Letters To The Editor: Nov. 10, 2022

Letters to the editor.

Who Benefits From Solar Panels?


At the airport commission's meeting held in October, the commissioners discussed the pending project of installing solar panels at our airport. At face value, this sounds like a great idea. Solar energy is good for the environment. Although the initial upfront cost to buy and/or install the equipment might be high, that cost should be outweighed by the savings incurred over time by the money saved on the increasing cost of electricity. Here is where the “Yes, but...no” comes in!

Sometime in 2016, (then) chairman Peter Donovan, assisted by Tim Howard, airport manager, updated and wrote the current airport management service agreement (AMSA 2017). That 10-year contract (approved 5-2) includes the following statement: “All income derived from the operation of the airport, including commission approved concession agreements will accrue to the manager.” And, that contract also contains the following clause: “with an option to extend for an additional term of at least five years.”

To those Chatham taxpayers who are wondering, “Does the airport 'manager' (listed in the contract as Cape Cod Flying Circus, Inc., owned by Tim Howard) also collect the rental lease income generated by the restaurant located on the town-owned airport property?” Short answer: “Yes.”

I believe that the A/C will be bringing this proposal up for a vote of approval at its meeting next week. I would like to suggest that the commission allow this topic to be an agenda item at this month's meeting and include public comment during its discussion. Most importantly, I am requesting that the commission hold off on approving this project at least one month, until January.

And, as a Chatham taxpayer as well as a former airport commissioner, I am asking that the select board halt the approval of this plan and allow its approval only if Chatham's AMSA 2017 is amended and revised before solar panels are constructed at CQX. I believe that the contract's revision should state something to the effect of: “Any energy credit (electricity) 'income' generated by solar panels installed at CQX will be credited to the town of Chatham only and/or Chatham's Airport Revolving Fund,” not to the airport manager.

Susan N. Wilcox


Short-term Rentals Sometimes Necessary


For almost 40 years, my mother loved her small, historic home on the water in Chatham. When she reluctantly moved to Maplewood at Brewster, we were lucky enough to be able to rent the first floor of her home, which is beautifully situated but rather cramped and quirky, to summer visitors. The income is providing about half of her new expenses (less maintenance of the house), money we badly need, especially with today’s volatile stock market.

Our rental arrangements (with invaluable help from Pine Acres) has had the unexpected added value of attracting visitors who love the house as much as we do, and who return year after year (we are already booked for next summer).

In “Home Values Out of Control” (Oct. 20), Mr. Martin suggests that Chatham should “ban houses from being used as seasonal rentals.” I would respectfully like to suggest that not everyone who rents is an “investor or corporation” with “deeper pockets than your typical homeowner.” Chatham does indeed need to improve its housing stock, but this task should involve a real commitment from all residents.

Dr. E. Graham McKinley
Chatham and Princeton, N.J.


Donation Helps Plant Trees


The conservation committee of the Garden Club of Harwich wishes to sincerely thank the Harwich Fire Association and its president Bruce Young for the wonderful, generous donation to the 90-plus Native Trees for Harwich campaign. It seems that the dedicated firemen of our town recognize the need to protect our natural environment as well as our safety and property!

Community spirit is alive and well in Harwich. Thanks to the article in the Oct. 20 Chronicle, the fire association was inspired to demonstrate its appreciation for the Garden Club’s many contributions to Harwich by

recognizing our 90th birthday in this special and timely way. The gift came as a total surprise when announced at the club’s Nov. 1 meeting. With this funding and the contributions and others, we are well on our way to accomplishing our goal of planting at least 90 native trees on town and residential property by July 2023.

For further information about the 90 Trees initiative visit www.gardenclubofharwich.org.

Gerie Schumann, chairperson
The Garden Club of Harwich Conservation Committee


Rationale For Displaced Thresholds


The planning board is struggling with the conflict between plans for development of the West Chatham Neighborhood Center and restrictions proposed by the airport commission for a zero-development overlay district. Displacing the thresholds from the ends of the airport  runway are a possible solution and would be a major safety improvement for people living, working and driving in the runway protection zones. Pilots would be required to fly higher on the flight path and land further down the runway, at or beyond the near-end displaced threshold marking. Safety improvements with displaced thresholds are also realized on take-off, although this fact has been grossly misstated by some.

All pilots must start takeoff from one end of the physical runway and plan to be in the air before the displaced threshold marking at the other end of the runway. The FAA makes this very clear in advisory AC 150/5300-13B §3.5.3 that “The portion of the runway prior to the displaced threshold marking typically remains available for takeoffs,” i.e. only the physical length of the runway minus a single displacement is allowed for take-off, and not the whole physical runway. When taking off, the displaced section cannot be included. It must be regarded as an additional section of tarmac providing a safe stop in case of engine malfunction.

Piston-engine planes are expected to take-off in the allowed distance without stringent rules, but turboprops operate under 14CFR Part 135 and are required to calculate for every takeoff whether they can take off in the allowed distance, which cannot include the displaced length. The calculation is based on the type of plane, weight, air temperature, etc.

The FAA states that a displaced threshold is “a means to mitigate incompatible land uses” in the RPZs, which are displaced by the same displaced amount. It also moves the approach surfaces and lifts them above the protruding vegetation. Hence displacing the thresholds not only avoids the need for tree removal, but reduces the danger from under-shoot on landing and over-shoot on take-off in the current RPZs.

Many airports have adopted displaced thresholds, and a recent example is Newport State Airport, which has a just less than 3,000-foot runway with a displaced threshold of 500 feet to avoid a 60 foot tree. Chatham would require at least a 600-foot displacement to realize the safety and clearance advantages outlined above and also exclude turboprop aircraft from using the airport.

Michael Tompsett


Endorsements With A 'D'


Although this letter won't be published until after the election, perhaps in the future, The Chronicle could alter its endorsements editorial to read, "we will support Democrats across the ballot, no matter what."

I figure this pared down, blanket statement would not only be more appropriate, but would spare us the watered down rationalizations for picking unqualified candidates. Last week you admitted to how much of an unpalatable representative Bill Keating has been (with which I would agree) but refuse to send him packing and elect someone new to the job. The only Republican you do claim to favor is Governor Baker, who many would hardly call a Republican at all. Something tells me, though, if the race was between Maura Healey and Baker, your preference for Baker would suddenly be out the window and your opinion page would read, "Sorry, Charlie."

In 2014, The Chronicle opted not to endorse Cooper Kelsey during his first bid for Selectman because, as you opined, he needed more experience first. In this election, you are backing candidate for sheriff, Donna Buckley, who has no experience in law enforcement or corrections but only as counsel to the sheriff. Her opponent, Tim Whelan, has extensive experience in both areas as a former state trooper and deputy sheriff. To quote history teacher Mr. Hand in the movie Fast Times, "What are you people, on dope?"

Maybe a generic endorsement would be more fitting in the next election as the only common denominator for your acute political support seems to be the letter "D."

Jared Fulcher


Cultural History Lesson Important


Kudos to Alan Pollock for the article about the recent experience of sixth graders at the Lighthouse Charter School in learning about the Wampanoag perspective on Thanksgiving (“Lighthouse Students Learn About The First Cape Codders,” Nov. 3). And kudos also to teacher Susannah Remillard for her creativity in developing collaboration between the school, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and two important community organizations. As we approach Thanksgiving, it is critical that students learn about "the culture and history of the Cape's first inhabitants" as well as their world view that has the potential to shift students' perspectives about the beautiful spit of land on which they live. Thank you for this important contribution to our ability to welcome and appreciate the diversity that surrounds us.

Rosanne Shapiro


Column Brings Back Memories


I look forward to Bill Amaru’s stories of fishing. Brings back memories of working for Ed Johnson at Enterprise Machine and all the local fishermen I met while I was there.

Chip Hayden