Letters to the Editor, Nov. 18

Letters to the editor.

Resist Airport Changes

Editor:

I hope that Chatham residents as well as select board and charter review committee members take the time to view the airport commission meeting of Nov. 10. Viewers would gain insight into how the commission treats any citizen who questions their authority or disagrees with them.

The commission’s refusal to consider public concerns is why the proposed charter amendment to have the select board take control of the commission is critical to the safety and quality of life for all Chatham residents. Currently the commission’s plans and radically transformed mission statement focus on commercial aviation interests and not on the interests of Chatham citizens, who “own” the town airport. Chair Huntley Harrison repeatedly says there are just a handful of opponents and they want to close the airport, possibly for other uses. That is simply not true for the majority of the many opponents.

Let our town administrators know your thoughts and feelings about the direction the commission is taking. Let’s retain the character of a small, local airport and resist stretching safety regulations to allow the airport to become a regional hub for frequent commercial flights or larger aircraft flying at all hours and in all conditions. 

Carol Bliss 

West Chatham  

 

What Airport Opponents Want

Editor:

Members of the Chatham Airport Commission and some local pilots are again accusing the commission’s many critics of trying to close the airport, despite an absence of any corroborating evidence. I am one of those critics. What is it I really seek?

For the town and airport commission to comply with federal and state laws and regulations and the town charter. To follow not only these rules but the spirit in which they were enacted. To end the conflicts of interest among commission members and in the airport management services agreement. To respect the concerns of airport neighbors. To put an end to the contempt and hostility by the commission, manager, and pilot community toward neighboring residential communities and understand that people purchased homes in lands zoned for residential use in good faith with the expectations that they are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their properties. An understanding and acknowledgment that the town failed in its obligations to the FAA to limit the use of lands around the airport to uses compatible with normal airport operations. That homeowners must not now be punished because town officials failed to honor their commitments to the FAA and the people of Chatham they have sworn to serve.

David Bixby

West Chatham

A Thought Experiment

Editor:

Much has been said about Chatham’s need for attainable and affordable housing, and that available land is extremely limited. The ideal locations are within walking distance of village centers on already disturbed lands. The town has been consistent in its desire to leave open space, especially natural and wild areas, untouched. It seems an unsolvable problem unless we find town-owned land that meets those criteria and that is large enough to make a significant dent in Chatham’s housing deficit.

So, a Thought Experiment. Imagine we wake up one morning and the airport is gone. Now the town has an opportunity to repurpose 105 acres. What could we do with such a large piece of property that would benefit the greatest number of our citizens’ needs? How about building a community of mixed housing benefiting working families and senior citizens? The area will have sewer, the police are right across the street, and the bike path abuts the street. Further, it’s a relatively short drive or walk to the West Chatham center. The existing sidewalk could easily be extended from Job Lot. What about a senior center? Plenty of space for parking and recreation. And the south end would remain in its natural state and offer hiking trails and other amenities, while improving the buffer to the vernal pool. Plenty of room to store fishing gear. A byproduct of such a fantasy might be the opportunity to build additional housing on acreage outside the current footprint that is now unsuitable for housing due to the flight path. Not to mention alleviating the stresses described by the folks living in proximity to the airport. Might this solve a few of the challenges facing the town?

I don’t intend by this musing to take a position regarding an airport. As I said: just a Thought Experiment.

DeeDee Holt

Chatham

 

Mixed Bag Of News

Editor:

The Chronicle reported some wondrous news for Harwich and some not-so-wonderful.

Hooray HCT. Harwich Conservation Trust secured funding for Jenkins Bog/Herring River headwaters. Through the generosity of individuals and groups, with major contributions from families like Barbara and Jake Brown, to small yet significant numbers from the rest of us. We citizens took action without the help of our town’s conservation commission. HCT saw what had to be done before year’s end, and Mike did it, with our help.

However, I’m perplexed about the community preservation committee’s pledge to support affordable housing (at the last full town meeting in the field behind Monomoy High, the CPC prioritized $1 million for a new basement for storage at Brooks Academy Museum). Hmmmm.

Also, I skipped the recent special town meeting in the community center gym, a potential COVID spreader. The selectmen have not mandated proof of vaccination. I dropped out of a Brooks Free Library class because vaccination status cannot be asked, nor required, and hesitate to return to the community center workout room, where I viewed unmasked individuals, and am not permitted to inquire about vaccination status. 

Are we a town of anti-vaxxers, or enablers? What happened to “good ol’ Yankee wisdom?”

Sebastian Mudry

West Harwich