duplicates, not wearing masks. Thanks to the town's signs and common sense, many people were wearing masks. However it only takes one or two nonconforming individuals to ruin it for the rest of us. Unless you can require people to cooperate we just don’t see how a summer season can be achieved with any degree of safety, health or success. There are many more difficult hurtles to overcome besides mask wearing, if we cannot make this simple precaution happen how can we expect the more difficult tasks that follow to be achieved. We say this as Main Street Merchants and longtime Chatham Residents.
Richard and Fran Johnston
Runyon Cares About All Residents
As a high school student I’m part of the sometimes underrepresented youth population of Orleans. When Mefff Runyon’s campaign reached out to me personally asking for my support, I was pleasantly surprised. I got a chance to Zoom with Mefff to get to know him a little before I got on board.
As we talked I found myself seeing him more and more as an ideal candidate for selectman. I saw his financial background at Cape Cod 5 as a strength to help support our community through the pandemic’s economic fallout. I saw his commitments to opening up access to the water, and making Orleans safer for walkers and bikers as signs that he sees the little things that make this town great, and wants to improve them.
During our Zoom call, Mefff didn’t want to just talk about himself as a candidate, he wanted to know what I saw in Orleans that needed improving. That’s the kind of candidate Mefff is. Mefff reached out to this high school student when no other candidate did. He cares deeply about the concerns of every Orleans resident, no matter who they are. That’s why he has my support.