Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

There has been a strong appeal by recent letter writers to retain the 16 transient fixed wooden dock spaces in Menemsha harbor in lieu of replacing them with concrete floating docks as proposed by the harbor master.

The proponents of this appeal claim that the concrete floating docks will “dramatically change the character of the harbor that we have strived to retain.”

I wish to point out to the voters that concrete floating docks already exist in the harbor and are installed on the West Dock and along the causeway to the West Dock. These concrete docks were installed four years ago and presently accommodate 37 boats, more than double the number being proposed for the transient dock. In addition, the wooden causeway that was destroyed in the fire two years ago was replaced with a concrete causeway and is now a permanent feature of our beautiful harbor. I do not remember any cry that the character of the harbor had been dramatically changed when these were installed.

The reason concrete floating docks were recommended include the fact that concrete floating docks are safer for the boaters as they rise and fall with the tide and keep the stern of the boat at dock level; they require less maintenance than wood, are far more fire resistant and are less expensive to install.

I encourage all voters to spend a few minutes prior to town meeting to see for themselves. Look across the harbor from the Menemsha Texaco station toward the West Dock and see if you believe the character of the harbor was changed four years ago. Drive onto the West Dock and look close up. Talk to the boaters that use these concrete floating docks and see if they want to return to the fixed wooden docks. Cast your vote as an informed voter.

Emotional sound bites (“will change the character of the harbor”) are effective, but do not always tell the full story. Please take the time to see for yourself and vote with your eyes and an understanding of why concrete floaters are the proper choice.

I believe the concrete floating docks are an improvement over the fixed wooden piers and in no way change the character of the harbor. Menemsha still retains its quaintness and beauty through following the master plan which maintains a balance of working (commercial) fishing boats and a town marina.

If the voters feel otherwise, they should also vote to appropriate funds to eliminate the 37 concrete floating docks that were installed four years ago, demolish the new concrete causeway and return them to fixed wooden structures — how foolish.

Richard E. Steves