A Couple’s Dilemma

Barry Berman •

To the editor: After more than 40 years, my wife, Peggy, is ready to call it quits.

I never saw it coming. Maybe just a little bit. I’ve heard her complaints, but never thought it would come to this. The bloom is off the rose. The love affair is over. And, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t blame her. It isn’t what it used to be.

There is no talk of lawyers yet, though one prominent attorney is clearly on her side.

Gone are the dreams of the two of us--one working on a local newspaper, the other a radio station.

But now, we both feel unwanted.

Wistfully, we share the memories of Danny taking his first steps on Jetties Beach, learning to ride a bike on Grove Lane, making new friends, and taking his first stroll downtown by himself.

Of course, I’m talking about the prospect of leaving Nantucket and our island home since 1984 when we moved from staying in guest houses at $32 a night to buying a house, scraping together enough money to own a small slice of heaven.

To help with costs, like many homeowners, we have rented our home to vacationers.

But, we’ve had so many good times. We loved walking downtown on cobblestones, stopping in for a milkshake at the Pharmacy, a tuna sub at Henry’s, having Mimi recommend just the perfect read at Mitchell's, or picking up a picture hook at Hardy’s.

On the way, we kibbitzed with our great neighbors Mrs. Wilson and Mr. and Mrs. Worth, then Joe at the Club Car, Don at DeMarco’s, picking up a paper at the Hub and sometimes catching a glimpse of Madaket Millie on the bench outside. We bought our bikes from Mr. Young, who always smiled and joked.

And of course, the glorious beaches.

Nantucket, our neighbors and friends, has been our magical home. Off-island troubles blow out to sea. In Nantucket, we find peace and kinship.

Sadly, the unwelcome mat is now at our doorstep. People like us, fortunate to have a little piece of the rock, may be forced to leave because they need to rent their homes from time to time to help pay the bills.

We are told renters have babies that cry, that second homeowners who need to rent their homes shouldn’t be here, and that we are “commercializing Nantucket’s residential neighborhoods.” This, in spite of such rentals being an island tradition that goes back generations.

We don’t do this to make a living. We bought our home because we love it and the island. By the way, second homes are already assessed at a higher property tax rate than year-round residences.

It’s distressful to hear and read the discourse, hostility, and misinformation used to disparage second homeowners who rent to vacationers. We have been supporting the Nantucket economy for decades, shopping at the grocer and the farms, getting cars repaired at Don Allen’s, buying milk at Cumberland, grills at Marine Home Center, swordfish at 167, half a tuna on rye at Something Natural. Not to mention paying the plumbers, electricians, carpenters, house cleaners, landscapers, caretakers, and painters who help keep the place up.

Nantucket was always welcoming. But, now, we are either looked at as unwanted intruders or the opposite, some unseen big brother corporations attempting to ruin the comforts of the billionaire class.

If there are predatory conglomerates buying up homes to disguise them as mini-hotels, then let’s stop them. But, don’t toss the baby out with the Nantucket Harbor bath water.

Second homeowners love this island as much as any year-rounder.

What we wistfully lament is the Nantucket when the love for our faraway island was a common denominator, when we watched our son, years ago, kiss the ground when we arrived. Now we’re told, “We don’t want you here.”

Here’s my plea. Please support Article 59 and understand that we, too, want to maintain the character, hospitality, and traditions that have endured for centuries. We and most people who rent to vacationers are not “investor-owned, commercial short-term renters” as the opponents of Article 59 allege.

You can stop future corporate ownership by supporting Article 60. We are doing our best to keep our homes through a tradition that has been long part of the Nantucket fabric. Let’s not destroy your longtime neighbors’ presence here by making Nantucket a place only for the super-rich.

Barry Berman
North Liberty Street

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