Letters To The Editor: Sept. 24, 2020
The Real Price Of Plastic Water Bottles
As a citizen of Orleans and someone who has worked for 20 years for marine scientists, I am voicing my strongest possible support for a ban on all commercial sales of single-use plastic water bottles in Orleans. As a Cape Codder, I urge all my fellow citizens throughout this unique and cherished place we call home to ask for the same in your own hometowns.
I write this letter in full support of the grassroots efforts of Sustainable Practices (sustainablepracticesltd.org), which has already succeeded in aiding citizens’ bans of plastic water bottles in municipal buildings and activities in Orleans and five other Cape towns. I encourage your readers to visit their website and join in their mission.
Taken together, the economic, environmental, and public health costs generated by our addiction to what I call “plastic water” are staggering. I would ask all your readers to do themselves and their families a favor, even if they have already sworn off bottled water. The next time you visit the supermarket, walk to the end of the bottled water aisle, stop and just look. As you scan those towers of plastic bottles wrapped in even more plastic wrapping to be tossed away, absorb these realities:
Your own tap water goes through far more frequent and rigorous testing than the bottled water you are looking at, that is sold to you at 135 times the cost (which can be 45 percent tap water anyway, but far less regulated);
If the case of water you buy from that aisle sat on a loading dock or in a truck in 90-plus degree heat for any length of time, there’s a good chance the poisonous bisphenol-A, or BPA, that is part of its composition, has had a chance to leach into the water;
80 percent of marine litter is caused by plastic;
Plastic kills over one million seabirds every year and well over 100,000 marine mammals;
Micro plastics in the ocean enter the food web; any fish-eating human being is part of this web;
The economic costs of plastic pollution as it affects tourism, the fishing industry and shipping are estimated at $8 billion annually;
Recycling was in part invented as a marketing ploy by the very same fossil fuel companies that produce single-use plastic; and for a number of reasons, it never has and never will catch up to the ever-growing plastics industry;
Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced through 2015, 6.3 billion has become plastic waste — only 9 percent has been recycled
When you think of all of these incredibly detrimental outcomes from the sale and use of single-use plastic bottled water as you look down that supermarket aisle, I truly hope your next purchase will be a sturdy, permanent personal water bottle that might just end up becoming the wisest purchase you’ve made this year.
Many Help Marconi Series
I want to thank the many people who sent notes of appreciation for my virtual talk done from the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center on Thursday, Sept. 3. It was fun to research and to talk with the few people who had actual recollections of Chatham during World War II and to locate many period videos. Over 100 people registered for this virtual production.
It find it important to recognize that coordinating the Boy Scouts outside, and a talk indoors with a camera, wireless microphones, and visuals including vintage film clips is challenging to a volunteer organization on a very low budget. My personal thanks to the team that accomplished this feat: Liz McCarte, Kristen Clothier, Ron Farris, Bob Fishback, Glenn Greenough, and Tom Scott for their contributions of equipment, time and talent. I especially want to thank the Chatham Boy Scouts for their lowering of the flag ceremony which was so well done and a fitting closure as the last production of the 2020 Summer Series.
Questions Upweller Project
It seems that the push to extend the tourist season on the Cape is having success; certainly the crowds abound here in Chatham. I’m happy for the merchants and restaurateurs that have managed to stay afloat so far through the pandemic.
That brings to mind a question: Do we really need another (expensive) tourist attraction in Chatham? I’m talking about the upweller project on Bridge Street. Although the selectmen running for office have all stated they want to prioritize minimal spending, they can’t seem to help themselves from adding embellishments to projects that were thought of years ago, before the difficulties arising from increasing crowds and traffic, and the unforeseen pandemic, were imagined. Now I read that the proposed upweller building by the junction of Stage Harbor and the Mill Pond, should have “picnic tables” and “viewing deck” suitable for tourists, including handicap access, and room in the building for “educational purposes.” Why?
There are existing upwellers in both Wellfleet and in Harwich Port. The one in Harwich Port welcomes visitors and educational groups. My husband and I visited it with the Chatham Newcomers group. Harwich Port is really not very far from Chatham.
It’s understandable that our current upweller should have a generator in case of loss of power from weather incidents. But is it necessary to enlarge the project when selectmen are supposed to be holding down expenses?
It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid to open The Chronicle for fear of what new project I’ll discover in the pipeline.
Red Designation Problematic
You had to laugh at the Sept. 14 Chatham Selectmen's meeting. They are in knots over our red designation. They attempt to deceive the public with their talk of a low population relative to COVID cases. However, they know that all cases related to our non-resident population are not reported here. How many of our 25,000 "extras" will we ever learn had or do have COVID-19?
Time To Wake Up
Is there anyone out there who would deny that the United States of America is under attack? For years I have been watching as God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are being pushed out of this country and God's church as we know it is no more. We have thrown out the 10 Commandments, aborted millions of babies a year, use the Lord's name in vain and now are frowned upon to greet a friend with the words "Merry Christmas." Does anyone believe God is going to stick around where He isn't wanted?
God is saying "goodbye" to America and as He leaves, His covering of protection is diminishing and as a result the country is becoming spiritually darker and darker and more and more evil. Without God's love and protection America is doomed.
The three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, took the last train for the coast the day America died! Wake up everybody!
Merchandise In Poor Taste
As a long-time summer resident and homeowner in Chatham, I have enjoyed shopping in the beautiful shops downtown. Recently I made a purchase at a downtown shop on Main Street, I was shocked to see bright yellow coffee mugs and matching "huggies" for sale with crude, offensive, and inappropriate language on them prominently displayed for families with young children and visitors to see. Chatham has a well-deserved reputation of a charming, refined community in which the townspeople take a great deal of pride. The poor taste exhibited by this giftware (and I use the term loosely) is not the culture in which the town wants to be representative of their community.
Bridge Needs Cleanup
A couple of years ago a very nice new bridge was built on Route 28 crossing Pleasant Bay on the boundary of Chatham and Harwich. The project was very nicely finished to include a new sidewalk/curbing, etc. It has now been completely neglected and the sidewalk and curb is just a mass of weeds. Surely in these challenging times for the tourism industry the public works department can do a better job of maintaining this very beautiful part of the Cape. Thirty minutes' work every couple of weeks is all it requires.
Plastic Bottles Should Be Banned
I applaud Wellfleet and Brewster as both passed an ordinance prohibiting single-use plastic water bottles. I urge every town on the Cape and indeed the entire country to do the same. Surely everyone knows by now how harmful these bottles and other plastics are to not only the environment where they are ruining oceans, rivers and lakes, but also to the very air we breathe and earth we trod.
A few days before reading about the Cape towns’ votes, I saw people at the grocery store with heavy cases of plastic covered plastic water bottles at the checkout line. How sad that was. Not only are these people wasting their money, since our water of the Cape is among the finest in the country, they are also adding to the pollution that is killing our oceans and air. It is very easy to simply fill a stainless steel bottle with fresh tap water — add an ice cube if you want it cold. Slip it in your jacket or pants pocket. I’ve been doing that for years and I walk and hike almost every day with my trusty Swell bottle keeping me hydrated. Please, voters, when your town takes up the bottle bill, vote to abolish these horrid objects. It might seem too late to save the planet, but perhaps we can still try, for our grandchildren’s sakes and our own.
No Relation, Thankfully
I am not now nor have I ever been related to Michael Caputo. Further, I disagree with all of his lunatic ideas.
Joseph P. Caputo
Response To Cranberry Valley Letter
Mary Ann Wall, thanks for weighing in on this issue (“Cranberry Valley Corrections,” Sept. 10). We need to make it clear to the selectmen of Harwich that we, as voting taxpayers, have concerns and are willing to take the time and effort to have our voices heard.
She made a number of points in the letter. Since checking accuracy of statements is on everyone’s mind today, I asked Bob Connor to review his sources of information. The number and makeup of members came directly from Roman Greer. The financial reporting issue came directly from a member of the finance committee and is a matter of public record. The important items came from clear open sources.
When it came to comparing our membership count to Dennis and Yarmouth, that is not readily available information but the general numbers came from two different people who have worked for both courses over the last four years. The numbers are substantially less than CV! The specific numbers are not really relevant since the disparity is great and both towns have multiple courses. Harwich has only one! This begs the question as to how those two towns can operate multiple courses with fewer members and the same fee structure as Harwich. Incidentally, Dennis also freezes the cost to senior citizens once they reach a certain age and both courses use an 80/20 allocation of tee times.
Being a municipal asset drives the point home. We are the taxpayers and will cover any shortfall for the operational cost. Why are we routinely being given lower priority than non-residents? The comments have been made by multiple sources that member/non-member time is allocated on a 70/30 basis. On two separate recent occasions, we have been told by a senior member of the golf staff that the 70/30 is the split but on busy weekends it is set to 60/40. Most notably his occurred on last July 4 and Labor Day weekends.
The impact of the pandemic has been to highlight and exaggerate the membership count issue and the impact on us as taxpayer members. I personally have only been a member for four years after being a member of Dennis for many years. During the first three years, I felt a definite step down from the access to playing time and the general condition of the course as it compared to my experience in Dennis.
From a financial perspective, the annual reporting of the CV contribution to the town budget has been an issue that a member of the finance committee has been attempting to get resolved for a number of years. There is no allocation of employee benefits to the overall cost of the golf course. Wouldn’t it be fiscally responsible to include this cost so that we as taxpayers know the actual number? There is a concern that there is a hidden cost that the taxpayers will have to cover in the future. Is this concern real?
There is a request to put the discussion of the golf course on the board of selectman agenda. I hope that occurs.
William J. Fallon
Wrong Time For Info Session
It may be a surprise to many – most – that the Chatham Planning Board held a West Chatham Neighborhood Center zoning Initiative information session on Sept. 21 and that there is a survey that goes along with it. Notification and information relative to the meeting has been insufficient. Also, it is a virtual meeting, and again, many, perhaps most of us, do not attend Zoom or other such meetings.
Timing is everything, and I believe that this is not the time to discuss such important issues as size of development, architecture, set backs, dimensional requirements, buffering, parking, on and on. Not during a pandemic and certainly not until the roadway project is completed in West Chatham. One problem at a time, please.
Until we actually see the configuration of the roadway in real time, other decisions should be postponed. After all, the West Chatham visioning project was completed in 2014. Implementation can be delayed for a while longer.
In a document describing the West Chatham Initiative, selective sections of the long range comprehensive plan were quoted. Completely ignored was the plan’s very first goal, which is also the first goal of the planning board’s master plan. It states, “Bylaws and regulations should be created to ensure that intensity is maintained or minimized – never maximized.”
If this initiative’s intention is to achieve the comprehensive plan’s vision, then it is this goal 1.1 that should be focused on, and no plan should provide choices that deviate from it.
David E Burns, MD
West Chatham Association, Inc.
Nature Column Strikes Home
If you’ve not yet read Mary Richmond’s article “Nature’s Ungrateful Children” in the Sept. 17 Cape Cod Chronicle, go search it out. It is profound.
Sue and Fred Plumb
Appreciates Local Care
I have lived in Chatham and/or Harwich for decades but had never had to go to Cape Cod Hospital. Recently, I experienced a medical episode and was taken via ambulance from Fontaine to the hospital. I spent hours in the ER, then briefly in a room before my situation warranted being moved to the ICU under the care of Dr. Peter Friedman. I am home now but wanted to publicly acknowledge the wonderful folks who came to my aid: the Harwich paramedics, the nurses (every one of them!) and Dr. Friedman. I was so impressed with everyone I encountered on this very scary journey. We are very lucky here on Cape Cod to have such fine medical care available immediately. I will be forever grateful.
Birds Of A Feather?
I recently read an article that stated 80 percent of white Evangelical Christians voted for the "flawed" Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Calling the morally bankrupt Trump flawed is akin to calling the Titanic a rowboat.
Anyway, his support from evangelicals going into the November election has fallen somewhat but Jerry Farcical Jr. is still a huge Trump supporter. File that under “birds of a feather,” big time.
Bike Barriers Needed
As a followup to Colleen Baker’s letter of Sept. 10 (“Bicyclists Need To Stop At Crossings”), regarding the rail trail crossings, I totally agree that many bicyclists ignore the stop signs and ride through. She suggests a physical barrier which would be good as it would force the bicyclists to stop. I agree, but a quick simple solution could be speed bumps high enough to force the cyclists to stop and dismount. The cyclists should know that they are at fault if they ride across the road and are hit by a vehicle. I recall several years ago reading about a bicyclist who was hit by a car and injured and was held to be at fault.
The off-season would be a good time to do something.
LCOC Deserves More Attention
For years we have noticed The Chronicle’s restrained coverage of the 40-year-old Lower Cape Outreach Council (LCOC), named by SCORE in 2019 as the Non-Profit of the Year for Cape Cod and the Islands.
The latest example was your abbreviated article on Sept. 17 on the partnering of Housing Assistance Corp. (HAC) with LCOC. This enables “one-stop shopping” in person or by phone for Lower and Outer Cape residents for housing, food, car repair loans, job readiness training and other needs.
Your readers should know that in 2019 LCOC provided almost $600,000 of these critical services to the Lower Cape (Chatham $187,000, Harwich $209,000, Orleans $194,000). Those numbers will double this year as they help people deal with COVID-19 and its consequences. They include the food pantry in Chatham Elementary which is filled by LCOC.
LCOC is run by Chatham resident Larry Marsland (serving since 2002) and a hard-working staff of three. Volunteer time totaled 23,000 hours in 2019. They all deserve the vocal and financial support of this paper and the residents of all three communities. For details, go to www.lcoutreach.org.
Michael and Ann Westgate
Ban Good Place To Start
I liked carrying a small plastic water bottle that fits comfortably in my jacket pocket. When empty, I’d toss it into a recycle barrel. Very convenient. But then I learned that most of my “recycled” bottles were actually being dumped into the ocean. No one wanted them after all. Scientists are now informing us (e.g. Ocean Research Project 2019) that our ocean's plastic trash is breaking into tiny pieces and forming a non-degradable blanket on the ocean floor. Great. Now our plastics are smothering even the most primary life forms that are vital to the ocean's (and our) food chain. Sounds hopeless.
Do I support a Cape-wide ban on single use plastic water bottles? Yes, because I believe in second chances. We human beings can learn to become better caregivers to the earth. The ban is a good place to start. Please, let’s do this together.
Beth M. Avery
Birth Control For Seals?
I believe that it's time to seriously consider minimizing the seal population in and around Cape Cod.
The overpopulation of seals on Monomoy Island, and other local areas presents a menace for us in several ways that affect our economy.
Seals (1) attract sharks, which affects tourism (restaurants, lodging, swimming); (2) eat tons of local fish, which means our fishermen need to go farther off shore into more dangerous waters, increasing their costs and risks, and then deal with reduced “catch,” driving prices up, etc.; and (3) excrete more waste, which causes more pollution, again deterring tourism and also fouling the shellfish population.
I know that environmentalists and most humans frown on assassinating seals. I do too. However, I'd like to know why I've never heard mention of birth control. There must be a way in which this could be done. It might take several years.
At the appropriate time of year, a good marksman could easily deploy some sort of birth control, if it exists, to hundreds of the pesky seals, in one mid-week afternoon, out on Monomoy Island, or other known habitat. Or, perhaps laced bait could be deployed by local fishermen. They all know where the seal population is heaviest.
There's no need to be 100 percent accurate. Any effort in this direction would be beneficial. And, when the herd was down to a reasonable, sustainable level, man could desist in their efforts, until the need rose again.
There must be a way. Why can't we give it a try?
Time To Save Oldest House
Right now we have an opportunity to save the oldest intact house in Chatham believed to be built for the son of William Nickerson, founder of Chatham. It is determined to be a First Period House (1626 to 1725) and is very well preserved, including its original beehive oven and fireplace.
We have only a short time to get support from our town government to rescue this house for the public good. There is a lovely spot on the former Eldredge Garage property on Main Street that would be perfect for a relocation spot. Existing parking spaces will not be compromised. It could become a visitor center or museum.
If you have not signed this citizen's petition of public support, you may do so at the Ben Franklin store, Island Pursuit, Chatham Hardware, the Cook's Nook, Tommy Dixon, or sign online at protectourpast.org. Or at the showcase at the corner of Main and Seaview streets.
Together we can save it so residents, part-time residents and visitors, young and old, can experience the essence of Chatham's history (Or we can lose it...once gone, lost forever).
The writer is a member of the advisory committee of Protect Our Past.