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Quote of the Week
". . . whether you’re a CEO or an
inmate stuck in solitary confinement, what we have in common is humanity
and a connection to nature."
--Biologist and founder of the Sustainability in Prisons Project
Nalini Nadkarni, on her efforts to bring nature education to the masses – and not just the easy-to-reach ones. Read more at National Geographic.
Save the Date:
Saturday, Oct. 1
Living Local Harvest Festival
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This year's theme of waste reduction is very near to the heart of VCS – Make sure to check out our table at the festival!
Call for Volunteers
To pull off this local tradition requires a lot of volunteers – from parking to pumpkin carving to everything in between. Click here to learn more and submit your info online, or email the organizers.
Environmentally Friendly Lawns
Saturday, Sept. 10, 1:00 to 2:00 pm, West Tisbury.
The Polly Hill Arboretum hosts Michael Talbot, co-owner of Talbot Ecological Land Care
for a comprehensive program on how to reduce lawn area and care for
lawns in a way that better protects people, pets, and the environment.
Free, for more info call (508) 693-9426 or see website
Related: It's the law now!
Passed at the 2014 Town Meetings and taking effect last year, there is
now a bylaw in all six towns limiting the usage of fertilizer on lawns.
The regulations apply to everyone: homeowners as well as professional
lawn care companies. While the technical language of the law may be
confusing, have no fear! Simply follow these six guidelines
from the VCS Homeowner's Guide and you can be sure to be in compliance with the law, and have a healthy, non-polluting lawn.
Talking Ticks: Survey Results
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 5:15 to 7:00 pm, Edgartown.
Tick expert Dick Johnson, along with two medical doctors, will present
early results from a community survey about tick-borne illness on the
Vineyard. The survey was conducted in August by the Vineyard Gazette and Island Boards of Health. At the Gazette office (map), free, but please register by calling (508) 627-4311.
West Tisbury Farmers' Market
Saturdays, 9:00 to noon, West Tisbury.
Fresh-picked produce from local farms, flowers, delicious baked goods
and prepared foods from Island kitchens and more. Outside of the Grange
Hall in West Tisbury. For more info, see website.
Guided Birding Tours
Saturdays, 9:00 to 11:30 am, MV Reg. High School.
Visit birding hot spots with your guide Robert Culbert. Carpool will
depart from the high school faculty parking lot at 9:00. Cost is $30 per
adult, $15 for under 18. For more details, call (508) 693-4908 or email.
Fall Wee Farmers
Saturdays, 9:30 to 11:00 am, Katama.
Visit animal friends and help with the fall harvest, as the FARM
Institute's long-running off-season program for preschoolers returns on
September 10. For ages 2-5, $15 per session ($9 for Trustees members),
must be accompanied by adult. For more info see website or call (508) 627-7007.
Could the Steamship Authority Help Reduce Summer Traffic Congestion?
That's nothing – there's hardly anyone sitting in the intersection! (Photo by Jeanna Shepard for Vineyard Gazette)
With the peak summer traffic now squarely in the rear view mirror, it’s a
good time to exhale and think a bit about what felt like an unusually
jammed-up season on Island roads. According to reporting earlier this
summer by the Vineyard Gazette,
automobile traffic on the Steamship Authority was up about 10% through
mid-summer, with little sign of a slow-down on the horizon. So, when the
SSA took out a full-page ad on the back of the Gazette asking
for public feedback on their new operating schedule, it was really one
line, probably not itself intended to be commented upon, that caught our
“During peak travel times unscheduled trips may be added to meet traffic demands.”
No one denies that spending some extra time in Woods Hole is an
inconvenience, unexpected expense, and/or disappointment (with no
offense intended to the good folks at Pie in the Sky, Quicks Hole
Tavern, or when things truly go badly, the Sands of Time), but it’s also
something of a rite of passage. Adding extra ferry runs at times of
peak demand is obviously going to increase traffic on the Island at exactly the time of peak traffic.
Is it worth it? The answer might depend on whether it’s Friday and
you’re standing by the car wondering if you’ll make it to the Vineyard
that night, or Saturday morning, and you’re sitting in a three-mile
backup wondering if you’ll make it to the Farmers’ Market before it
ends. But it’s a question worth asking.
Increased automobile trips on the ferry is not the sole, or possibly
even primary, cause of our worsening summer traffic. But even if it’s
not their fault, the SSA does have the ability to do something about it.
Reducing, or at least holding steady, total auto capacity should be a
serious consideration. Simply choosing not to add extra unscheduled
trips to meet peak demand would be a good start. The SSA has asked for
comments to be sent by Sept. 18 via email, or to PO Box 284, Woods Hole, MA 02543.
Proposed Expansion of Athletic Facilities at the High School Must Receive Full DRI Review
On Thursday, Sept. 15 the MV Commission will hold a public meeting to
determine whether the proposed expansion of athletic facilities at the
Regional High School, including the construction of one or more
artificial turf playing fields, will be reviewed as a Development of
Regional Impact (DRI). The proposal raises several environmental
concerns, including groundwater impacts, increased night-time lighting,
waste disposal (the entire plastic carpet must be periodically disposed
of and replaced), and increased traffic and vehicle emissions (the
project envisions a consolidation of all Island youth sports activity
into this newly expanded central location). In addition, many community
members have voiced concerns over the possible health impacts of toxic
substances used in artificial turf. It would be an understatement to say
that it has been a contentious issue from the time it became public.
It should be stressed that the immediate question under consideration by
the MVC is not whether the project should move forward, in its current
form or with modifications, but rather whether the Commission will
review the proposal at all. In general, certain proposals will be
automatically reviewed as a Development of Regional Impact because they
trigger one or more items on the DRI checklist. In contrast, this athletic field expansion has been submitted as a discretionary referral, meaning the MVC may choose not to review the project.
VCS recognizes that abundant and equitable access to safe athletic
facilities for our young people is an important part of our local
quality of life, and we are grateful for the hard work and generosity of
the organizers and donors supporting this project. However, we feel
that regardless of the merits of the proposal, it is quite clearly a
Development of Regional Impact. As we wrote in our letter to the MVC urging them to undertake a full DRI review:
. . A return to natural grass is likely unfeasible, so for planning and
review purposes we should assume that, once installed, an artificial
field is essentially a permanent structure for which the long-term
environmental impacts depend greatly on future maintenance decisions.
For example, grass carpets marketed as lead-free (and Made-in-the-USA)
do exist, but they are more expensive than imported carpets containing
lead. . . . it is reasonable to fear that more toxic, less
environmentally-friendly materials could be used in the future due to
Given the magnitude of this project, both in terms of time commitment
and scope, we urge the Commission to afford it a thorough DRI review. We
believe the effects on traffic, waste disposal, open space, night
skies, and watersheds clearly warrant such. Disagreement over issues
related to environmental toxicity stem from scientific and medical
uncertainty, as well as competing interests and values, such as parents’
risk tolerance. Should the MVC undertake a review, please take the
broadest possible scope, considering impacts on the entire community and
The meeting will be held at 7:00 in the cafeteria at the MV Regional
High School. We encourage everyone to attend and urge the Commission to
agree that this is indeed a development that will impact the entire
Island for many years to come.