Plastic Bottle Ban A Moral Imperative
On behalf of the Earth-Honoring Faith Committee of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, I am writing in support of the proposed commercial single-use plastic water bottle ban in Chatham.
We at St. Christopher’s are deeply concerned about the deterioration in the quality of the town’s natural environment caused in recent years by the steadily increasing volume of litter – particularly single-use plastic water bottles – that has appeared on our beaches, waterways and roadways. Plastic litter degrades the appearance of our natural environment and diminishes the capacity of our ecosystems to function properly. Many species of seabirds, fish and marine mammals, such as sea turtles, ingest plastic debris that needlessly harms or kills them.
We strongly believe that human beings are obliged to live in harmony with the natural world, and accordingly, we view the protection of the town’s natural environment as an issue warranting particular attention at this time.
Limiting the use of plastics is an urgent moral imperative. We urge our fellow residents of Chatham to vote in favor of the proposed commercial single-use plastic water bottle ban at our next town meeting.
The Rev. Brian W. McGurk
Living In An Alternative Universe?
I have lived in West Chatham, off of Barn Hill Road, for more than 30 years. When I read the letters in The Chronicle, I am increasingly thinking that I must live in an alternative universe than those who are the authors of the letters.
As the roundabouts near completion this week, I am finding them easily navigable and a tremendous improvement over the prior traffic pattern. I go to my box at the post office just about every day and have yet to have trouble entering or exiting from the parking lot there.
I'm also finding it is much easier to take a left onto Route 28 from Barn Hill Road, as one only has to wait until those in the rotary have gone by. Similarly for left-hand turns onto Route 28 from George Ryder Road. The traffic moves a bit more slowly through the village, but it moves more steadily. (I believe that was the idea.)
Of course, this weekend and the summer will be the real tests for the new system, but I am optimistic based on my experience to date. In past summers there were times that I would not venture out onto Route 28; if I did, I was faced with a 10- to 15-car backup at the top of Barn Hill, with a wait of 20 minutes. I would watch as people put their lives at risk to force their way out into the steady stream of Route 28 traffic or waited for a kind soul to stop to let them out. For a few years, my teenage drivers were subject to a strict rule: no left turns onto Route 28. While I do expect there will still be delays at these intersections during peak times, I do not expect them to be as long or as dangerous.
Oh, and of course I am also in favor of allowing skydiving to return to the airport. It must be an alternative universe.
Wrong Building, Wrong Location
The current Chatham Council on Aging building is clearly inadequate, but a new, better-designed space should have been planned. The proposed 11,000-square-foot building is simply too big. Why does Chatham construct such huge buildings? They have to be staffed, heated, air-conditioned, insured, and maintained. There’s much empty space in many of our municipal buildings. The proposed COA plans overlook our 28,600-square-foot community center, which is underutilized, especially when students are in school and parents are working, generally the hours that the senior center is open. The Eldredge Public Library also offers many services and programs for the community. These possibilities should be part of the planning process and not duplicated.
At town meeting two years ago, we were told “It’s the COA’s turn.” Is this fiscally prudent at an approximate cost of $8.4-plus million, with a two-story building shoe-horned in on the 1610 Main St. lot, limited because of its size, shape, and topography? The location itself is dangerous, being situated in the middle of two roundabouts 900 feet apart. COA advocates did not want the senior center on the community center site because they could not safely turn left from the driveway. In retrospect, it’s a lot safer than here. Townspeople will be shocked when they see the extensive clear-cutting required, with all the trees removed on the east and west boundaries and the rear, encroaching into the conservancy area to provide parking. But it will be too late, and the impact on wildlife habitat will be incalculable. The conservation commission has not yet approved this intrusion and perhaps should not, regardless of town meeting’s vote. This is not the time to commit to a big new building, especially at the wrong location.
Gloria M. Freeman
Writer Misrepresented CORI Checks
The writer of the diatribe in last week’s You Guest It demonstrates a lack of knowledge along with a plethora of disinformation and invective typical of her naysayer approach to virtually every town initiative. She does not understand or perhaps ignores the tragic history of trauma throughout the country that necessitated school CORI checks. Otherwise, she would not have treated the issue of CORI checks so cavalierly.
Her statement that the Chatham Police Department confirmed that “visitors” do not require CORI checks is not only disingenuous, it is misleading. Seniors using the school building and grounds are not simply “visitors” as she would have us believe, but are occupants of the school and its grounds in the same way that children are.
Lt. Goddard of the Chatham Police Department confirmed that the department is not involved at all in school CORI checks. It is the Monomoy Regional School District that is required by law to conduct CORI checks of all persons who may have direct and unmonitored contact with school children. That includes seniors using the school building and grounds who may have such contact with school children.
I suspect most grandparents like me support CORI checks for adults of any age who may have unmonitored interaction with our grandchildren in school. That includes seniors housed in the same school who might have such interactions with children, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Most grandparents would gladly undergo a CORI check to interact with school children.
If anyone is “careless” and “insulting” or “owes an apology,” it’s the writer of that piece for misrepresenting the facts.
Experience Shows Candidate's Value
Selectman Dean Nicastro is standing for re-election. During his prior term on the select board, he helped Chatham through good times and difficult ones. He has a pragmatic approach to managing the issues faced by our town and has seen us through the pandemic. He has demonstrated fiscal prudence and sensitivity to the needs of seniors, and he recognizes the need for affordable housing in our community. He is a team player and is respected by the rest of the select board. His experience, professional background and his achievements make his voice one we should continue to hear.
COA Project Helps Out Developer
The property 1610 Main St. was purchased when it came on the market a few years ago by a development company. Their first action was to demolish the iconic building on the site, bypassing the historic business district commission's jurisdiction. Early in the morning, the building was torn down. Any reliable builder should have shored up the building. Then the developer found that the land sloped and would require tons of soil to level the property and there was a huge gully in the rear of the property that would require a large retaining wall to be built and special permits from conservation. One problem after another made this property untenable to build a high-end mansion or two. Along came the campaign for a new COA building. With town manager and the select board in support of 1610, it became the choice for a new COA building. Meanwhile, during the last few years, the developer has profited handsomely by leasing the property to the construction firms working on the West Chatham project. The finale will be a huge deduction on his income taxes for donating 1610 to Chatham, and Chatham will lose any additional taxes for the property.
West Chatham Realizing The Benefits
West Chatham is blossoming this spring. Main Street returned after a 60-year absence. I have watched kids on their bikes and families walking on West Chatham's new, wide sidewalks. Drivers no longer grit their teeth navigating West Chatham's busy intersections. Pedestrians crossing Main Street don't compete any longer with speeding traffic. Leading West Chatham business owners, relieved that construction is over, say they are looking forward to a more prosperous future. The feeling in West Chatham today is optimism.
New shops are opening. A planned modern senior center in West Chatham adjacent to the Captain Harding Park promises added vibrancy for the neighborhood and for seniors. It was only a few years ago that Cape Cod Hospital opened a modern outpatient facility in West Chatham across the street from the planned senior center.
Traditional village centers like South Chatham, Chatham's Old Village, downtown and West Chatham Village are places where people come together, grow and prosper. A modern senior center in West Chatham and the means to help fund and provide affordable housing in West Chatham for Chatham's working families are on the agenda for town meeting. I encourage your readers to join me supporting these initiatives that help preserve Chatham's small town character in the face of today's unprecedented development pressures.
Stop Senior Center Now
I am writing to express my vehement opposition to the proposed location of the council on aging in West Chatham. No cost updates have been released despite numerous requests since the price of materials has escalated. In anticipation of a “yes” vote at town meeting, the brand new sidewalks, along with granite curbing, were actually ripped up and gas and sewer lines installed. Was this on the taxpayer’s dime? Many have expressed a desire to save money and relocate the COA to the elementary school, where it will be a win-win for everyone. It certainly wouldn’t take $8-plus million to retrofit the building to make necessary accommodations. Combining seniors with young folks is a trend that is happening across the country. Ms. Hanlon was incorrect in her column last week saying CORI checks would be required for everyone. I was one of several folks that reported on the amount of cars of participants for their programs a while back. The attendance counts reported were grossly inflated. This building is excessive in size for that location and will be underutilized by seniors. We need to utilize what we have and stop this spending.
I don’t think folks are aware that almost two-thirds of the lot will be asphalt for parking because of major clear-cutting on both property lines to and within 75 feet of the pond. Wildlife habitat will be destroyed. I thought we were supposed to be environmentally sensitive in this day and age? To continue to bulldoze trees and ruin what’s left of the habitat in West Chatham for this project and for Middle Road is more than disturbing. We need to stop this now before we ruin more protected wetlands. We need to protect the environment and the aquifer.
Middle Road Wrong For Housing
I am writing to voice concern over the town’s proposal to designate the Middle Road forest land as affordable housing. While it is understood that affordable housing is a key issue in town and one that is in dire need of a solution, developing this land and clearing the woodlands is not it.
There are environmental concerns that prevent this from being a reasonable proposal. Every time a tree is removed we take its important carbon-capturing properties with it, and many trees will face removal with approval of the article. We will displace the wildlife population that inhabits this area, and we will disrupt their vital, well-used corridors. Goose Pond faces overburdening of its pristine waters from groundwater discharge and greater recreational overuse, leading to significant future water quality issues. The pond simply will not be able to handle the substantial increase in its use. The nearby wetlands are also in potential pollution danger from this project.
The remoteness of this project affects the feasibility of this development and housing recommendation. There are no nearby services or infrastructure to support this. Every family will need a vehicle for transportation, thus increasing the carbon load and pollution to our environment. Public transportation is non-existent here, and there is no nearby store to walk to.
These obstacles and negative factors make this parcel a poor choice for housing development. There will be more appropriate areas. I urge all residents to vote no on Article 19.
A Voice To Trust
Cory Metters is running for re-election to the Chatham Select Board. As a parent of school age children in town, he understands the value of a local community school and has strongly supported keeping the Chatham Elementary School. As a local businessman, Cory understands the importance of maintaining a vibrant tourist economy. As a neighbor and long-term Chatham resident, he understands the need to support efforts to keep the Coast Guard surf boats in Chatham. In general, Cory has had a financially balanced approach to preserving and protecting the traditions of Chatham as an active and diverse community, supporting efforts to create affordable housing for young families and at the same time advocating for our seniors with a new senior center.
In select board meetings, Cory has consistently demonstrated that he is a team player. While not always in agreement with all board members, he has always been respectful of others’ opinions and has listened carefully to all sides of an issue.
Finally, even in the past very difficult year with the COVID pandemic, Cory has actively solicited input from the community and made himself available to discuss citizen concerns. In these challenging times, we need a strong steady voice with a proven record we can trust.
Article Would Alter Housing Trust
Those supporting the need for Chatham land to build affordable housing have made their case. Now we voters should take a look at town meeting article 20 about how town funds for this housing would be administered.
Article 20, a petition article, would remove and replace the existing affordable housing trust fund. Among changes of the new trust are the following:
It removes requirements for perpetuity of affordability of ownership and rentals.
It lacks the current trust’s funding priorities, funding guidelines, conditions on recipients of loans and direct financial assistance, recipients selection criteria and (even) monitoring.
It replaces administration from a dominance of five members of the select board and two members of the public to four members of the public and two select board members.
The new trust’s affordability would change from up to 100 percent of area median income to 200 percent, and above that ceiling through adjustments for children. This could be amended further to no stated ceiling upon vote of the trustees. Note: Income does not include investments.
To make sure that our good will of purchasing land for affordable and attainable housing is respected it might be wise instead to amend the current trust fund to meet the new concept of attainable housing without losing protective provisions.
Taken With Tech Talk
I really enjoyed learning that the Cape Tech student newspaper, Tech Talk, was recognized by the New England Scholastic Press Association (NESPA) for its 2020-2021 editions by capturing the Highest Achievement award in its class, as well as being honored with an All-New England award. Several students received individual recognition with special achievement awards, showing that there is a lot of collaboration bringing Tech Talk to the student body and staff at the Cape Regional Technical High School.
While looking at some issues of Tech Talk, the February 2021 issue acknowledged that “A total of 17 juniors and seniors recently learned that their 100-word stories for the group Young Writers will be published in an anthology collecting works from students across the state.” There’s a lot of good writing going on at Cape Tech.
Finally, the online editions are extremely well done and easy to access and read. Needless to say, the content is very diverse and interesting, and it is much broader than just a high school focus. Kudos to the entire staff of students who put together a monthly newspaper worthy of top awards from NESPA. I am going to read more Tech Talk.
Honor History Of Schluter-Gould Clan
A hearty congratulations to the Schluter-Gould Clan for 72-plus years of outstanding service to the town of Chatham. Most recently, Peter, Don and Sally (and family) have done a remarkable job of helping folks keep their cars safely on the road. They have also carefully maintained and stewarded the family’s deep involvement in local charitable endeavors. It seems whatever we brought them (e.g., beat up old Jeeps/Landcruisers or vintage 1970s muscle cars) they could always fix them quickly and reasonably. The family business will be missed. As many folks will remember, their dad and mom (Jack and Harriett) were also very well known for both their business acumen and their quiet charitable acts of kindness (e.g., jobs, free heating fuel and repair work during tough economic times). They also gave countless local kids their first jobs at the Schluter’s pristine showpiece Mobil gas station formerly at the rotary on Main Street. As we can all surely agree, the place actually gleamed, had flowers at the gas pumps, and the rest rooms were like surgical suites at MGH. My brother Billy worked there for a few years and our son Dylan worked there the final summer before it was sold. He really grew up that summer. The family ran a tight ship, but everyone learned a lot of valuable life skills and also had a lot of fun as well. Many thanks, Schluter-Gould clan. Well done! We wish you well with Chapter 2, continued success and Godspeed.
Ned Chapman and Family