Letters To The Editor: March 31, 2022
Recover Drainage Correction Costs
What had been a non-issue since the Riverbay neighborhood was built in the late '60s all changed this past month. Due to the disregard of the natural topography and respect for our environment, a local builder/land developer was allowed to take a piece of land in August 2020 and totally alter the landscape. It had been a natural swale landform which allowed rainwater from any storm event to flow into the low area of the property. In 2020
the developer disregarded a drainage easement and brought in countless trucks of fill in order to build a home. Now almost two years later and after several neighbors’ homes have seen drastic flooding, this Joshua Jethro drainage problem is being corrected at the cost of nearly $300,000, not to mention the enormous carbon footprint of the corrective actions currently being undertaken. We have had a steady stream of construction trucks for the past week bringing in more sand and gravel. The question for Chatham and other Massachusetts taxpayers is, do you know that your tax dollars are paying this bill through a state fund? The question I have is why isn't the builder/developer being held accountable? I commend the Chatham Highway Department for quickly working to help the neighbors whose homes have been severely impacted but strongly encourage the Chatham Select Board to recover these costs from the company who caused this travesty.
Preserve The Goose Pond Forest
The Friends of Trees works hard to plant and preserve trees in Chatham because we know the value of trees for shade, beauty, wildlife, carbon storage, and their important role in the water cycle. We plant trees in public spaces, and we advocate when shade trees are proposed for removal. Most recently, we interceded in the removal of 60 trees on Middle Road for the installation of new utility poles and are working with Eversource and the town to restore the area in some way with native plants conducive to the roadway to achieve some level of mitigation. But in reality, the restorative plantings will not fully replace the decades-old trees that had to be removed.
Existing trees are survivors for they endure attack from non-native invasive pests, damage from windstorms and drought, and poor pruning practices. We plant to ensure trees are part of our town’s green infrastructure. And as a voice for the trees, the Friends of Trees supports the article to preserve all of the Goose Pond forest as proposed by the open space committee and we hope you will, too.
Chatham Friends of Trees, Inc.
Trust In Government Must Be Earned
I suppose we should be grateful that the select board has finally gotten around to doing something about the surviving Eldredge Garage building. The 2017 special town meeting voted for funds that would save the gas station as an historic structure important to Chatham’s past. Since then, the tiny building has sat in a parking lot, largely ignored. True, some brave soul stood up at the meeting and shamed the town into “painting the thing.” For the last couple of years we have been treated to a boarded up, anonymous white structure amidst assorted cars and puddles of water. Only this month did the public learn that a “replica” now will be needed because the original was “deemed to be unfeasible to restore for public use.” No kidding! Now, with a decree that the gas station is beyond repair, the town can justify almost any decisions about its future without bothersome complaints. Ever heard of “demolition by neglect?”
One would hope that town meeting decisions would be acted on – well, at least reasonably soon. Right now, with the building all but condemned, will anything be done to save the gas station even with or without another town meeting vote? The only solution we have in front of us after five years (and a $2,500,000 budget) is to build a parking lot and a “replica” with a few old pictures inside a million dollar latrine – not exactly a bang for our buck or a true remembrance of things past.
We citizens must insist that town meeting votes and promises once made (consider also the gift of property off Old Harbor Road which some of the selectmen are trying to change or ignore) must be kept. We must have trust in our government to act openly in our interest, and to honor our choices. But that trust must be earned.
Airport Petition Explained
Thank you for allowing me to correct the statement on page 22 of the March 24 edition, “Geagan said the petition to shorten the runway for landing is a compromise...”
Thinking that our warrant article is about physically shorting the runway at our airport is not accurate. The principal rational is as follows:
Thinking that displacing the thresholds shortens the runway and will make it less safe is not the reality of our citizen petition before town meeting.
This is more accurate: on take off, the aircraft will start from the physical end of our present 3,001-foot runway. This will allow a greater distance, 800 feet, for stopping safely due to an engine failure causing the plane take off to be aborted. All planes that are allowed to take off would have this area of tarmac for any emergency use. Therefore, this is much safer for those living and working in the present runway protection zones zones (RPZ) located off the airport property.
If an aircraft is only marginally safe due to its larger size and weight for the length of the present runway, pilots and people on the ground should not continue the use of the airport which was built for small and lighter aircraft. The displacement thresholds should be recognized by the FAA, so the pilots of these aircraft would, under current FAA rules, be excluded from landing in Chatham. Most pilots do not want to risk themselves or their passengers under these perimeters and margins for safe takeoffs.
When landing, the pilot is guided down to the correct threshold, touchdown point on the runway by visual approach lighting. These are safety points telling the pilot whether they are too high or too low on the glide path to land safely.
Visual landings are the only landings that can be allowed at the Chatham airport today. However who knows what our airport will morph into tomorrow?
On landing any pilot undershooting the runway would land safely on the current tarmac surface area. If the pilot were to land and overshoot the end of the runway, the pilot and plane would be allowed to decelerate in the runway safety zone at the physical end of the runway on airport property under the control of the airport committee’s newly displaced RPZ.
Health Club Gains Board's Attention
On Friday, March 18, Chatham resident Gail Tilton delivered a petition with more than 200 voter signatures urging the town of Chatham to purchase the Chatham Health and Swim Club. During their Tuesday, March 22 meeting, the select board heard Gail’s presentation regarding the petition and reasons why the town should consider purchasing the property and building which are currently for sale. The board members’ comments about the petition and thoughts about the Chatham Health and Swim Club were quite positive. Following discussion and some reticence, the board voted against the petition with three nay votes, one aye and one abstention because good and careful governance required a feasibility study to be completed prior to making a decision about the purchase. The board then voted unanimously to fund such a feasibility study with a fiscal note of up to $50,000. The town will be voting on this matter at the next town meeting which will begin on May 14.
Barbara Anne Holton
Donations Made Helped Library Fundraiser
The South Chatham Public Library wants to thank all those who gave so generously to the success of our Love Your Library fund raising drive. Your support of our library is greatly appreciated. Stop in and say "hello." We pride ourselves in having many new edition books, best sellers, and old favorites. Our hours are Tuesday and Friday 1 to 4 p.m. We hope you'll join us as our library celebrates 150 years in 2024.