To the editor: Joe Topham’s personal attack of Hillary Rayport in his letter of Feb 1, 2024 was way outside the limits of civil discourse and I’m shocked that the Current was willing to publish what I can only describe as “hate mail.”
In an era of “misinformation,” I’m compelled to set the record straight regarding the NHC’s participation in Town and State projects, specifically MassDOT Project 613129: Milestone and Polpis Road Intersection. The NHC was not notified by MassDOT, Mike Burns, Transportation Program Manager, the NP&EDC, nor Holly Backus, Nantucket Preservation Planner. The NHC’s preemptive letter of March 1, 2023 was to ensure it be able to fulfill its obligations to review and advise on the project through its stages of development.
It was not until the 1/25/24 public meeting that it was brought to Holly Backus’ attention the NHC had not been notified or consulted. In the following days she discovered that the Town Appointed consultant, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc (GPI) had mailed a notification letter dated May 30, 2023 to the NHC, addressed to Angus MacLeod, Chair, Nantucket Historical Commission, 2 Fairgrounds Road and was never brought to the Commission. January 30, 2024, was the first the Chairs of the NHC were emailed a copy of the GPI letter. The NHC will review MassDOT Project 613129: Milestone and Polpis Road Intersection, for the first time at its monthly meeting on February 16th. To say that “the proper Boards/Commissions/Advisories have been notified had two-way correspondences, and even weigh-in.” is simply not true.
To say the signage on Milestone Road “is horribly ugly” is true, and similar to the sidewalk reconfiguration and repaving of lower Main Street, the early involvement of the NHC most likely would have produced better outcomes, if it had been given the opportunity.
Hillary Rayport has not “improperly influenced members of the Commission,” nor “dominates almost every meeting,” her research, expertise, and insights have been a welcome addition to the NHC’s meetings.
In the NHC’s January meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter to the NP&EDC to reiterate its interest in having a preservation seat on their commission. To say that “the NHC Commissioner unanimously voted to write a letter supporting Ms. Abby De Molina…to have a seat on the NP&EDC.” is not true.
I will not address the many slanderous accusations. All I can say is that I am challenged to understand how any self-respecting member of our island community or civil society in general is capable of such a mean-spirited public display. I would certainly question the viability of a fellow commissioner/board member if I knew they could contemplate or worse, carry out such a venomous attack on another member of our community.
Chair, Nantucket Historical Commission (NHC)
(This is not written on behalf of the NHC)