Letters To The Editor: Aug. 25, 2022

Letters to the editor.

Appreciates Theater, Film Coverage


The Aug. 11 edition of The Chronicle had really terrific coverage of the arts with more movie and theater reviews than I can remember in one edition. This was such a joy to see so much coverage of the arts, and this is the month when we have so much available.

First, there was the review of a 2014 move, “Detours,” by James Cole, who apparently is a friend of the film makers, and that was his primary reason for the review, despite his reluctance. Because of the review, I did seek out and find “Detours,” and while a lot of the film was “on the road,” it falls way below the level of any other respectable road movie. I found it to be a bore, with “why am I watching this” crossing my mind many times.

Then there was the review of “School of Rock,” which is now playing at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre, and this prompted me to get on line and order a ticket. Looking at different dates, this seems to be going strong with ticket sales, and my ticket is for Saturday, Aug. 27.

Then came the review of “An American in Paris” at The Cape Playhouse, which I had already seen. It’s tough to go wrong with the Gershwin music, and the review was spot on.

While not a review, the issue gave good photo coverage to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Kate Gould Park as well as the Harwich Town Band striking up the sounds of summer. It was also nice to see the photo and recognition of the benefit performances that Rose Clancy and the Clancy Band are doing. Rose seems to be doing a number of these and getting the coverage and recognition she deserves  I have seen her and the band a couple of times at the Chatham Drama Guild.

While not a film or play, coverage of a performance by the very professional chamber concerts presented by the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival during August is a serious oversight by The Cape Cod Chronicle. For me, these are “must see” concerts presented between Chatham and Wellfleet, and I have seen the two in Chatham earlier this month, and I shall be at the one in Dennis on Aug. 17.

Steve Clouther


Peake Leads On Constituent Services


I strongly support State Representative Sarah K. Peake's re-election for many reasons – she is a leader on the environment, climate change, women's reproductive rights, transportation, the blue economy and housing to name a few important issues. But there is another very important reason I will be voting for Sarah: her dedication to constituent services.

You might have a problem with a state government agency or program, such as having difficulty receiving unemployment benefits, navigating Mass Health for healthcare coverage, or with any healthcare business like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, etc., or issues with the RMV. You might have issues with your utility (Eversource, National Grid). You might not understand how important it is to have someone on Beacon Hill who is willing to help you get access to government agencies and programs to solve your problems, someone who is your voice in state government. Sometimes we forget that a great amount of our state representative's time is spent helping people with their individual problems. It is hard work that is very rewarding.

From the first day she took office, Sarah has committed herself and her office to take care of her constituents who trusted her to represent them. How do I know this? Well, I was Sarah's chief of staff since 2007 before retiring last year. I am highlighting an important aspect of legislative work that doesn't get a great deal of attention but is a valuable service to those who need it.

Sarah is a leader who truly understands how important it is to serve the public.

Dorothy M. (Dottie) Smith


Mail Saver Should Be Recognized



Let’s all tip our hat to Tammy Eldridge, the chief operator of the Chatham Laundromat.

This conscientious worker was the one who spotted the “missing mail” from the Chatham Post Office a few weeks ago. By noticing that there was “dumped mail” in her nearby dumpster which she diligently returned to the post office, she:

1. Saved the post office considerable embarrassment;
2. The USPO was able to get the mail to rightful recipients; and
3. Prevented many possible delays and extra work.

Seems to us she should be rewarded by the USPO and/or the Chatham Chamber of Commerce.

Terry and Ed McLoughlin
Mt. Kisco, N.Y.


Residential Tax Exemption Not Panacea


Like most advocates for the residential tax exemption, your editorial (“Residential Tax Exemption Deserves Attention,” Aug. 18) not only misses the mark, but it also fails to point out some of the significant disadvantages of the exemption. But first, the exemption is not a panacea for retaining Chatham’s workforce. The only way that will be accomplished is for town officials to begin building, I repeat, building, affordable housing the way other Cape towns have been and are still building affordable housing.

As for the merits of the exemption, without the property taxes and other spending of summer residents, many local businesses would not survive. Year-round residents would not enjoy the year-round benefits of the infrastructure your editorial admits Chatham needs during the season that is paid for in large part by summer residents. Indeed, without summer residents, Chatham itself would not likely survive economically.

The estimated 63 percent of property taxes paid by summer residents make it possible for Chatham (and Harwich) to build and operate good public schools for children of year-round residents, maintain their roads, sidewalks, buildings, equipment for year-round use, pay town employees and keep many other Cape residents employed year-round.

A year ago, I provided the editor with a lengthy analysis of why the residential tax exemption is not in the best interests of Chatham, both economically and culturally. Among many other reasons, research showed that the few towns that have adopted the exemption, like Nantucket, Provincetown, Truro and Wellfleet, are influenced by the fact that more of their homes are owned by summer residents and landlords.

The exemption also risks damaging the cohesiveness between summer and year-round residents, all of whom seek the best for Chatham. Those extra tax dollars the exemption will extract from summer residents might well be spent for local goods and services. Many residents are under the mistaken notion that adopting the residential tax exemption will raise additional taxes and lower the tax rate. It will not. The exemption is “revenue neutral” so the amount of property taxes raised will not change, but the tax rate will increase.

And as for affordable housing, I encourage town officials to stop talking and start building.

George Myers
Chatham and Venice, Fla.


Storytime Draws Library Patrons


The South Chatham Public Library concluded its Seaside Storytime series on Friday, Aug. 19 with fun-filled activities and readings related to whales and tales of those who live in the ocean.

Funded through a grant from the Chatham Women's Club, the four part series was designed to provide children ages 3 to 6 with a free drop-in activity of stories and crafts as well as to introduce the children to all that the little library in South Chatham offers. Volunteer Sherry Hesch and board members Pat McClure and Susan Lellis coordinated the program. Special thanks goes to Tom Jahnke, band leader of both the Harwich and Chatham town bands, who kicked off the series by reading his book “The Little Band” and teaching the children “The Hokey Pokey.”

The success of the series was evident in several ways. New members were added to the library's patron list, more books were taken out by children than in summers past, and a young participant of Friday's last session was overheard saying to his mom, "can we go into the library now?"

Barbara Boro
South Chatham


Education On Resisting Drought


I’m not sure if others have suggested this but with the terrible Cape Cod water shortages (that I don’t think will improve any time soon) we suggest that our towns sponsor educational seminars and online help for residents to install more drought resistant plants and hardscape on their lawns. Net net, less grass.

It should cost effective to the towns to educate us on how to replace our lush green lawns with attractive hardscape, drought resistant plants, and rain barrels to catch rain and more ideas for water conservation techniques we don’t know about.

Peggy and Bob Crespo
West Chatham


How Our Aquifer Works


The editorial “A Shared Resource” and a letter to the editor are based on a faulty assumption of how the Cape aquifer works. It is not a pond of water from which we all selfishly sip. It is more analogous to a stream of water flowing from the high point of the freshwater “lens” near the center of the Cape, in all directions towards the sea.  

The Chatham town wells are located near the high point of the freshwater lens, i.e. upstream of nearly all private wells. When a private well owner draws water downstream, there is no impact on the availability of water upstream for the town. 

The town of Chatham has explained the reasons for mandatory restrictions on the use of town water for landscape watering: 1) to keep the town water tanks full for fire protection (because some of the town’s wells are temporarily out of service); 2) to reduce wear and tear on the town’s over-taxed pumps; and 3) to avoid over drawing from the recharge zone in the vicinity of the over-worked town wells. 

When someone can explain to me how using my private well, two miles downstream, is impacting these three issues with the town system, I will be happy to follow any voluntary restrictions requested for my well. 

Jay Hunt
North Chatham


Where's Your Representative?


Well, here we are with an overflowing amount of taxpayer money that we could distribute to those who could use some tax relief in these difficult times. Yes, we generally agree that we should.

Can we pass a sports betting bill? Sure. Can we establish the rules for marijuana merchants? Sure. Can we pass legislation granting $250 or $500 checks to young working families to help buy gas and groceries? Sorry, no! Can we help them by offering grants to overwhelmed child care providers? Sorry, no! Can we assist our low-income seniors in paying their ever-increasing real estate taxes? Sorry, no! Can we help our middle-income taxpayers whose assets have increased by virtue of their hard work and rising real estate values pass their assets on to the next generation by increasing the estate tax threshold as in all other states but Oregon? Sorry, no! Can we use some of this excess to promote better health care, climate change and workforce housing? Sorry, no!

Sorry, we need to go now as our two-year full-time jobs as legislators have ended for this year. Yes, we know it's only July 31, but we have vacation plans. Sorry we waited until the last day of the session, but we did work until five the next morning. Could we come back in special session to pass these needs? Well, sure, but we need the next five months to rest from our labors and campaign so we can represent you next year. Maybe we'll be a bit more organized and get some things done earlier in the session, but, well...

Sincerely, your hard-working Massachusetts representatives.

Ralph Smith
Harwich Port