Letters to the Editor, Dec. 8

Letters to the editor.

Other Expenses Are Priority


As far as I can tell, nobody except one person approves of renaming the old Harwich Middle School, previously the Harwich Cultural Center, to 204 Sisson St.

Now we are told by The Chronicle that a $1.9 million upgrade proposed for 204 Sisson is necessary.  Increased revenues from hopefully $214,00 programming fees are expected to cover the taxpayer's expenses. I am lousy at math, but my iPhone suggests that dividing $2 million by $214,000 seems like it would take over nine years to recover this original outlay of funds.  

Let's go on to the overwhelming costs to our taxpayers for the upcoming sewerage costs, not even mentioning what the state of Massachusetts will require all of us to pay to upgrade our septic systems in the next five years, regardless if we connect to the sewer.

Any expenses that we, as taxpayers have to pay, is far more important than upgrading 204 Sisson St.

Anne Stewart

Pleasant Lake


Answers Airport Supporter


The author of a letter in last week’s paper falsely accused a group of local residents of making misleading claims about airport safety in Chatham. He did this by distorting FAA standards and then proceeded to make misleading claims himself.

He first stated that displacing the runway thresholds will not change the runway protection zones (RPZs). This is incorrect, since the FAA Advisory (150/5300-13B) explicitly shows that RPZs move with the thresholds. Therefore, displacing the thresholds enhances safety for residents by effectively moving them out of these zones. It is the FAA — not property owners, as he alleges — which categorizes RPZs as danger zones and repeatedly emphasizes in multiple FAA advisories that they should not be populated.

With a displaced threshold, the whole runway is available for take-off, although the calculated take-off distance that is allowed is shortened. This would require pilots of certain planes to use nearby Hyannis Airport, and clearly increases safety for local residents while not compromising the safety of the remaining pilots landing in Chatham.

A straight-in approach is clearly the best approach at a towered airport, but Chatham does not have a tower to prevent dangerous conflicts, which have been witnessed.

The annual number of large turboprop operations now exceeds 500, which requires that different FAA airport design standards be met for these planes with a wingspan of more than 49 feet. Since these standards are not being met, safety for residents is compromised.

Turboprops may sound quieter at Ridgevale Beach, which is 1.5 miles from the airport, particularly on taking-off, because turboprops gain altitude more rapidly than piston-engined planes. However, for people living much nearer the airport, they are extremely noisy on both landing and takeoff with measured noise levels of 86-90dBa and a roaring reverse thrust.

With respect to commercial aircraft, Chatham Airport has a weight limit of 12,500 lbs., not 41,000 lbs. The airport is included, contrary to FAA regulations, in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, which allows 2,500 passenger boardings annually.

The reference to “low visibility” landings highlights a major issue. The airport commission has been disingenuously advocating for instrument landings in poor visibility. However, for any approach with less than visual flight rule conditions, FAA standards expand the RPZs six fold, which would put many more people at high risk and devalue all of the properties in central West Chatham.

James Fulton



A Different Approach To Housing


In reference to the letter from Gail and David Oppenheim in the paper this past week (“Time To House A Family,” Dec. 5), I have to respectfully disagree with their viewpoint. Unfortunately, the town has allowed 127 Old Harbor Rd. to deteriorate for years. There is no excuse for this, other than extremely poor town management. 

Instead of trying to blame the select board for their “no” votes, perhaps it would be wise to look at a different approach for this property in terms of affordable housing. Chatham officials tend to “talk a big talk” in reference to affordable housing but there is very little action. Many folks continue to argue about the intent of Mrs. Ellis’ will. Who wouldn’t want to live in this beautiful area close to town? I think the property should be sold for its maximum value and that money should be used to build several houses with the land the town has acquired in the past year. 

We now have the land by the church in South Chatham, the Buckley property, and hopefully the land on Stepping Stones Road. We also have hired an affordable housing coordinator. Yet, to date, what has been accomplished? This past Friday, in the town manager’s weekly newsletter, it was reported there will be a meeting on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. for the first community engagement meeting to discuss the types and styles of housing to use on the properties the town has acquired. Could they plan this meeting at a worse time when folks are getting ready for Christmas? There will be consultants there to discuss this and facilitate the meeting. I am a huge fan of Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why we hear nothing from them or the town in terms of getting them involved. The Habitat homes that have been built in Chatham have been a huge success. People genuinely interested in housing pour their own sweat equity into these homes instead of merely being handed something. Why not work with Habitat instead of just slapping up houses just to meet the state’s quota for affordable housing? When a town accepts money from the state they have to open the apartments up to anyone that qualifies no matter what part of the state they are from. Any chance there is to provide housing for folks with ties to Chatham absolutely should be explored rather than have overpaid consultants and the State involved.

Judy Patterson

West Chatham


More Dialog Needed On Airport


Last week's letter "Beware CQX Propaganda" makes a solid point, that pilot safety is an important factor in airport planning. But the author misses another important point: steadily increasing commercial airline traffic in season and an expanded airport footprint are legitimate concerns for a substantial number of airport neighbors and all those affected by expanded airport operations.

Unfortunately, the letter's purpose was not to engage in meaningful dialogue, but to marginalize legitimate airport critics. At some point, we will need to stop talking at each other and start talking to each other about reasonable solutions that address everyone's concerns.

What is missing today is a genuine effort to turn differences into dialog.

Rick Leavitt, chairman

West Chatham Village and Business Association

Editor's note: There are no plans to expand the footprint of Chatham Airport.


Does California Hold The Key?


Regarding “In Fight Against Climate Change, Salt Marshes Are First Battle Ground” (Nov. 24), Mr. Wirtshafter states that “People can say what they want, but we really need to be doing what the science says, here.” His challenge is in using “science” as the go-to defense for any climate initiative. Unfortunately, climate extremists have spoiled and tainted otherwise well-intended arguments for climate initiatives. It seems that for every study that indicates dire climate consequences, there is another article that points out the flawed criteria and obvious biased and manipulated interpretation of such studies. (The examples are endless). As with most emotionally charged social issues, the extremists do a disservice to their cause.

As for new building codes, look no further than Californian for an example of how the moratorium on gas for heat and cooking has severely crippled new housing, for all social classes, while also causing a crippling increasing for the cost of energy, to everyone’s detriment. Perhaps Chatham should look no further than California as an example of how not to do things.  

Gary Nudd

South Chatham


Welcomes Hunting Dialog


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a “right to hunt” state. The hunting and fishing laws of the Commonwealth are well regulated and enforced by and through the state. There is no need to add a town employee to replicate that which is being done by the state, especially since the local police have the authority to enforce the fish and game laws. The open waters, marshes, and woods — the few of them left in sufficient acreage to allow lawful hunting — are “common lands” that have been and should be open to the lawful pursuit of this right.

I appreciate the chance for public dialogue on the subject of hunting and I don’t disagree entirely with your editorial. In fact, I heartily endorse one of your proposals: local authorities and publications such as yours could do a better job of alerting our citizens who have little or no experience with hunting. The general public should be aware of when those limited seasons occur; which lands in Chatham fit the state criteria that permit hunting; which of those locations are likely to be shared with hunters during the open season; and the need to wear bright colors when walking in the woods.


Seth Taylor



Fertilizer And Salt Marshes


Writing for the Harwich Climate Action Network (HCAN), I wish to speak to crucial issues raised in recent Chronicle articles. We applaud the board of health’s decision to urge the selectmen to petition the state in order that Harwich can develop our own regulations for fertilizer use. Even if other sources of water degradation such as septic systems are major contributors, reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that leaches into our groundwater is equally important.

Another Chronicle article outlines recommendations by the Chatham Energy And Climate Action Committee for prioritizing plans to preserve salt marshes, among other goals. Since salt marshes absorb toxins in wastewater, they are important buffers that reduce accumulation of fertilizers and other contaminants in the sea. And because many marshes, like the one at Red River Beach, span town lines, there should be extensive cooperation between towns on mitigating the urgent threats posed by climate change. We look forward to joining forces with Chatham’s energy and climate action committee and the Harwich Conservation Trust toward the goals of reducing unnecessary fertilizer use in residential and commercial settings and preserving salt marsh health.

Susan Patterson



A Collective Winterfest Thanks


On behalf of the Orleans Chamber Board of Directors, I want to thank everyone who made Breakfast with Mrs. Claus/Santa Arrives by Boat and the Santa Stampede so special. Held on back-to-back Saturdays — Nov. 26 for Mrs. Claus and Dec. 3 for the Stampede — these popular annual events have become an Orleans tradition. 

However, they’re just part of a huge — and growing — town-wide holiday program collectively called “Winterfest” which includes the Orleans Improvement Association’s Candlelight Stroll from Post Office Square to Depot Square for the annual tree lighting; an all-day party at the Artist Cottages featuring kids’ activities, visits from Santa and live entertainment; and ongoing presentations of art and music, many coordinated by the Orleans Cultural District.

The list of people to thank is almost longer than Santa’s gift list, but we’ll give it a try: 

On Nov. 26, our sincere thanks go to:

  • The Rail for providing coffee, cider and pastries to the folks waiting for Santa. 

  • The Orleans Police Department for transporting Santa to his next destination.

  • The dozens of volunteers who donated their time and effort to make the day so special. 

  • Extra thanks to all the retailers who welcomed holiday shoppers with specials and savings for Small Business Saturday.

On Dec. 3, we wholeheartedly thank:

  • Our title sponsors Cape Cod 5, The Cape Cod Chronicle, and Friends’ Marketplace, the latter again providing an amazing array of tasty, healthy snacks as well as water for the runners. 

  • Major sponsors Nauset Marine, Agway, Hole-in-One, the OIA and The Orleans Firebirds, plus all of the sponsors who participated with their ideas and generosity.

  • The local businesses who donated gift cards and great merch to give away as prizes for the runners.

  • DJ Matty Dread from WOMR, who spun holiday tunes during the entire event.

  • And once again, an encore thank you to all the volunteers who helped keep the Stampede running smoothly, from registration to the finish line.

Until next year, happy holidays everyone!

Lisa Simundson, executive director

Orleans Chamber of Commerce