Puzzled By Neighbor's Characterization Of Brant Point

Caroline Baltzer, Ph.D. •

To the editor: Dear Hank Holliday, I hate to use the papers for communicating with any neighbor of mine, but I take it you won’t mind having your letter-to-the-editor responded to in kind.

Last week you surprised your neighbors on Brant Point by inaccurately stating that in the seven years since you bought the house next-door, you’ve “become surrounded by hard-partying rentals.” Well, I’m the 4th generation in my family to live in the 100-year-old house next to you, and I can say that’s news to me. Problem is, it’s not accurate news and in this day and age, it’s the type of error which is worth correcting. Fact is we’ve never been disturbed by noise, or by any of the neighbors in any way. Up until your letter to the editor, our hamlet has been free from issues so oft written about in the Current.

In truth, none of the properties on our block have changed hands after you arrived, none were converted to rentals, and you are the newest owner. Your house was recently built in the backyard meadow of my grandparents’ former house which they regularly rented to vacationers for at least 60 years when they were not using it.

I’ve always felt Brant Point to be very “neighborly,” as my grandfather Sam Connor liked to say, so I wonder why you felt persuaded to make such erroneous claims in the papers the week before Article 60 gets voted on. You’ve never mentioned any such problems to your neighbors, nor to me when I stepped outside last December to tip my hat.

The comparison of Brant Point to your residential neighborhood in South Carolina doesn’t make sense either. Brant Point has never been a year-round residential neighborhood. Ever since the first houses were built under the Cliff around the turn of the 19th century, Brant Point has been a wonderful community of summer people --seasonal residents, their families, guests, friends and of course vacation renters-- with lots of comings and goings, since Nantucket is a great place to visit. Being an island, those of us who are lucky to have a toe-hold here enjoy opportunities offering hospitality to our visitors. My great-grandmother, Dorothy Macomber, used to say after her guests left, “Don’t change the sheets ‘til the ferry rounds the lighthouse!” (Check out the exhibit at the McCausland Gallery called, “Summer on Nantucket; a History of the Island Resort.”)

You didn’t mention in your letter to the editor that you’re a real estate developer in the hospitality industry, owning some of Charleston’s commercial hotels and restaurants. To preserve the quiet historic character you say seduced you to Nantucket, Nantucketers eschewed developing these types of large establishments, preferring instead that visitors rent private cottages. Maybe your real estate agent should have pointed this out to you before you made your investment here. Nantucket is not Fishers Island, it’s Nantucket.

So, you bought a house surrounded by long-established summer properties which have been available for rent for 30, 44, 57 and 60 years, with one of them being saved from the landfill, now lived in by perhaps the only voter on Brant Point. Renting such houses allowed many families to keep them and that’s one reason we have so many devoted seasonal families on Nantucket, seven generations deep in my case. We all love Nantucket, our neighborhoods, and our families’ houses very much so let’s let civility lead us back to being neighborly.


Caroline Baltzer, Ph.D.

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