Letters to the Editor, Jan. 21

Letter to the Editor

A Win-Win Compromise


In West Chatham, runway protection zones (RPZs)/safety-zones at both ends of the runway contain multiple homes, stores, offices and roads, which are declared by the FAA as “unacceptable, incompatible land uses” and unsafe. Where this occurs, the FAA AC150/5300-13A §322 recommends moving the RPZs away from the unacceptable land uses. This then requires planes to land further along the runway, which reduces the available landing distance, but by less than 600 feet in Chatham. Aircraft taking off would still start from one end of the runway, but with a reduced take-off distance. (View these RPZs at mandmtom.us/Airport).

These changes should not affect use of the airport by light aircraft. Moving the RPZs to exclude homes, stores and the roads increases the safety of the affected residents and West Chatham, and mitigates decades of town zoning negligence. In addition, the start of the glide-path surfaces would be correspondingly displaced along the runway, so that beyond the runway, these surfaces would be raised 30 feet, thus avoiding the immediate need for expensive avigation easements, and destruction of trees and wetlands. Planes would also fly 30 feet higher over residents.

This change would have the benefit of eliminating the threat of increased commercial traffic at the airport, because commercial flights would have to use Cape Cod Gateway Airport in Hyannis. This would avoid the need for instrument, poor visibility and risky straight‐in approaches, intended primarily for the benefit of commercial flights. Without the large Pilatus PC-12 turbojet, there would also be no need to remove approximately 12 acres of woodlands and wetlands, and the bike path.

AMPU §2.2.3 emphasizes the importance of maintaining vacant RPZs. “When feasible, the airport should make every effort to acquire property under the runway approach and departure surfaces, at a minimum, to the limits of the RPZ.” The FAA warned in a 1983 advisory that allowing residential development around an airport would ultimately cause it to close. Well, 38 years later, displacing the RPZs at Chatham Airport is the right thing to do and a win-win compromise. It would be very welcome to the Chatham community and would cost nothing compared to the millions of dollars proposed in the AMPU. The FAA only has jurisdiction over airspace, not ground level property. There have been successful displacements at other airports and is mentioned as an option by Gale Associates in section 6.3.1 of the AMPU, so this approach can and should be seriously considered.

Michael Tompsett



Misleading Headline On Restaurant Story


I am writing in response to the article written by William F. Galvin titled “Restaurants Fail to Show Up For Liquor License Hearings” (Jan. 14).
Contrary to the misleading title, The Port Restaurant and Ember did not “fail to show up” at the Jan. 12 hearing, rather the restaurants were not afforded the right to show up.

As one of the owners, I emailed Interim Town Administrator Joseph F. Powers on Jan. 6, corresponding copies were sent to Attorney Gregg J. Corbo, Administrative Secretary Danielle Delaney and Administrative Secretary Patti Macura, to inform all parties of the fact that I was traveling back to Massachusetts on Monday, Jan. 11 and per the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order, would require a 14-day quarantine or a negative COVID test in order to appear in person for the hearing and thus could not attend. My email was never responded to. No arrangements were made to allow me alternate or remote access to the hearing and no continuance was granted. 

Attorney Ray Tomlinson, who represents both restaurants, also informed the interim town administrator, who presided over the hearing, in writing of his conflict to appear at the scheduled Jan. 12 hearing due to a prior medical appointment. His request was denied.
There was no failure on the part of the restaurants to show up. There was no failure on the part of the restaurants to communicate their conflicts with the scheduled date of the hearing. The failure was on the part of the town to offer proper due process and the title of the article did not accurately convey these facts. 

Judd Brackett



Will We Ever See Compromise?


Today, as my colleague and I worked with eighth grade students on their civics assignment, which was a reading on the creation of our current form of government titled Major Clash (irony #1), we read the rhetorical question “Can you picture a government where no one is willing to compromise?” (irony #2). I know what the anticipated answer to that question would have been in my personal eighth grade world – I can’t picture that! – and what today’s answers among 12- and 13-year-old students would be. “Of course I can picture that. Duh! What else would I picture?” Seriously, after eight years of President Obama’s presidency, where obstructionism became the new norm of a Congress grossly out of contact with the people of the nation, and then four years of President Trump, none of these children can picture a government where people are willing to compromise. Why would they? How could they? They’ve never seen it.

Am I saying that I never saw debate and division over politics in my growing up years? No! Absolutely not. My mother was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and my dad a hard-core Republican. My first memories of presidential discord in the home came over the Nixon/McGovern race. I cut my political teeth on a household full of heated discussions sparked by the nightly news covering topics like Vietnam and Watergate, impeachment and peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests. At my grandparents’ house, we had folks all over the spectrum – conservative, liberal, union supporters, non-union supporters. Our Sunday dinners were full of lively discourse. And even though my grandfather, a naturalized citizen who immigrated from Scotland, disagreed with much of what we young folk had to say, he was always, obviously bursting with pride over our willingness to stand our ground and fight for our views with the skills modeled by the older family around us – listen to others with respect, consider others’ views, make arguments based on beliefs, not by demonizing those who hold differing views. This is the place he’d moved to, we were the fruit of his labor. He was proud.

My family shaped my understanding of democracy. And there are so many times – those of you whose parents are gone will know what I mean – when I still think I’ve got to call one of them to talk about things. And then I have that needle jab of remembering “they’re not here.” I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m going to: there have been times lately when I’m actually glad they’re not here to see what is becoming acceptable in this nation. It would hurt them more deeply than I ever would want to see my parents hurt.

I’m begging the members of our state and national governments to please, please, please look to the future and create a government that makes it absolutely impossible for the children of this nation to picture a government where no one is willing to compromise.

Susanna Graham-Pye



Community Came Together For Holidays


Well, we asked for your support during this difficult time and…..wow! Did we receive it! Amidst requests from the COVID fund and local food pantries, there was a moment of concern that the elves were over-worked. I am happy to report that community caring and giving continues to be paramount in our beautiful seaside town. The chaos of the COVID pandemic has affected everyone. The financial burden already felt by many of our families has increased dramatically. Even the safety restrictions put in place certainly added to our challenge this year.

Yes, we traded shoppers for gift cards, online for in person, and hugs and conversation for drive through pick-ups, but it was a successful holiday season. We could not have done it without you! All those generous elves: year-rounders and summer visitors, local businesses, special donors, churches, and organizations – all came together in a safe and socially distanced way to make sure that local children had a Merry Christmas. Because we help support families throughout the year in a variety of ways, your participation and donations are critical to our success.

We applaud the people of Chatham for their ongoing concern for all who live in this town. Our team extends a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who helped in any way this year. We look forward to your participation next year and we welcome anyone who would like to join our efforts. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2021!

Stay safe – wash your hands, wear a mask, and keep your distance. It does make a difference! 

Pat Vreeland, Chatham Children’s Fund

Theresa Malone, Monomoy Community Services

Ginny Nickerson, The Chatham Angel Fund


Commission Needs To Work Together


From beginning to end, Jan. 13th's airport commission meeting was a total disgrace! The select board is always encouraging residents to volunteer and participate on a committee. After last night, I ask "why?" Why would anyone put themselves out there to be treated with such disrespect the way commissioner Susan Wilcox was treated last night?  The chairman's hubris was beyond rude and dismissive.

It's time for these commissioners to become a team and respect their fellow commissioners as well as the general public. By their silence, the other members of the commission were  complicit in the chairman's behavior. To publicly chastise a fellow commissioner – and especially one new to the commission who is trying so hard to bring issues to the table – is reprehensible. Makes one think the "old boys network" is alive and well in some places in Chatham. It is all on Channel 18's video.

When is it no longer the golden rule to respect your fellow man or woman? At the very least, at the beginning of the next airport commission meeting, Chairman Harrison owes a public apology to commissioner Wilcox. The airport commission members need to put their egos aside and remember that they are all equal on this team and its mission. They are to be working in the best interest of Chatham residents and welcoming our input.

Carol Gordon

South Chatham


Rethink The Beauty Of A Cape Cod Lawn


I consider myself to be a conservationist, so I was happy to see Kirsten Andres article "A Cape Cod Lawn" in last week's paper. In recent years I have watched plots being razed to accommodate new homes with no replanting of native trees or grasses, only to see lawns with irrigation systems and the abundance of chemicals necessary to maintain them take their place. What were once beautiful habitats for birds and animals are no longer here.
I appreciate Kirsten's attempt to educate others on how important getting rid of a manicured lawn is for the environment. As a beekeeper I struggle with keeping my hive alive with a lack of native foraging plants and an abundance of chemicals that are used nearby. By introducing a cover crop of clover to my Cape Cod lawn this spring I hope to provide additional food for them while also adding much needed nitrogen to the soil in a natural way.
I agree with the idea that it is necessary for us all to "rethink pretty." We should all be willing to show that we care about our natural resources both for now and in the future.

Nancy Hendel



Belichick Is A True Patriot 


Good for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for declining to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump.
His refusal to accept the award supports the bedrock principles of democracy on which this country was founded. Unlike Trump, evidenced by his hideous incitement of the riotous mob that violently invaded the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Thankfully that violent and deathly insurrection to overturn the presidential election failed.
Coach Belichick is a true patriot and leader.
Good riddance to Trump.

Mike Rice

South Wellfleet


Appreciate Angel Flight Service


As a member of the Chatham Band, I'd like to "toot my horn” for Angel Flight.  I was not even aware that such an incredible medical service existed until I read Hart Fessenden's letter this week.  What a touching story!

I truly hope I never need to call them, but knowing this extra level of care exists right here at the Chatham Airport sure brings me great comfort.

Rebecca Arnold



Support Saving Boathouse

I am in support of returning the Chatham Coast Guard boat house to Chatham. Our historic past is quickly being lost.
I thank and commend David Doherty and the others who are working to save this valuable building and to those who are bringing our attention to the real and ongoing problem of our local history being demolished and lost forever.

Suzanna Nickerson



To Hull And Back


I am a bit amused to see that the old Coast Guard boathouse is possibly returning to Chatham from Hull. Like Bernie Webber and the crew of CG36500 on the night they rescued the Pendleton’s crew, nobody expected it to return. I hope the boathouse does return to promote Chatham’s unique maritime identity and promote the town’s economy.

The Coast Guard has long played an important role in Chatham’s maritime history, either through its lighthouses shepherding vessels to safe passage or the efforts of lifesaving crews to preserve the life of endangered mariners. As a taxpayer, I have always felt the Coast Guard was an exceptionally good deal, working hard every day to protect American lives and property. Most Chatham residents would probably agree, especially if they have any awareness of the Pendleton sinking on Feb. 18, 1952. If your readers haven’t done so, they should watch the film “The Finest Hours” to appreciate Chatham’s Coast Guardsmen’s bravery and skill. These reasons alone should suffice in supporting the return of this historic structure to Chatham, albeit to a different location from the one Bernie Webber knew.

The select board may respond that their duties lie elsewhere, that the town doesn’t have the time or resources to get involved with this structure. With imagination and cooperation with the various committees and groups in town, the boathouse could repay any investment. Groups like Protect Our Past (POP) or the Chatham Historical Society could provide informative and attractive signs interpreting the boathouse’s past. Volunteer groups could paint the structure or throw a few shingles on it as needed. The possibility of establishing an upwelling facility within the structure would perpetuate the shellfishery and the associated jobs that go with it. The boathouse would be another destination for visitors, providing that crucial spot for “selfies,” followed by buying a meal in town. The possibilities are almost endless, provided someone is clever enough to realize them, work with non-profits, and pursue grant funding.

Joshua M. Smith

Port Washington, N.Y.

The writer is a maritime historian and member of Protect Our Past.