Where Will Workers Live?
To the editor:
Re “Barker’s Waterfront Plan Is Deemed ‘Appropriate’ ” [April 13, front page]:
The Provincetown Historic District Commission has a reputation for detailed consideration of design and strict demands for in-kind replacements. Cases on its April 5 docket before Christine Barker’s plan for 227-229 Commercial St. filled several hours, with discussions of the style of a non-street-facing residential door, criteria for window and chimney replacement, and partial obstruction of a bay window of one house by the fence of another. Yet the commission approved Barker’s demolition of historic buildings and construction of a resource-intensive five-story hotel-restaurant complex in less than 30 minutes.
I was surprised by the speed of the decision, the inconsistency of review across the hearings, and the absence of debate. It seemed as if the approval was based on the caliber of the architecture firm rather than the specifics of the plans. A precedent of extreme building height exemption and arbitrary historic conservation choices will not serve the town well.
We can’t build a year-round economy, or even a strong shoulder-season economy, without solving the shortage of year-round housing. The complete silence on this front from the development team is a red flag. There is no provision for worker housing in Barker’s plans. Where will hotel and restaurant workers live? Will this complex rely on a J1-visa student workforce?
Though “not my problem” may be the developer’s honest answer to these questions, it is not the answer that our community should be satisfied with. In addition to the aesthetic implications, there are economic implications to this development that all of us should consider. The unglamorous reality is that labor-force housing is connected to business viability in Provincetown.
For a New Music Venue
To the editor:
Unique to Provincetown is the incognito slip from the bustle of Commercial Street to the other side of the world, where sun, shoreline, horizon, and the bay live. The patina, height, and scale of the historic district not only allow this “style without design” feel, they create it.
Behind 227-229 Commercial, the property being proposed for new development, there is such a moment, where a strewing of pilings act out the transition, land to sea.
A plethora of new upscale dining and vacation rentals would of course be a major tourist element. It seems odd that this town in particular, with its lively arts community, has no dedicated music performance venue. A hall whose acoustics are its primary design concern, on the bay, could attract events that might break into bleak New England winters.
The foyer, with a café and a film, video, and book library without walls, could also provide visitors with a new venue for engagement and conversation.
A Wellfleet Scholarship Program
To the editor:
Article 42 on the April 29 Wellfleet town meeting warrant is a citizen petition to establish a town scholarship program with the following requirements:
To qualify, students must demonstrate financial need and academic merit annually. Students would be eligible in all four undergraduate years of college and must be attending an accredited nonprofit four-year or community college.
Applicants must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form annually.
The program would be managed by the full-time staff of the Cape Cod Foundation (CCF). Last year, the CCF awarded more than $900,000 in scholarships. It has served Cape Cod for 34 years.
The Wellfleet families that applied for CCF scholarships last year were able to contribute an average of $11,400 toward college. The cost for one year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is $33,000 per year. This means that many students are taking on more than $80,000 in debt for a bachelor’s degree. Existing scholarship programs sometimes reduce this debt by as much as 20 percent.
If approved, this program would not eliminate our students’ need to incur debt. But it would reduce the amount of that debt and increase the number of students who would be able to complete college.
Currently there are 18 Wellfleet seniors at Nauset Regional High School; 70 percent of them are likely to apply to college.
All scholarship payments would be sent directly to the colleges by CCF.
We are requesting an appropriation of $100,000 for fiscal 2024. This would add $22 to the average annual residential tax bill.
Please vote for Article 42 and for Question 20 on the May 1 town election ballot.
Overrides and Overspending
To the editor:
I believe that the town of Wellfleet is headed toward bankruptcy due to escalating operating expenses and pension obligations. The problem is mainly the result of a majority of voters who keep passing tax overrides.
There are 20 proposed Proposition 2½ overrides on the 2023 annual town meeting and election warrants, including an override of more than $600,000 to balance the operating budget for fiscal 2024 beginning on July 1. The total amount covered by these proposed overrides is more than $4.5 million.
When the town declares bankruptcy, many will be asking how it happened. As Ernest Hemingway said when asked that question, “Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”
It’s time to rein in Wellfleet’s overspending before the town goes belly up.
‘More Equal Than Others’
To the editor:
Re the Feb. 23 letter defending Nauset High’s “All Lives Matter” sign:
George Orwell wrote, in Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The phrase “All Lives Matter” was coined in opposition to “Black Lives Matter,” a movement that emerged in response to the killing primarily of Black men and women. The Nauset High Black Student Union members are probably too young to remember the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner almost 10 years ago, but the school’s administrators missed a teachable moment when they could have explained that history.
While having all lives matter equally is a fine goal, it is clear that we are far from realizing it. This month, two young Black men were expelled from the Tennessee legislature. Their crime was not observing decorum: they joined in an entirely peaceful protest against the laxness of Tennessee’s gun laws. One of their fellow lawmakers said their action was worse than the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. A white woman legislator who protested with them was not expelled.
Obviously, two young Black men, representing mostly Black and brown constituents, do not matter equally.
A Sacred Realm
To the editor:
All of the featured speakers at the recent National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis have declared they are “pro-life.” That explains something I have not been able to understand.
We are 100 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the U.S. than we would be if we lived in a more civilized country, as many other people do. So, the N.R.A. folks are “pro-life” — except if you are killed by a gun. Gun deaths are OK.
If you are killed by a gun, I guess, you automatically go to heaven and all your sins are forgiven. Remember that if you get into a discussion of the Second Amendment, you have entered a sacred realm, and you should understand that. Do not touch!