Letters To The Editor: June 10, 2021

Letters to the editor.

Airport, Aquifer Link Needs Investigation

Editor:

In the June 3 edition of The Chronicle, it was reported that a major source of Chatham’s drinking water, well 5, has been disconnected.  That should be of concern to all Chatham residents. The reason for such drastic action is
that higher than acceptable levels of per- and poly-fluoridated alkyl substances (PFAS) were detected in that well.  PFAS are man-made chemicals that have many applications including that of being a small, but essential, component of some aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) which are in use at airports where large quantities of flammable fuels are present.  There are other products for this use that do not pose the same health risk.

In 2019, amid growing concerns about high levels of PFAS contamination of public drinking water beneath airports, the FAA issued an alert that offered airports alternatives to the biannual AFFF testing that had been previously required. What foaming agent is Chatham Airport currently equipped with and what testing protocols are being used? When was the most recent testing done and what were the results?

As reported in The Chronicle and as a result of well 5 being closed, “officials are now scrambling to bring other wells online”.  One such well is well 4, the Indian Hill well, which as been closed since the 1990s when unacceptable levels of PCEs, a probable carcinogen and toxic pollutant, were detected. Historically, PCEs had wide use at airports as degreasers of metal machine parts. Well 4 is located approximately 1,200 feet from the airport’s runway centerline. Chatham Airport is wholly contained within the well’s zone of contribution and well recharging area.

The current draft of the new airport master plan does not sufficiently and satisfactorily address the impact of the airport’s presence on the health and safety of the town’s water supply. Going forward, the anticipated additional
hangars, the increased numbers of flights and the expected 10,000 gallons more of fuel storage capacity at the airport have the potential for further contributing to the toxic contamination of the town’s water supply.

It is incumbent on the select board and the airport commission to take a long, hard look at those portions of the master plan that impact the health of the aquifer and, if necessary, to take the preventive and corrective actions
needed to protect Chatham’s vulnerable water supply before it is too late. Actions have consequences. So do inactions.

Steve Hilzenrath
Sue Hilzenrath
Chatham

 

Facts About Housing Trust

Editor:

In response to last week’s opinion piece about the housing trust Article 20, here are some actual facts.

This is how you “amend the trust.” This article does not “remove deed restrictions.” Affordable housing is regulated by the state. The CPA funding is also regulated by the state. The state limits what funds can be used for based on the AMI (area median income). These two articles, 20 and 22, are requesting that the state allow our local Trust and CPC to have the discretion to determine what limits (up to 200 percent AMI) a given housing project should serve.

Many of our family members, friends, neighbors, employees, and seniors exceed the affordable limits and have absolutely no housing options, no place to rent and no place they can afford to buy.

Karolyn McClelland, chair
Chatham Community Housing Partnership

 

Consider Alternative Parade Date

Editor:

The following letter was sent to the Chatham Select Board:

Thanks for deciding to go ahead with the July Fourth parade. Yay — that’s wonderful news!

Like so many Chathamites, “the parade” is one of the highlights of the year for our family. I’ve been to nearly everyone since 1957 when I dressed up as a chef, flipping cardboard steaks walking behind a red and white convertible towing a wooden crate painted to look like a grill announcing a new restaurant opened by one of my father’s best friends, Cloyd Pate!

But I have a question: Why not have the parade on July 5?

1. It’s actually the Federal holiday.

2. Gives people the weekend to dress up and build their floats.

3. Allows the many visitors who arrive for the week, but spend most of their Saturday driving down, to enjoy the event.

4. And on a personal note, the tide is better, allowing us South Chathamites, bound by the tide, to come over by boat, keeping a few more cars from clogging Route 28.

Any chance?

Thanks for considering,

Jack Gillis
South Chatham

 

Balancing Environment And Housing

Editor:

While I know that, for some mysterious reason, this is not a popular strategy as of late, I have to believe we can find a way. I have always considered myself an advocate for the environment. I live on a piece of land that is less than a fifth of an acre. On this piece of land is a virtual highway of creatures great and small. I have no formal basement, yet I do not use any poison or other brutal means to dispose of critters that try desperately to take up residence. I understand the importance and the fragility of this gentle sandbar we live on. I appreciate those trying to protect it.

I also work 40-plus hours a week listening to stories that are very difficult to hear. It is a never-ending stream of people, all ages, varying income brackets. All are just seeking shelter. Many are families who work in town, whose children attend our schools. Many are elderly widows and widowers who have raised their children here and just want to spend their sunset years in the town they have called home for generations. Our community is vastly diverse which makes it rich in character and keeps us grounded within our roots. The problem is that I can only help a small portion of these people. We just don’t have the resources.

I know in my heart we can strike a balance. To say it has to be the environment or housing is just disingenuous. Of course we can do both, we have to try. There are ways to do it thoughtfully and carefully; to take into consideration everyone’s concerns. My worry is that people believe that options will arise over time. What if they don’t? I believe I have a moral obligation to the environment, my neighbors, my entire community to try to keep it all healthy, thriving and safe.

Tracy Cannon, executive director
Chatham Housing Authority

Airport, Aquifer Link Needs Investigation Editor: In the June 3 edition of 
The Chronicle, it was reported that a major source of Chatham’s drinking water, 
well 5, has been disconnected.  That should be of concern to all Chatham residents. 
The reason for such drastic action is that higher than acceptable levels of 
per- and poly-fluoridated alkyl substances (PFAS) were detected in that well.  
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have many applications including that of being 
a small, but essential, component of some aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) 
which are in use at airports where large quantities of flammable fuels are 
present.  There are other products for this use that do not pose the same health 
risk. In 2019, amid growing concerns about high levels of PFAS contamination 
of public drinking water beneath airports, the FAA issued an alert that offered 
airports alternatives to the biannual AFFF testing that had been previously 
required. What foaming agent is Chatham Airport currently equipped with and 
what testing protocols are being used? When was the most recent testing done 
and what were the results? As reported in The Chronicle and as a result of 
well 5 being closed, “officials are now scrambling to bring other wells online”.  
One such well is well 4, the Indian Hill well, which as been closed since the 
1990s when unacceptable levels of PCEs, a probable carcinogen and toxic pollutant, 
were detected. Historically, PCEs had wide use at airports as degreasers of 
metal machine parts. Well 4 is located approximately 1,200 feet from the airport’s 
runway centerline. Chatham Airport is wholly contained within the well’s zone 
of contribution and well recharging area. The current draft of the new airport 
master plan does not sufficiently and satisfactorily address the impact of 
the airport’s presence on the health and safety of the town’s water supply. 
Going forward, the anticipated additional hangars, the increased numbers of 
flights and the expected 10,000 gallons more of fuel storage capacity at the 
airport have the potential for further contributing to the toxic contamination 
of the town’s water supply. It is incumbent on the select board and the airport 
commission to take a long, hard look at those portions of the master plan that 
impact the health of the aquifer and, if necessary, to take the preventive 
and corrective actions needed to protect Chatham’s vulnerable water supply 
before it is too late. Actions have consequences. So do inactions. Steve Hilzenrath 
Sue Hilzenrath Chatham Facts About Housing Trust Editor: In response to last 
week’s opinion piece about the housing trust Article 20, here are some actual 
facts. This is how you “amend the trust.” This article does not “remove deed 
restrictions.” Affordable housing is regulated by the state. The CPA funding 
is also regulated by the state. The state limits what funds can be used for 
based on the AMI (area median income). These two articles, 20 and 22, are requesting 
that the state allow our local Trust and CPC to have the discretion to determine 
what limits (up to 200 percent AMI) a given housing project should serve. Many 
of our family members, friends, neighbors, employees, and seniors exceed the 
affordable limits and have absolutely no housing options, no place to rent 
and no place they can afford to buy. Karolyn McClelland, chair Chatham Community 
Housing Partnership Consider Alternative Parade Date Editor: The following 
letter was sent to the Chatham Select Board: Thanks for deciding to go ahead 
with the July Fourth parade. Yay — that’s wonderful news! Like so many Chathamites, 
“the parade” is one of the highlights of the year for our family. I’ve been 
to nearly everyone since 1957 when I dressed up as a chef, flipping cardboard 
steaks walking behind a red and white convertible towing a wooden crate painted 
to look like a grill announcing a new restaurant opened by one of my father’s 
best friends, Cloyd Pate! But I have a question: Why not have the parade on 
July 5? 1. It’s actually the Federal holiday. 2. Gives people the weekend to 
dress up and build their floats. 3. Allows the many visitors who arrive for 
the week, but spend most of their Saturday driving down, to enjoy the event. 
4. And on a personal note, the tide is better, allowing us South Chathamites, 
bound by the tide, to come over by boat, keeping a few more cars from clogging 
Route 28. Any chance? Thanks for considering, Jack Gillis South Chatham Balancing 
Environment And Housing Editor: While I know that, for some mysterious reason, 
this is not a popular strategy as of late, I have to believe we can find a 
way. I have always considered myself an advocate for the environment. I live 
on a piece of land that is less than a fifth of an acre. On this piece of land 
is a virtual highway of creatures great and small. I have no formal basement, 
yet I do not use any poison or other brutal means to dispose of critters that 
try desperately to take up residence. I understand the importance and the fragility 
of this gentle sandbar we live on. I appreciate those trying to protect it. 
I also work 40-plus hours a week listening to stories that are very difficult 
to hear. It is a never-ending stream of people, all ages, varying income brackets. 
All are just seeking shelter. Many are families who work in town, whose children 
attend our schools. Many are elderly widows and widowers who have raised their 
children here and just want to spend their sunset years in the town they have 
called home for generations. Our community is vastly diverse which makes it 
rich in character and keeps us grounded within our roots. The problem is that 
I can only help a small portion of these people. We just don’t have the resources. 
I know in my heart we can strike a balance. To say it has to be the environment 
or housing is just disingenuous. Of course we can do both, we have to try. 
There are ways to do it thoughtfully and carefully; to take into consideration 
everyone’s concerns. My worry is that people believe that options will arise 
over time. What if they don’t? I believe I have a moral obligation to the environment, 
my neighbors, my entire community to try to keep it all healthy, thriving and 
safe. Tracy Cannon, executive director Chatham Housing Authority