Letters To The Editor: March 28, 2024

by Cape Cod Chronicle Readers

Roads, Taxes, Equity


In response to “Private Roads, Public Inequity” (March 14):

I live in South Chatham on a “private” dirt road populated by seven tax-paying residents. Walkers are welcome, but on any given day I can watch several large commercial vehicles, pickup trucks, and passenger cars pass my house using the road as a cut-through to paved streets beyond. Consequently, the road is in poor condition despite costly efforts to fill in the holes. I am 88 years old, use a rolling walker, but must walk to the next paved street to access my mailbox. After a snow storm the road is not plowed by the town, and it is up to the tax-paying residents to pay for this themselves. Our taxes go to pay for these amenities on the roads in other neighborhoods. Inequity, indeed!

Allene Henrikson

South Chatham

Heroes Come Through


This is a note for my Harwich Heroes! I've had many issues over the years with the big bad wolf, with only one other hero standing up for me, but the wolf had him for dinner, but this time all my knights, the Harwich Police Department, came to my rescue! They arrived immediately and stood up to the big bad wolf with a verbal reprimand to his bushy chin! They also knew the law and instructed me about what to do next at the courthouse. Plus they were so cute with caring personalities, what a pleasure, my knights in shining armor.

C. Cameron


Possibilities And Hope


It was with renewed hope that I left the joint Chatham Council on Aging-Select Board meeting on March 18 after hearing the presentation by Catalyst Architecture relative to the possibilities for 193 Stepping Stones Rd. to be reinvented as an updated home for the CFAL. As I commented last October, efforts to solve our long-standing challenge would only come through fresh eyes and creative vision, both of which were demonstrated by Catalyst. Unfortunately, I also left with the uneasy feeling that our select board and some members of the COA board are falling prey to the three “P’s” of progress — Politics, Perfection and Procrastination.

At its core, politics is bringing two sides together and compromising to find a mutually acceptable solution to a problem. The options presented Monday night received favorable reactions from most of the COA board and our director of community services, which should speak volumes about compromise and progress. Yes, there are a number of details about the compromise to refine, but we must not fall prey to the second P — Perfection, which is widely understood to be the enemy of good. We can’t allow ourselves to get caught up in trying to make everything perfect, fulfilling every “want” that we don’t recognize and accept that significant progress might make a bigger difference than perfection.

The debate over what to do with the CFAL has been around for over a decade. We should be focusing on excellent solutions rather than perfect solutions. The final “P” is Procrastination. I’m reminded of the famous quote, “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.” I encourage our town leaders and our citizenry to embrace the latest vision for the CFAL, be excited by the promise of progress and see as I do the perfection of an imperfect solution.

David J. Mott


Compare New COA Proposal


Yes, reconstruction of the COA’s current location is a consideration at $6.5 million, which is likely to increase before building. How about presenting an honest and transparent estimate for the same size space at the community center and subsequent affordable housing at the current location for COA? I am suggesting this be done without selectmen or town government employees but a 10-person commission of retired year-round Chatham residents with an objective perspective.

Michael Colecchi


Water Alternative Worth Exploring


David Oakley makes an interesting argument about Chatham’s water supply and how it could be augmented. I both agree and disagree with his argument.

First, to toss conservation aside is to waste valuable water. With the adverse impacts of global climate disruption rearing its ugly head faster and more severely than previously anticipated, we need to save water that would be lost by implementing well known, inexpensive conservation strategies. Any well executed cost-benefit analysis concludes that the low cost of conservation yields huge positive returns. For a list of “water conservation tips,” see the comprehensive list cited by Pender County Utilities of North Carolina: pendercountync.gov/utl/water-conservation-tips/.

Second, his argument about augmentation of supply is well stated (no pun intended). His suggestion that Chatham implement a “leadership demonstration project” is excellent. Opposition to large-scale salt-water desalination has often been pointed at operating expenses. These types of facilities often use enormous amounts of electricity and/or natural gas. By way of example only, as noted in a 2022 MIT Newsletter, solar-powered systems offer a route to inexpensive desalination. See news.mit.edu/2022/solar-desalination-system-inexpensive-0214.

Chatham needs to implement both strategies, conservation and desalination. A leadership demonstration project is an excellent suggestion and could be funded by grants from state and federal entities and/or private foundations. For example only, the federal Department of Energy has such grant programs. See www.energy.gov/eere/solar/funding-opportunity-announcement-solar-desalination.

It is worth exploring all funding options for such grants.

Tom Clarke

West Chatham

Local Control Saved Beach


I read with interest the March 7 column penned by Gayle Spruch about Josh Nickerson's camp, now preserved at the Atwood House. Some years ago I was also a docent in his camp and enjoyed telling of the local's way of life on North Beach. His "Bar-B" camp was built in 1947 by Tom Haley after realizing his first camp was too small to host the Oct. 12 weekends that had originated when George Bearse owned the Monomoy Point Light.

The land acquisition tale of North Beach is interesting in itself and would make any real estate attorney foam at the mouth. In 1924, Josh's father Oscar Nickerson (founder of Nickerson Lumber) was given title to much of the beach by someone trying to satisfy an outstanding bill. The same year, George Bearse, known to have considerable land holdings, was given an identical deed. In fact, when the government auctioned off the Old Harbor Station in the 1940s, the stipulation was that the building be removed by the high bidder. A search revealed that the government never had clear title to the land underneath, which by then belonged to Nickerson and Bearse, and that the government had no right to force its removal.

Barnstable Superior Court ruled in 1958 that the beach, save for other private camps, would be divided between Nickerson, Bearse and Eleanor Edson who held the third and oldest deed to the beach. Ralph Bevins, who had been given a tract of beach by Oscar Nickerson years before, died in 1950 with Josh Nick purchasing his interest, thus claiming four miles worth of beach from near the Old Harbor Station to the point. After 1958, Josh Nick and George Bearse both gave deeds to the town, conveying the lion's share of their beach holdings.

Every year when my family and I are enjoying the beach, I happily toast Josh Nickerson, the "Hero of North Beach" and George Bearse, as their foresight to donate their tracts to the town precluded them from being seized by the federal government when the National Seashore took effect in 1961. The town is better for its local control of the beach.

Jared Fulcher


Sidewalks A Big Boondoggle


In response to a letter that appeared in The Chronicle's March 21 issue (“Time To End Unnecessary Growth”), I would like to indicate my support for the opinion of Matt Sutphin regarding the sidewalks being proposed along Route 28. I don't live there, I live in East Harwich. I sympathize with the homeowners that are being disrupted, but that is not my biggest concern. I just don't understand why it is being pushed so hard. It just seems like one big boondoggle to me. This is like the "bridge to nowhere" instead of "if you build it, they will come."

Norman Stafford


Implement Original Sewer Plan


Last month’s Chronicle articles about grinder pumps accurately captured the inherent financial and logistical burden a few Chatham property owners carry in connecting to town sewer. The articles also captured that it would be unfair to saddle just those topographically impacted taxpayers with the costs of purchase, installation, and maintenance of home grinder pumps. But in my opinion the articles did not capture that the need to install grinder pumps in some households was engineered by design.

The sewer loops selected by the town as part of the nitrogen reduction in groundwater plan of 2009-2010 required grinder pumps at individual households. In selecting that low-pressure loop design, the town saved millions in road infrastructure costs, property acquisition, design, permitting, EPA red tape, and costs associated with neighborhood pumping stations installed in low lying areas. And this design decision accelerated the implementation of the sewer loop that has benefitted all homeowners with a qualified nitrogen reduction plan that this year exempted existing septic systems from new impending regulatory upgrades.

The choice of this low pressure design was clearly explained and justified in a Q&A sent to Chatham taxpayers, still available on Chatham website. It is also explained in this Q&A that in selecting this type of sewer design, the town’s intent is to be responsible for taxpayers’ grinder pump costs. It is also not captured in The Chronicle prior articles that Chatham voters approved the comprehensive sewer plan in 2010 with the intent on an equitable financial solution for all taxpayers. It is perplexing why 14 years later the issue is being “studied” by the water and sewer committee instead of being acted upon by the select board. The select board should stop the delay relegating the issue to this two-year long “study” committee and follow through with the design and Q&A taxpayers voted for years ago.

The select board should take the steps necessary to implement the plan for an equitable solution for all taxpayers in connecting to town sewer. In recent meetings a select board member stated that they ad hoc approve installation of much more expensive central pumping stations for certain neighborhoods at taxpayers cost, but they have not taken steps to develop an equitable plan for individual impacted taxpayers needing a grinder pump. This is inherently unfair and not consistent with the vote of town taxpayers.

Robert Salter


Gloria Freeman Will Be Missed


We will miss you, Gloria Freeman. Chatham won’t be the same without you. Thank you for all you have done for Chatham, for all of the select board and town meetings you attended as well at the Chatham Historical Commission meetings you and Norm Pacun sat in on. Whenever you spoke, you were always beautifully prepared and persuasive. You gave your heart and soul to help save this town.

Two things stand out in my memory. The first is what you did to help save the Levi Atwood Farm on Oyster Pond, and the second was saving the Chatham Village Market. In order to rescue the Atwood Farm from demolition you encouraged people to write a “Letter to the Editor” describing the historical significance of the Farm to Chatham and to plead with the owner to preserve it. For the market, you gathered 17,000 signatures to convince the powers that be to keep a grocery store on that site. It’s hard to imagine Chatham without a grocery store.

Good luck to you, Gloria, and thank you for everything,

Jane Moffett