The Center for Coastal Studies is leading a guided seal hike on Thursday, July 16, at 2 p.m. and Sunday, July 19, at 5 p.m. Participants will visit a gray seal haul-out in Truro. Group size is limited to eight and the suggested donation is $5. Sign up at coastalstudies.org.
Sisters Violet and Hazel Yingling of Truro were going to go all the way to Paris, France, on an extra-special vacation this spring. They had to put their trip on hold because of the coronavirus, but not without making the most of their plans.
The whole family had joined in on the planning, said Guillermo Yingling, the girls’ father. “My sisters bought them dresses for Paris, and berets,” he said. “My cousin and her kids were going, too.” They would have been sharing a house near Notre Dame in the center of the city, and the girls were learning some French in preparation.
Now, everyone pitched in to think of ways to bring a Parisian experience to Truro instead.
“My aunt sent them a Monet book and a puzzle of a church in Paris,” Yingling said. “And my girlfriend, who is a very good baker, made croissants and baguettes. The whole time we were supposed to be in Paris, we pretended we were there, in our heads.”
“My dad really made it feel like Paris,” said Hazel, who is nine. Violet, 11, agreed and added that the “fake-Paris” trip began on the same day they were supposed to go for real. “That night I looked in a French cookbook my dad had, and we made a French salad for dinner,” said Violet.
The highlight of the vacation was a giant homemade Eiffel Tower. “My dad taped together a bunch of paper bags and spray-painted the Eiffel Tower on them in the driveway,” said Violet. Then he hung the tower from the living-room ceiling. “I got to climb that Eiffel Tower every single day,” said Hazel. “Me and Violet took up binoculars a couple of times just to look down, even though it wasn’t very far.”
The sisters did some other sightseeing during their adventure. Located near the Highland Light in the National Seashore, the 70-foot-tall Jenny Lind Tower — named after the 19th-century opera singer — resembles an image out of a fairy tale. “The Jenny Lind Tower looks like part of a castle,” said Violet, “so our dad took us there because he thought that it was like something we might see in Paris.”
Violet and Hazel will eventually get to experience Paris, said their dad. In the meantime, Violet’s advice to everyone who has to stay home instead of taking their vacation is: “Use your imagination and make the most of it. We still had a lot of fun.”
Going on a Pretend Trip
- Think of a place you’ve always wondered about.
- Read up: what kind of natural or architectural sites are there to see in your special place?
- Choose a place to stay. Find out where travelers stay when they go. What places do you want to be near?
- What kind of art is your place known for? Look for artworks from there in a museum book or online.
- Re-create a piece of art or architecture in your own way. Like Violet and Hazel’s Eiffel Tower, it can be made of cardboard.
- Try the food! See if you can find a recipe. Is it something you could cook here?
- Pick a place nearby to go and visit. Is there a place you can go with your family just for the fun of having an excursion? Is it anything like your dream destination?
It’s Monday, Oct. 8, 1956, and New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen is throwing a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. A 26-year-old Sports Illustrated writer named Walter Bingham is covering the game at Yankee Stadium, and he lets his passion for the Dodgers get the best of him, even though he’s supposed to be a neutral reporter.
“It was so early in my career I was still a Dodger fan,” Bingham said by phone this week. “As the game went on, I kept rooting for someone to hit one.”
It didn’t happen. Larsen completed the only perfect game in World Series history and the Yankees went on to win the series in Game 7.
It was the first of many singular events in Bingham’s 35-year career as a writer and editor for Sports Illustrated. After retiring to his home in Truro, he began writing a weekly sports column for the Cape Cod Times, which he continues to this day.
Bingham and his wife, Betty, are currently staying at a senior residence in Duxbury as his 90th birthday, on Aug. 27, approaches.
“My heart is really in Truro,” he said. “I’d like to be thought of as a Truro boy.”
Bingham spent his first summer here as a teenager in 1945. “After the first three or four years, I was hooked,” he said. He worked at the Shell gas station in what is now Jams. The village green, opposite the station, was where he and friends would gather to play croquet.
“Cars would come to a halt and someone would get out and ask, ‘Excuse me, do you know where the center of Truro is?’ I’d say, ‘You’re standing in it.’ ”
His favorite beach was Ballston — a three-mile bike ride from his house. “Life was different then, of course,” he said.
Bingham joined SI in 1955 and began working at the clip desk. By the time he left he had become assistant managing editor.
He covered golf, tennis, college football, and baseball. He worked with writers like Frank Deford and Dan Jenkins. Bingham credits SI’s success to editor Andre Laguerre, who joined the magazine in 1959.
“It would be an overstatement to say I owe my journalistic career to a portly, hard-drinking, cigar-smoking Frenchman named Andre Laguerre,” Bingham wrote in his April 5 column, “but no one else comes even close.”
Bingham covered the Masters golf tournament 20 years in a row. You can still find his stories in the SI online vault: vault.si.com/author/walter-bingham.
He especially remembers Jack Nicklaus’s heroics, particularly his historic one-stroke victory in 1986. “I was there for the first three rounds,” Bingham said. “At the end of three rounds they weren’t really talking about Nicklaus. He was long past his good playing days. I had to go back to New York because I was the golf editor and spent Sundays in the office, so, sadly, I had to watch the final round on television. I can tell you right now, he birdied 9, birdied 10, birdied 11, bogied 12, birdied 13, par on 14, eagled 15, almost made a hole in one on 16, birdied 17, and par on 18.”
Bingham found his love for sports early on as a runner.
“The first time I realized I was a pretty good runner was when Cookie Ryan threatened to punch me in the nose,” Bingham wrote in his April 16 column. “He was almost a full year older and slightly bigger, but when I reached home, he was far behind.” The title of the piece is “Born to run — but not forever.”
Bingham ran in five Boston Marathons, three New York marathons, and countless 5K races.
“The feeling of floating, dancing on air” is how he described it.
His last race was about six years ago when he ran the Pamet 5K in Truro. He was hobbling at the end, but his son appeared at his side to help him finish the last 20 yards. Bingham truly ran until he couldn’t anymore.
Sports Illustrated, he lamented, is not the same. The office is no longer in Rockefeller Center. A weekly for decades, it now comes out only 16 times a year.
“There’s something that’s called Sports Illustrated,” Bingham said, “but it is absolutely nothing like it was.”
The magazine and much else in the publishing world may have changed, but judging from Walter Bingham’s elegant and lively writing, his own run is far from over.
TRURO — For the people who grow vegetables and manicure lawns, it’s definitely not a garden variety spring, as the coronavirus closes retail garden centers and seed catalogs are selling out.
TRURO — “Farmer Stephanie” Rein is the newest select board member after a spirited race against planning board member Karen Tosh to succeed the late Maureen Burgess.
Tuesday’s special election brought out 33 percent of the town’s 1,877 registered voters. Rein won 378 to 240; there were two blanks. She has said she’ll run for a three-year term on May 12.
Rein, 50, will change the balance of the board on several key issues, such as housing diversity and the future of the Walsh property, 70 acres of town-owned land, said Nick Brown, a Rein supporter.
“I’m amazed that 620 people voted; the last time we had a special election we had 84 voters back in 2004,” Rein said. “I’m so proud that people in my community were so engaged.”
Rein has said she wants to help working-class people and families because they are not well represented on town boards. She has stressed the need for affordable housing and housing for the elderly who want to downsize and stay in Truro.
TRURO — The school committee, which agreed last spring to completely eliminate tuition for preschool at the Truro Central School, decided on Feb. 13 not to enlarge the program to accommodate three-year-olds for a full five days a week.
The committee endorsed free preschool this year for four-year-old children of residents and town employees, and for however many three-year-olds could fit. The new policy was prompted by Provincetown’s 2018 decision to provide free child care and preschool for all infants, toddlers, and three- and four-year-olds of residents and town employees. The unique initiative had a ripple effect in Truro, where many Provincetown town employees live. With their students heading to Provincetown’s preschool, the Truro committee responded to the competition for a shrinking supply of students.
Provincetown’s “ambitious and noble” effort to support families is still the most generous in the state, according to Truro School Supt. Michael Gradone.
Wellfleet has had a preschool voucher program since 2015. And the Eastham Select Board is considering placing an article on the May town meeting warrant to provide a “family support package” including preschool vouchers for Eastham residents and employees, said Town Administrator Jacqueline Beebe.
Truro’s old preschool program, which the town partly subsidized for over 20 years, offered all four-year-olds of residents five days of preschool; any leftover space was allotted to three-year-olds. The preschool program costs well over $100,000 a year, with one full-time teacher and three assistants. Tuition payments totaled only about $35,000. Taking Provincetown’s lead, the school committee voted last year to eliminate tuition starting in the fall of 2019.
“The decision was driven by the obvious need to make Truro as family-friendly a community as we possibly can,” Gradone said.
Gradone said he researched other towns throughout the state and found that Provincetown’s program stood by itself. The next most generous programs are in Truro and Mashpee. Every other town, even wealthy suburbs, charges something for preschool, Gradone said.
“What P’town, Truro, and Mashpee are doing in lots of ways is leading the state down a path that will be followed,” Gradone said. “I’m very proud of the school committee for getting out front, and proud of the community for supporting it without question.”
The issue now is that more parents of Truro three-year-olds are interested in more classroom time. But accommodating all three-year-olds full-time would have essentially doubled the cost of the program and required additional space in the school, which goes up to sixth grade. Ken Oxtoby, chair of the Truro School Committee, said there would be no easy way to accommodate the space needs of a larger preschool. Currently it’s full, with 21 families participating.
In Wellfleet, voters responded to the challenge of helping working families with a preschool voucher program in 2015. The vouchers are available to all four-year-olds. Depending on the number of eligible students, each voucher is worth between $5,000 and $7,000 a year. This money can go to any state-licensed preschool.
The ripples are now reaching Eastham. Beebe is researching the cost of offering preschool vouchers for all four-year-olds along with a free after-school program, and possibly an expanded summer program. She said she is still working out costs. The select board may discuss it on Feb. 24, Beebe said.
Truro preschool enrollment for the 2020-21 school year opens on March 11. The program is open to resident children and children of town employees who turn three on or before Sept. 1. There is no fee for this program.
Call (508) 487-1558 for more information or to receive a registration packet. The registration form and enrollment request form must be returned to the school office by March 16.
Summer of '43
little joe gould has lost his teeth and doesn’t know where
to find them(and found a secondhand set which click)little
gould used to amputate his appetite with bad brittle
candy but just(nude eel)now little joe lives on air
—from a poem about Gould by E. E. Cummings
Well, Joe Gould may have lost them in Truro during the summer of 1943 when he unexpectedly turned up to visit my parents. His bus ticket had been provided by Gould’s literary and artistic acquaintances in Greenwich Village, who had probably wearied of his panhandling, his drunken binges, and his summer odor. He had only one suit, much too large, and he seldom, if ever, bathed. Still, he was tolerated, enjoyed even, for his humor and encyclopedic mind.
Gould was well known to those who frequented the Minetta Tavern and other Village bars. Now he has been the subject of memoirists and literary historians such as Joseph Mitchell and Jill Lepore, not just as a notable Village character but also as the author of the obscure and somewhat mythical unpublished book An Oral History of the Contemporary World. This manuscript supposedly contained every conversation he heard or overheard and was recorded in hundreds of notebooks that were stored all over New York City. (My father, Slater Brown, and Malcolm Cowley published 64 pages of it in Broom in October 1923.)
Anyway, his friends wired my parents that summer that Joe was on his way. He would occupy my bedroom and I would be moved to the attic.
The bus stopped in front of the only shop in Truro center, located across the road from what is now the Blackfish restaurant and Truro’s Cobb Library. My father met him as he stepped off the bus. Faces dropped, as Joe looked like the disheveled, dirty, homeless person that he was. One wonders with sympathy about his fellow passengers on the bus.
And, to the dismay of my parents, the aforementioned friends provided a one-way ticket only.
Until that moment, I had lived the life of a normal seven-year-old, enjoying idyllic summer days on the Pamet along Castle Road, swimming at high tide at the Sladeville landing, picking wild berries and beach plums, trying to grow a little garden in the sand, cycling around on a small blue bike given to me by a neighbor. Sometimes I would cycle all the way to the other side of the Pamet to the Depot Road railroad bridge, where I could swim with friends, jumping off the trestle when the water was high.
We had no car or telephone. Ice was delivered weekly in blocks for the ice box. Milk came by a milk truck. Groceries from Burch’s Market (now Angel Foods) in Provincetown, also delivered. These were war years, but to me life seemed really great, no matter if money was short.
My father, a published but impoverished writer, bailed fish at John Worthington’s fish plant in Pond Village, North Truro, and sometimes brought home fresh fish, often mackerel. If there were plenty, I could sometimes sell the extras to the Sladeville summer people for 25 cents apiece.
My mother, who had been a member of Martha Graham’s first performing troupe, typed manuscripts for several writers around. As she had a master’s degree in early education, she also served as principal of Truro Central School the year the permanent principal, Joe Peters, was called into military service.
Now, here comes Joe Gould.
My everlasting single memory of Joe Gould was the sight of him descending the stairs one morning, stark naked. It wasn’t until I saw the Cummings poem cited above, in which Gould is described as a “nude eel,” that I fully understood why we need poets.
I don’t know how Joe’s departure ever came about, but eventually my bedroom was scrubbed up and life became (I laugh when I say the word) “normal” again.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Truro Is ‘Heaven’
To the editor:
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the Dec. 19 letter from the editor entitled “Heart of Darkness” [page 2].
The editorial begins with a description of the editor’s head cold and general malaise, his busy schedule, and his frustration with not having enough time to make latkes. The writer then states that his mood worsened when he heard that a member of the Truro Planning Board “actually made an argument against affordable housing by saying he didn’t want to see the neighborhood turn into Flint, Michigan or the South Bronx.”
The writer quotes an unnamed source who states that she grew up in Truro and refers to Truro as the “Heart of Darkness.”
Truro is filled with all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions. The people of Truro are an eclectic bunch, not unlike our neighboring communities of Wellfleet and Provincetown. People in Truro are passionate and often outspoken about issues in their town. This is true about our housing crisis and many other topics that stir up strong feelings on either side of an issue.
The reference to “Heart of Darkness” is from a novella written by Joseph Conrad in 1899, which follows a man’s journey up the Congo River in Africa to “one of the dark places on earth.” The story line was used in the film Apocalypse Now as a metaphor for traveling to a place of moral decay and hopelessness. You get the idea.
So why would a fledgling neighborhood newspaper choose to describe Truro in this way? I really don’t know, but here’s a thought: let’s celebrate our diversity and passions; let’s not call each other names; let’s work together.
And, for the record, if someone were to ask me what I’d call Truro — that’s easy. I would call Truro “Heaven.”
Toward the Light
To the editor:
Thank you for Mark Gabriele’s honest yet hopeful appraisal of the U.S. as a pre-genocidal society, citing the presence of several of the 10 stages identified by the Alliance to End Genocide (“Fighting Darkness in the Season of Lights,” Dec. 19, page 3). It is only as we are sharp-eyed about reality that we may also perceive and move toward the light with audacious hope. Otherwise we mistake superficial glitter for the real thing.
Why do so many neighbors choose to ignore the actual depth of the darkness? For example, Christian traditions of this season emphatically do not. Following the story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew, a genocidal King Herod carries out a massacre of all boys under two years in the Bethlehem vicinity, presumably to eliminate a potential threat. (Although there is no historical corroboration of this, it is in keeping with what is known of Herod.) Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee as refugees from their home country to Egypt, returning only after Herod’s death.
Flash forward to the U.S. in 2019. Children have died in the custody of Homeland Security. Many more have likely suffered permanent trauma through forced separation from parents. So-called Migrant Protection Protocols force desperate refugees to face danger and despair in Mexico while awaiting asylum hearings.
Yet many Christians join with others in the chorus to declare that the Trump administration is scoring “wins” for them and for America. They ignore or fail to see the dark forces at work beneath the glitter.
A season of lights will have arrived when more of us, of whatever beliefs, have been able to acknowledge the truth and then move toward the presence of true community with one another and the Earth. In this shines a light no darkness can overcome.
The writer is a Presbyterian minister.
TRURO — The Truro Conservation Trust closed on a bayside property on Nov. 1 for $250,000 — far below the original asking price for the 1.1-acre parcel next to Great Hollow Beach. The trust covered the entire cost, with no public money spent.
Last year, the property at 2 Kill Devil Road was listed at $869,000, and the town, in collaboration with the conservation trust, proposed purchasing it. The understanding was that this would roughly triple the size of the existing public beach.
Town meeting voters approved $242,000 in Community Preservation Act funds toward the purchase. But further legal research revealed that neighborhood covenants governed the use of the property, and that those covenants would not allow public use of the beach, Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer said on Monday.
Every town on Cape Cod is encouraged to have a local comprehensive plan, developed in accordance with its residents’ expressed priorities, updated every 10 years, and certified by the Cape Cod Commission — the Cape’s regional planning agency. Only two of 15 towns do.
“Ten years goes by pretty quickly,” said Jon Idman, the commission’s chief regulatory officer. “Towns would spend tons of money on consultants and write these huge tomes and then 10 years would come up and they would say, ‘We just don’t have the resources to do this again.’ The focus should have been on implementation, not just developing a plan to put on a shelf.”
To remedy the situation, the Cape Cod Commission changed its rules for certification earlier this year.
“If the process you have discourages the development of plans and discourages certification that’s supposed to create a regional planning network, then you have to update your process,” Idman told the Independent.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has questions for towns that have issued host community agreements to marijuana businesses.
Provincetown, Wellfleet, and Eastham town administrators all received subpoenas last month ordering them to produce documents, emails, and any other correspondence associated with the agreements.
They must appear at the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse to testify before a federal grand jury, according to the subpoena issued on Oct. 8 to Eastham Town Administrator Jacqueline Beebe. The notice commands her to be at the courthouse at 10 a.m. on Nov. 14.
Rae Ann Palmer, town manager in Truro, which has given a host agreement to a cannabis farming group, the High Dune Craft Cooperative, had not received one as of Tuesday, she said. But Wellfleet Town Administrator Dan Hoort and Provincetown Acting Town Manager David Gardner both have, they said.
No one knows why exactly. Katherine Laughman, who represents several towns including Eastham for KP Law, said she could not comment on the subpoenas because federal grand jury investigations are secret.
Lelling’s interest has something to do with the host community agreements, which are the critical first approvals marijuana businesses must get from towns before they can seek state licenses. In the case of medical marijuana dispensaries the agreements are called letters of non–opposition.
The subpoenas call for all written, electronic, or other records relating to any business that has applied for a marijuana (adult use or medical) license.
Officials must include “every iteration and draft version of the agreement,” the orders state. The U.S. attorney wants voicemail recordings and everything pertaining to public deliberations. And he has demanded all records that identify current or former town employees who have been hired by or received payment from a marijuana business applicant.
Gardner said he suspects the subpoenas have to do with the investigation and Sept. 6 arrest of Jasiel F. Correia II, the mayor of Fall River, whom the U.S. Dept. of Justice has charged with “extorting marijuana vendors for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,” according to the U.S. attorney’s public announcement. Lelling’s office, which is prosecuting Correia, states that the bribes range from $100,000 to $250,000 in cash. In exchange Correia agreed to issue non-opposition letters and community host agreements to marijuana business owners, according to Lelling’s office.
Correia, 27, issued at least 14 non-opposition letters for marijuana businesses to operate in Fall River, including two for his current girlfriend’s brother. And when the Fall River City Council passed an ordinance to limit the number of marijuana licenses in the city to 20 percent of the number of off-premises liquor licenses or 11, whichever is greater, Correia vetoed the order, claiming that it would eliminate competition, Lelling’s announcement stated.
Attorney Michael Fee, a Truro resident who represented the High Dune Craft Cooperative in obtaining host community agreements from Truro and Wellfleet, said Gardner is probably correct. The host community agreements have been controversial from the start, he said.
“I can only speculate — I don’t know what Lelling is thinking,” Fee said. “But he’s probably thinking of the abuses unearthed by the Fall River mayor. These are egregious violations of the public trust.”
The host agreements give communities leverage over marijuana businesses. Towns are allowed by law to ask that up to three percent of sales revenue in the first five years be given to the towns as “community impact fees,” said Fee.
There is a clause in the law stating that community impact fees must correlate with the actual cost burden a new marijuana business places on police, fire, and other municipal services.
How do you judge such an impact with a completely new industry? Fee asked.
“My feeling is some cities and towns feel they can interpret this broadly,” Fee said. “So it’s an environment that’s ripe for unscrupulous public officials.”
Towns can also ask for other payments, as well as donations in kind, in the host agreements. These agreements are all public documents.
In Provincetown, for example — which has host agreements with seven pot purveyors — the community impact fee for all vendors is three percent of gross sales. Plus the cannabis vendors must give a discount to low-income medical marijuana card holders and donate 100 hours of community service activities. Each applicant also agreed to make an annual charitable contribution of up to one percent of gross revenues to a fund established to provide grants to social service agencies.
While host community agreements may have some controversial aspects that are open to interpretation, Fee thinks U.S. Attorney Lelling is looking for major corruption, such as what allegedly occurred in Fall River.
It’s highly unlikely Lelling will find anything like that on the Outer Cape, Fee said, adding that the agreements with Truro and Wellfleet on which he advised clients are completely appropriate.
In Provincetown, Gardner said the seven marijuana businesses that have host agreements are still waiting for final state approval. The furthest along, Curaleaf at 170 Commercial St., will probably open in January.
Wellfleet has five host community agreements for retail sales and one for cultivation, though none has final state approval.
Truro has signed only with the High Dune Craft Cooperative.
Eastham has two agreements, one for retail, one for both retail and cultivation.
TRURO — It was no surprise to any board of health member that the Delgizzi family had not complied with the latest orders to clean up their property and submit plans for repairs and septic upgrades.
Daniel Delgizzi and his son David have for years ignored town rules and failed to pay taxes on multiple rundown properties housing year-round tenants from Provincetown to Orleans, according to officials in those towns. [See the Independent’s Oct. 10 report.] Assessing records show they own about 100 units of housing, including 36 rooms at the Truro Motor Inn. It is this property that the board of health has now asked a court to seize control of.
The health board is searching for a way to keep the estimated 50 tenants from becoming homeless while also getting the Delgizzis to comply with health and safety codes. The property has a failed septic system, overloaded wiring, and overcrowded conditions.
On Oct. 22 the board voted four to one to petition a land court judge in Barnstable to place the property under the control of a receiver. The judge should decide in about two months, said Truro town counsel Gregg Corbo. The receiver would take the rent paid by tenants and apply it to repairs so the motel meets building codes.
But, explained Corbo, even if a receiver takes over — and he thinks one will — the tenants at the Truro Motor Inn could still be asked to leave or to pay much higher rent at some point in the process.
The number of people living there is going to be drastically reduced to meet code, said Mark Peters of the board of health.
Upgrading the inn and keeping it as year-round housing doesn’t make financial sense, said Jason Silva, a board member. “The numbers don’t work,” he said.
Meredith Goff, another board member, asked if the receiver would be responsible for finding housing for the tenants if they cannot stay.
Corbo said the landlord (in this case, the receiver) would have the responsibility to help find housing. But there are limited choices. Two housing organizations recently advised the board that only four potential units could be located to help the Truro Motor Inn tenants, said health board Chair Tracey Rose.
It could ultimately be determined that the motor inn cannot be operated as a lodging house, Corbo said. But that’s not under the board of health’s control.
“Your role is to protect public health,” he said.
The receivership process is intended to keep people in their homes longer than condemning it would. But one board member, Peter Van Stratum, said the place should be condemned. His was the only no vote on the receivership question.
“It is unsafe,” Van Stratum said. “You have extension cords that are hot, OK?”
To allow people to stay there for two years while the property gets fixed is “egregious on our part, on humanity’s part,” he said.
TRURO — The nor’easter that struck the Outer Cape on Oct. 10 and lingered for almost three days caused massive erosion at Ballston Beach. Sand dunes and bluffs were carved away, exposing the bare clay beneath.
The new scenery is unfamiliar — almost Martian in its hues and its bizarre ridged formations cut into the clay — and some observers were alarmed by the magnitude of the changes, worried that the pace of erosion has picked up dramatically.
TRURO — Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer has announced she will retire on June 30, 2020 after five years as the town’s municipal chief.
“It’s time,” she said on Tuesday. “It’s been a great five years. I feel we’ve done a lot of great work together.”
Palmer, who lives in Eastham, told her department heads on Friday she would not seek to renew her contract, which is up in June 2020.
Creating a cohesive team that works well together has been her proudest accomplishment, she said. But it has not been easy keeping all the town jobs filled. If the current candidate for council on aging director accepts the town’s offer, it will be one of the rare times every department head chair has been occupied, Palmer said.
“It’s really hard to hire people out here,” she said.
Still, she wrote in her letter to staff, “The town is filled with dedicated public servants who are committed to their jobs and who care about the community they serve. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my career to lead this team, and I will truly miss the staff more than anything.”
Palmer, who worked for the city of Hartford, Conn. for 22 years, was also the assistant town manager of Wethersfield, Conn., a suburb of Hartford, for another 10 years. She accepted the job of Truro town administrator in 2014. The charter commission then changed her title to town manager, giving her supervisory power over the police and fire chiefs, formerly the domain of the select board.
Palmer, whose base pay is about $130,000 plus a housing allowance, faced one extreme challenge during her tenure.
In May 2018, she sought and was granted a harassment prevention order against former Fire Chief Brian Davis after he was overheard saying she should be shot, according to court documents. Issued by Judge Toby S. Mooney of Orleans District Court, the order expired in June of this year and Palmer declined to seek a continuance.
A harassment prevention order differs from a restraining order in that it can be taken out against a person who is not a domestic or intimate partner.
According to court documents obtained by the Independent, when the Truro police served the order on Davis, they confiscated a number of weapons and ammunition from him, and secured them at the Truro Police Dept. This week, Truro Police Chief Jamie Calise would not say how many or what types of weapons had been confiscated from Davis, or who now held possession of those firearms. Calise said he needed to ask for legal advice before releasing such details.
Court documents state that Palmer requested the harassment prevention order following threatening statements Davis allegedly made on May 8, 2018 about her as well as about Fire Chief Timothy Collins and Collins’s girlfriend. During a discussion among several people in the Truro Dept. of Public Works break room, Davis allegedly said, “Someone should shoot [Palmer] in the head.” Davis then went on to make a similar statement about Collins, and to suggest a sexual attack on Collins’s girlfriend, according to a police narrative written by Det. Steven Raneo.
Davis was in the DPW building on that day in 2018 although he had retired from the fire department in 2015. He had reached the mandatory retirement age of 65, said Chief Collins on Monday.
“As the town manager I have a responsibility to act to protect staff,” Palmer wrote in an affidavit seeking the harassment prevention order. “I fear that this anger is escalating.”
It was not the first threatening statement Davis allegedly uttered. According to her affidavit, sometime in the week of April 23, 2018, he told DPW Director Jarrod Cabral that he had put a curse on Rex Peterson, Truro’s deceased town administrator, and that Palmer “should be dead.”
Davis allegedly made similar remarks directly to Palmer in 2014 when she first became town administrator, and again in January 2018, when he stopped by her office, she wrote.
Palmer would not comment on this matter. Davis, through his attorney, Matthew Kelley of Harwich, also declined to talk.
Select board member Robert Weinstein praised Palmer’s leadership and called her a friend.
“My take is she has brought a level of professionalism that the town sorely needed,” he said.
From dealing with sharks to affordable housing, “She’s done a lot; she will be hard to replace,” he said.
Editor’s note: Because of a reporting error, the print edition of this article published on Oct. 24 erroneously stated that Rae Ann Palmer was given the power to hire the police and fire chiefs when she became town manager. She has supervisory, not hiring, authority over the two chiefs.
PROVINCETOWN — Town Planner Jeffrey Ribeiro is resigning from his job this week to become the Truro town planner next week.
The Truro position offers slightly more money, but according to Ribeiro that’s not the reason he’s moving — it’s that there are more interesting opportunities coming up in Truro. The Provincetown planner’s time is so completely consumed by the demands of permitting and development, he said, that there’s little left for the rest of his duties.
The town planner is liaison and technical adviser to the zoning board of appeals, the planning board, and the historic district commission, and in a town with as much ongoing development as Provincetown, Ribeiro said, that aspect of the job tends to box out all other work.
“The staff here in Provincetown is great — it’s not just a job for anyone here,” Ribeiro said. “People are really interested in the work they’re doing, and that doesn’t happen everywhere. We have a lot of Leslie Knopeses here,” said Ribeiro, referring to the amusingly overcommitted star of the NBC sitcom “Parks and Rec.”
“And we have great boards,” he added, “the amount of work they do, and the degree to which they care about the underlying issues — it makes it hard to leave. I’m not paying lip service here. They’re authentically great.”
But, he continued, he has little time for working on housing issues, developing the local comprehensive plan, or hearing from the public.
“I was able to do more of that kind of work at the Cape Cod Commission, where I was before, and I’ll be able to do more of that in Truro,” he said. “It’s part of the job description here, too, but there is so much permitting work coming in, and it’s got to happen first. It’s urgent. The important but not urgent stuff just hasn’t been possible.”
Ribeiro is excited about working in Truro because of both the land available and the people.
“There’s a great group of younger people in Truro who are starting to get involved in a bigger way,” he said. “A lot of them grew up there, and they’re really engaged. In fact, there’s a lot of opportunity in Truro to address problems that both towns share. Provincetown couldn’t have businesses without water from Truro, but Truro also wouldn’t be so attractive without all those restaurants nearby in Provincetown. The workforce, the communities are tied together in a lot of ways. They’re shared communities with shared problems, and there’s a lot of room to work together.”
Because of Truro’s larger lot sizes, the town could make good use of its accessory dwelling bylaw, Ribeiro said.
“There are areas that could become vibrant villages, and that’s a discussion the town is having,” he said. “The Walsh property is an almost unparalleled opportunity. I worked on something at the commission called conservation-based affordable housing. The idea is, with a large property, you don’t have to make it into all one or all the other. The Community Preservation Act sets it up so you can do some of both.”
Both Provincetown and Truro have had trouble getting their local comprehensive plan revisions off the ground. Provincetown finished its last LCP in 2000, and the rewrite that was begun in 2016 and then revived in 2018 is now “in a holding pattern,” Ribeiro said. “The Cape Cod Commission has just promulgated some new rules that make the process easier for towns to move through. There are several towns on the Cape that are struggling with this.”
Writing a local comprehensive plan involves multiple community meetings on a half-dozen major subjects, such as economic development, affordable housing, open space, community services, and historic preservation. This kind of work is catnip to an urban planner, but this is also the work that Ribeiro wasn’t able to do in Provincetown, due to the steady demands of permitting.
Asked if the position had grown too daunting for one person, Ribeiro hesitated.
“I don’t want to say that,” he said. “I will say this though: I think one amazing thing about Provincetown is the scale at which it’s willing to tackle problems. The Year-Round Rental Housing Trust is innovative, outside-the-box, and it’s going to last. On climate adaptation, I think we are way ahead. As a town, we want to do big things that other communities don’t do. We don’t always have enough people to do all of those things. People here in this office encounter that every day.”