Dredging the Estuary
To the editor:
Congratulations to the Eastham Select Board for having the courage, leadership, and vision to finally stop the folly of dredging the estuary [“Eastham Pulls Out of Nauset Dredging Plan,” Dec. 23, Page A1]. They recognized that no amount of dredging would change access to the ocean because the inlet is not part of the proposed area to be dredged. They know that safety is not an issue because Eastham has already purchased rescue boats that can access either side of the inlet at all tides.
The chair of the Nauset Estuary Stakeholder Group has finally admitted the truth: the Orleans members are pursuing the dredging project to support two local businesses, not for the safety and navigation reasons previously given. Orleans Town Administrator John Kelly underscored the significance of the “safety and navigation” rationale: the National Park Service will not grant a dredging permit solely for economic reasons.
Finally, on the issue of economics, Eastham Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe pointed out at the joint select boards meeting that Eastham has a significant financial interest in rejecting the dredging project: to ensure the integrity of the barrier spit and the protection it affords the marsh and abutting homes in Eastham, assessed at over $82 million. The two Orleans businesses that would benefit from dredging, she reported, are assessed at just over $1 million.
We now know why Orleans is driving this project — and the real economics that demonstrate why stopping it is the correct choice.
The writer is a member of the Nauset Estuary Stakeholder Group.
Healing the Sea Bottom
To the editor:
Regarding the Dec. 23 article “Judge Rules Against Gloucester Clammer ‘Monty’ Rome” [page A4]: As a former commercial fisherman for 32 years, I believe that mobile gear, even when used for hydraulic dredging, causes little long-term disturbance to the ocean bottom (certain vulnerable habitat aside).
I have never used a hydraulic dredge or similar gear myself. But I was captain of several scallop vessels, and I would often have occasion to fish where the clam boats did. On one trip, I decided to try my luck on an area of good scallop bottom just west of the Cultivator shoals. I soon learned about the disruption the clam boats caused. My dredges came back full of soft earth, with few or no scallops. I cursed them for ruining the bottom and had to go find another area to fish.
I returned to the same area sometime later, hoping to find some scallops that might still be there. To my surprise, it was as if the clam boats had never been there. The bottom had apparently returned to its previous state, firm and productive, and was once again a good place to fish.
Nature has a way of healing most if not all traces of mobile fishing gear. If our fishing practices are as destructive as some say they are, how is it we are still fishing there after hundreds of years?
The writer works as a seafood industry consultant.
What ‘Keep Truro Rural’ Means
To the editor:
The Dec. 16 issue of the Independent contained two items that sound an alarm about our future.
Kudos to Dame Blanche (“Rue Commerciale,” page A2) for her cringe-worthy look at the future of Provincetown.
I don’t leave home much these days, so I haven’t seen any of the “Keep Truro Rural” stickers in the article on page A9. My guess is that, as Ellery Althaus suggests, development may be what the people behind the stickers are concerned about. I doubt it’s affordable housing.
It makes sense to blame overdevelopment and inflated property sales for the affordable housing crisis. It’s the mega-houses that are much too big and too ostentatious that threaten a rural community like Truro — or, for that matter, the village of Provincetown that nurtured fisherfolk and artists and provided a safe haven for diverse sexuality and political views.
Many second-home owners are respectful of traditional Truro, tread gently on our natural environment, and are an integral and collaborative part of our community. But others see Truro as an upscale playground, the in place to buy into. Modest homes for year-round working families are demolished or greatly enlarged for a wealthy vacation lifestyle — serviced by restaurant and hotel workers who can’t afford a roof over their heads.
We have turned the Lower Cape into one big catering company whose purpose is attracting seasonal visitors at the top of the wealth gap rather than sustaining a year-round community. We have forgotten the moral of “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” and are destroying what we once had.
Unless we create an economy that can support and house a stable year-round population, we will continue to have an affordable housing (and everything else) crisis. I’d like to think that is what those “Keep Truro Rural” stickers are all about.
Mr. Scigliano’s Mother
To the editor:
Regarding last week’s “Hiding in Plain Sight” [page C4]: The studios in the post office have been a not-so-well-kept secret for, I think, as long as I’ve been in Provincetown — 40 years. There was supposed to be a waiting list, but the truth is that the post office studios were passed down privately whenever an artist vacated one, which happened rarely.
In 1995, Pasquale Natale and I were both desperately looking for studio space, and we approached the post office about the unused third floor. The postmaster didn’t want us there, but he told us how to find the man in charge of renting U.S. Post Office space. That man, Mr. Scigliano, happened to have a mother who was a painter who had studied once in Provincetown.
After a lot of pleading, he decided to let us rent the whole top floor, and he personally put up the plaque to his mother, Anna Harrington Scigliano, referred to in your article. There was no heat up there, and we weren’t supposed to open the windows in the summer. When Mr. Scigliano took a leave of absence and the postmaster saw we had opened our windows, we were thrown out. (Pasquale and I eventually got permanent studios, built by Ted Malone, another generous lover of art and the people who make it.)
Happily, the plaque remains!
From a Distant Reader
To the editor:
Forgive me for responding so late to your Nov. 25 edition, but because I am from the Outer Outer Outer Cape, that is, Cayucos, Calif., it takes some time for me to receive the paper.
Every time I read the Independent, I am reminded of what we have in common, from snowy plovers, to trees (and those who disdain them), crustaceans, dune-buggied sands, and lack of affordable housing.
When I read your paper I get nostalgic for my former hometown paper, The Cambrian, which essentially no longer exists. One of the hallmarks of its demise was the new corporate owner no longer allowing editorials, making everything fit into little boxes of sameness and erasing controversy.
I was a business owner in Cambria, a town of 6,000. My business kept reaching new heights of success. After I went from a one-eighth-page black-and-white ad to a full-page color ad, I realized that I could never go back or it would look bad.
I was pretty naive. I didn’t realize that my full-page ad, week after week and double on Christmas, kept that newspaper afloat for years — until six months after I retired and the paper all but folded. Ceasing my advertising gave my competitors permission to stop, too.
I’m greatly heartened by the full-page “Thank You” in your Nov. 25 issue listing all the businesses, nonprofits, and artists that have advertised in the Indie this year. May you know how important you really are — and prosper!
To the editor:
Re: “A Eulogy for Two Trees Felled by Nor’easter” [Nov. 25, page A1]: There’s something wonderful about being part of a community that mourns its trees.