Lowdown Behavior in Falmouth Heights

At a time when Town Meeting members are being asked yet again to dip into the pockets of residents and visitors with tax-hike proposals on the Town Meeting warrant, the crusade of a couple of members of Falmouth's best known impediment-to-progress organizations, the Falmouth Heights Maravista Improvement Association, is almost laughable in its inappropriateness.  We need more dollars, not less, and the crusade against public use of the kite park would result in less.

This group of perennial naysayers, having been thwarted in their oppressive efforts to close the Casino and BBC early, kick Smitty and his tasty hot dogs off the beach, and shut down public use of the beach parking lots after the sun sets and they determine dining and merriment should cease, have now set their sights one of the jewels of Falmouth Heights. Association member Nellie Emigh has expressed lament and exasperation over the recent approval by Selectmen of a wedding ceremony on this verdant slice of beauty on Vineyard Sound, citing an outdated 1880 deed that limited use on the site. Much like the arguments against public enjoyment of the beach and its parking lots, the Association through Ms. Emigh believes that an invisible forcefield rolls down Falmouth Heights Road and clear along the beachfront, then turns a corner up Maravista, creating a private enclave where only a chosen few can enjoy the beauty of the environs.  Most of the rest of us know how silly that notion is, but it does not deter the Association from loudly and forcefully making their wayward points anyway.

So this latest dustup between the Association and the rest of Falmouth centers on the kite field and the Selectmen's proper (legally, politically and common-sensically) assertion that since the kite field is public property, the Board of Selectmen can determine appropriate public use, in this case, permitting a wedding and allowing a bride and groom to pledge devotion and commitment before friends family and breathtaking views.

Attorney Ed Kirk must love these guys.  They keep paying him to show up at Selectmen's meetings, toss a trial balloon or two into the corner conference room, then scoot before they pop with the hot air of the Association hissing through the assembled maddening masses.  Even though he is 0-for-the 21st Century when it comes to Heights issues with the Selectmen, Attorney Kirk gets points for both persistence and resilience.

It's funny, though, that Ms. Emigh characterizes the Associations' bullying of the Falmouth Yacht club as a successful challenge - my recollection is that is was an old fashioned beat-down - and I was there.  Back ten years ago or so, The Yacht Club, bringing visitors in from near and far away to spend time and dollars in Falmouth, wanted to park cars and small sailboats on the kite field for a couple of days.  To listen to the Association members, the proposal was a challenge to civilization itself.  I remember few lively meetings where the shouting and veiled threats of election defeats that have come to define this organization resonated through the room like the Three Tenors in a phone booth.  The proposal went nowhere and the visiting dollars went elsewhere.

The reactionary behavior to this latest innocent proposal is no different.  Proposals that most local government observers determine to be innocuous, or even beneficial to our tourism-based economy, are treated as hostile and destructive by the myopic managers of this civic group.  I wrote recently that I'd love to stop writing about Selectmen Mustafa but that his bizarre behavior begs an almost weekly mention in this space.  The Falmouth Heights Maravista Improvement Association is approaching such infamous local status.  The fact that they have an ally in Mustafa, the now self-proclaimed outcast is no endorsement of their cause.

Ms. Emigh and the Association now seek to define who can use the kite park.  They would like the Selectmen to develop a policy that develops "restrictions and clarifications" on future permits.  Here's a suggestion for clarification: and an idea for wording on future permits:  "The kite park is public.  All are welcome." 

This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.

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