Islander's Blog

Archive for August, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

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The Sconset Beach Preservation Fund is back again. These are a number of well-heeled owners of houses perched on the bluff up along Baxter Road. Over thousands of years, sand has accreted and eroded from the shores of our benighted sand bar. Now, some folks out on the bluff have (once again) decided that they are going to attempt to stop erosion below their homesteads.

Let’s rehash what’s come before this most recent try to thwart Mother Nature. First, they tried a “dewatering system.” Besides tearing great gouges into the beach they said they were trying to save, it didn’t work. It may have caused more damage in the end. They like to say it worked, but then when it didn’t they had a number of excuses for why it failed. The pumps failed, there was a storm, the waves ate my homework, etc. When it was over, stalks of metal pipes were left in place for years.

Later on, the next idea was terracing along the bluff. Along came a storm and pieces of lumber and netting were scattered all over the island, not to mention some that ended up out in the shipping lanes. It took months for the SBPF people to pick up the remaining remnants. The best thing about that fiasco was that many islanders were able to use the lumber fixing up their own homes. I like to call it the “Robin Hood” effect.

Back they’ve come with their latest idea. Marine mattresses, rocks, anchors into the dunes and other accouterments that sound really neat, until you realize that this is more of the same hogwash they’ve been feeding us for years. This will not work in the long run, and in the short term, our beaches will undergo major surgery for nothing more than a Band-Aid. We already voted against this ridiculous idea years ago at Town Meeting.

And now, for the ongoing story “As the Nantucket Airport Turns.” By gosh those Airport Commissioners are getting tough. They had a meeting on Tuesday (after I wrote this column) to straighten out some of what they created. I’d like to call it “We’re Closing the Barn Door, Now.”

Then there’s the airport commissioner (travel agent) that sold the airport tickets to travel all over the country. They say that very little, if any money was made by the travel agent/commissioner from these sales, but that isn’t the point. Even if they lost money on the tickets, it leaves the perception of dirty dealings. I have to wonder what’s next in this affair.

People out Surfside way are plenty fried about what took place out in their neighborhood over the July 4 weekend. Too many bodies, too much alcohol and a mountain of litter left on the beach. Now, they filed a petition to see what can be done to control the situation in future years. This past year the police allowed those who were old enough to carry alcohol onto the beach.

I’m no crowd-control expert, but here’s a simple solution to the litter and over-drinking that takes place there. Since we have regulations against public drinking, have police confiscate all beer, wine and booze as people try to bring it on the beach. Have a couple of Dumpsters right there to toss the hooch into. Should large crowds congregate, that’s fine. Have a nice day on the beach and celebrate at home, or in a bar.

We have had a wet August this year. Those days when there wasn’t rain, it was beautiful. It would be nice to see the rest of this month and September is perfect. Don’t we deserve it?

In the summertime, our Board of Selectmen meets but every other week. I’ve heard complaints from some citizens about this. My take is that by having fewer meetings, there aren’t as many things they can mess up. Less is more.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

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What’s the best present anyone ever gave you? I have a good idea of something most of us would appreciate. How about a going-away present that lasts for a couple of years, is valued at almost $200,000 per, and was given to you while no one was looking. The old Airport Commission ought to hold their heads in shame. They gave our airport manager the keys to the town treasury.

Knowing that the excrement was about to hit the propeller, as it were, these five Airport Commission members signed off on a contract with the airport manager that they had to know would have been vehemently contested when two new appointed members took office. Instead, the Gang of Five deliberately overlooked numerous transgressions at the airport and signed the manager to a most lucrative contract days before two members were to depart.

So, why would the commissioners do such a thing? That’s like the old saying about dogs: “Because they can.” This smacks of the lowest, sleazy, old-boy network, cover your buddy’s behind trickery. I can’t wait to see what their explanations are, not that there are any rational ones. I’d guess that we won’t hear much and if we do, it will be the usual “all in a day’s business” kind of double-talk.

The manager has been under fire of late for (among other things) authorizing work that wasn’t bid upon first. That’s not cricket when one is spending taxpayer money. Not that the members of the commission seem to care. Minor stuff when you run a concession that is well funded and few people have taken a good, hard look at what’s truly happening behind the scenes.

I’ve always thought the airport (in general) seems to run very nicely. It’s easy to fly in and out of here and the food out there is quite tasty. That comes from a total tyro, me. Now, the internal workings look terribly askew, and worse. No expert help needed to see this dog has fleas.

When the airport manager says he’s worth more than what his total package comes to, all I hear is a huge ego, combined with, “what are you going to do about it?” Let’s wait and see what the Massachusetts attorney general’s office has to say about the airport fiefdom. Is there any way to recall the remaining commissioners? Probably too late for that, and firing the manager could cost more in a lawsuit than what he’s now receiving from the town.

After having lunch at the aforementioned airfield on Monday, I had a taxi driver pull me aside for a short tale. They said that the driving here this year is the worst ever. When I hear a taxi-driver say such a thing, it must be true. Not that any one of us couldn’t see the problem.

Merchants must be happy these past few weeks. We’ve had nice weather for the most part, though a few cloudy and rainy days must be financial godsends to downtown businesses. I overheard a couple of business owners on Main Street speaking to one another last week. It was a beautiful, sunny day. One said to the other, “not many bags out today.” My beautiful day was a slow one for these store-owners. I loved the term, though.

If you noticed the Boston Globe article on boston.com this morning concerning the Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard “rivalry,” it seemed like much ado about nothing. Not the headline, just what came after that. Sure, there’s plenty of kidding between our two islands, mainly due to the Island Cup each year. But that’s all it is. Most folks on each island don’t know the other one well enough to have true feelings about them. Then, the Globe reporter tried to bring visitors to each island into the fray. Monday must have been a slow news day in the Hub.

We’re halfway through August and I’ve yet to hear of any summer-induced psychosis, at least nothing that’s permanent. Two weeks to go for us. We might just make it. Enjoy it while you’re able.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Waterfront News

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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The Nantucket Lightship made a visit here recently. I spotted her yesterday at anchor in the chord of the bay. She made her way into the harbor and is now up near First Point on her anchor. I took my boat out today to have a look at her. She looks great!
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

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At this time of the season, we’ve all become used to vehicular traffic where people simply park where they wish to and the heck with everyone else. It’s bad enough to watch this happen in town, while drivers drop off or pick up passengers wherever and whenever they please. Mostly these are short interludes that are frustrating, but gone in a moment.

What doesn’t go away and is beyond mere frustration are the tradesmen parking on tight streets for hours on end. The worst place seems to be along Pleasant Street. A narrow roadway that barely supports a couple of cars going in opposite directions, any snag is multiplied here. In the spring, most of the offending vehicles are pick-up trucks and vans driven by carpenters, electricians and plumbers.

Once summer touches down, tradespeople begin to disappear and the new problems begin. Now, we’re seeing pick-ups dragging trailers with gardening tools behind them. These take up far more space than a car or van and being unwieldy to maneuver, almost always stick further out into traffic lanes than a single vehicle.

Festooned with weed-whackers and mowers, these obstructions sit for hours and (it appears) don’t receive tickets from the police. Every morning on Pleasant Street I have to sit and wait to get around these messes. For some unexplained reason, no parking laws are enforced and gardeners get a free pass along here.

Closing the mid-island post office doesn’t surprise me, but not for the reasons the USPS is using. The lobby is closed for an hour at the busiest time of day, it has almost no parking and accessing the place means driving through another parking lot to get there. Maybe they should leave it open just for box-holders and forget about the rest of the minimal services they provide.

The extension of the Cliff Road Bike Path keeps rolling along. Now that the telephone poles have been removed, let’s see how long it will take to finish up the final paving and fill in around the driveways and sewers. I’d like to see them prove me wrong and complete this prior to Labor Day. As it is, the path has been used at will for months now.

Our weather has picked up nicely of late. Some fog has hung around, though not enough to bother most of us. Even when days have started out looking a little funky, the sun has burned off any haze by noon and beach days have been numerous. For many of us, that’s the time to head in to do errands and pick up mail downtown. After 2 p.m. is when I start to drive in. Once or twice a week, I’ll treat myself to a scoop of ice cream while sitting on Main Street in late afternoon. It’s beautiful at that time of day.

From everything I hear most island eateries are doing great business this summer. Of course, if you don’t make it now, that’s pretty much it. There are a few places I’ve yet to sample so far. I’ll try them when the crowds thin out in September. I have avoided driving at night into the downtown area this summer.

There are many nonprofits vying for people’s donations here all season long. Most of these involve getting dressed up, paying heavily for tickets and hopefully writing large checks after drinking wine or cocktails all evening. That’s the easy way to give money.

Then, there’s the better way to give money. That means getting involved in helping raise money for a cause. It’s even better if your children learn to participate in this endeavor. The first annual Habitat for Humanity lemonade event takes place this Saturday, Aug. 6. There will be more than 30 lemonade stands spread all over the island. Please take the time to enjoy a glass and if you’d like, give a little extra.

Children and their parents will be spending time together to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity. Having worked on the Habitat house last year, I’ve seen what a wonderful job they’re doing. By participating in this event, kids aren’t spending the day sitting inside watching TV. Instead they’ll learn about giving back, a most valuable lesson.
David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Monday, August 1st, 2011

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Every summer I make it a point to cruise though the general anchorage and mooring field a few times with my boat. If you are a fan of boats like me, there is always something new and interesting to see there. I visited the anchorage and mooring field today and took note of a few old girls there.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog