Letters to the Editor
Beer/wine promises no change
To the Editor:
From my restaurant, Le Grenier, I have watched Vineyard Haven for 30 years. During that time, I have paid taxes, hired Island staff, supported many school and community groups, and have stayed open year-round because I am a member of your community.
BYOB allows diners to enjoy a delicious dinner. People who say our community will change are wrong. Beer and wine is already here; it just is not regulated by the town. That means I have no insurance, and that the town does not benefit from what is already happening.
I am part of a neighborhood on Upper Main Street. A neighborhood is one where you can walk into town to have a good dinner without first driving to another town to purchase wine. There is no late dining, there is no rowdy noise, there are only adults enjoying French cuisine. It would be horrible if a walk into town met with only darkness, and if our town kept going downhill with empty storefronts. Empty storefronts increase your tax share.
There will be no bars, no liquor stores, or liquor served. Any new restaurants would have to be approved by the board of health, zoning board, sewerage commission, selectmen, and maybe the Martha's Vineyard Commission. Nothing will change. Plus ça change, plus ç'est la meme chose.
Please vote yes on Tuesday, April 15, and ensure that our town remains a good place to live and work.
Ah, if only ...
To the Editor:
Upon returning from the mainland the other day, I decided not to call my family for a ride to the end of North William Street in Vineyard Haven. It was very early evening, and I could use my shoulders for the heavy bags, keeping the bulkier one to throw at the wild turkeys that congregate in our neighborhood.
As I passed through town, I thought wistfully of a quick meal with a fine glass of wine at a restaurant that might stay open in grisly March, if only we would grant the owners the privilege of selling beer and wine with food. Instead, I trudged home, defiantly parting the army of turkeys at my driveway, then hopped into my car and headed for the Wharf Restaurant for a pinot noir to accompany my favorite salmon dish.
No benefit of beer/wine
To the Editor:
I urge the voters of Tisbury to vote no on Question 4, the beer and wine Question. Others have stated many of the reasons I recommend voting no. There is no apparent benefit to the town other than for a few restaurants at the risk of changing the character of the town. I am concerned for two other reasons.
First, adults are modeling behavior to children and adolescents that it is necessary to drink alcohol to have fun.
Secondly, voting yes to the article gives the selectmen broad authority and discretion in the governance of the licensing policies rules and regulations. (Incidentally the fee for the license is nominal.) Little thought has been given to enforcement of these regulations nor to the added burden to town safety (police department) and waterfront safety (harbormaster's department).
To the Editor:
We are going to vote no on Tisbury's Question 4 on April 15, because we believe that permitting wine and beer sales in restaurants has a better chance of having a negative effect rather than a positive one. The only positive we can think of would be from the perspective of a few restaurant owners whose profits would increase, and, while this may be desirable for them, it will not counterbalance the negative impact on the character of the town for the rest of us.
We agree that our town's commercial district can be improved, but increased profits won't cause such improvement. One would think that the business community would be organized well enough to support strongly efforts to make our town more attractive to visitors. Henry Stephenson's work concerning the waterfront, Beach Street, Veterans Park, upper Main Street and State Road come to mind, but we have not seen any organized attempt by the business community to bring that work to fruition. The ideas expressed by Nat and Pam Benjamin in their recent letter on this subject also deserve serious consideration and support.
We enjoy a glass of wine or two with our meals when we eat out. We enjoy it most when we know we will like the wine and we know that we can afford it. That happens far more often when BYOB is in effect. One of the impacts on us of allowing wine and beer sales may well be that we will eat out less and in particular eat out less in Vineyard Haven because, from our point of view, there will he no particular advantage there for us to do so.
We do not know whether passing Question 4 would be the top of the proverbial slippery slope, but we are unwilling to take the risk that we will soon end up with bars and retail sales, for that would certainly change the character of our town. Character may he difficult to define, but we do not want to see Vineyard Haven turn into another Oak Bluffs or Edgartown. We'd rather have it remain as it is.
Finally, there is a culture of enforcement in our town which suggests that the 65 percent to 35 percent ratio requirement of food to beverage will be difficult to monitor adequately. It could also be that only a slight change in the makeup of our board of selectmen might make disciplined enforcement even less likely to occur. This is another risk we are unwilling to take.
Please join us in voting no on the 15th.
Ned and Ellen Orleans
Change, but for the better
To the Editor:
Opponents of beer and wine are afraid that the character of the town will change. Change from what? When we bought the inn in 1985, we loved watching the kids line up at Burt's Barbershop on Saturday. The slippery slope is that the town will close down in winter. If you want to keep what we have, encourage shops to stay open year-round, give businesses another reason to keep their lights on and support neighborhood activities. A deserted Main Street, November to April, is not the answer for any of us.
Please keep in mind that we already have BYOB. You and your neighbors can bring what you want, and if you plan ahead, you already do. Folks who still want to BYOB will be able to do so in the restaurants that chose not to apply for a beer and wine licenses. The movie theater, along with a bookstore, pharmacy, and supermarket seem essential to maintaining a year-round town.
The town of Tisbury Beer and Wine Review Committee (Oct. 2006) wrote, "In summary, the fire, police and DPW agreed that there would be no significant impact to their departments."
Rockport went wet in 2006, and their town departments report no increase in problems related to the repeal.
Town counsel David Doneski explained that the law cannot be changed without: 1, a petition to be a town warrant article; 2, town meeting vote; 3, state approval process; 4, the governor's approval; 5, return for ballot vote. We will not have bars.
On Tuesday, April 15, between noon and 8 pm, please vote yes to "...the sale of beer and wine to patrons of restaurants with a seating capacity of not less than thirty persons to be consumed with meals only. The sale of alcohol only without meals shall be prohibited." (Warrant Article). This is an important vote. Not just for us, because we own Zephrus, but for all the residents of Tisbury.
The last issue is the money issue. Every time tourists choose Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and now Aquinnah because, as vacationing adults, they want a glass of beer or wine with dinner, Tisbury loses real money. Tisbury makes four percent of every lodging dollar. Last year, the town directly collected $152,463 in rooms tax. Give Tisbury the opportunity to make revenue without raising your taxes.
Please vote. Please read the rules and regulations so you rise above the inaccurate scare tactics. Evidence supports that nothing will change with this vote. What is already happening (BYOB) would now be regulated.
Please vote yes.
Susan and Sherman Goldstein
Doubts are baseless
To the Editor:
I write this letter concerning the beer and wine question that will appear on the April 15 ballot for the town of Tisbury.
I have lived in other communities where members of the community have struggled with similar questions and doubts raised by those who oppose the question. One was Needham, which was essentially a dry town until 2001, and now has a handful of thriving restaurants serving alcoholic beverages that residents welcome. It has not changed the basic fiber of the community. If anything it is a more vital town with a more stable business base that embraces the restaurants located there.
More recently Rockport, a community much like Tisbury, authorized the sale of alcoholic beverages. In the first two years of sales in that community, there is general consensus that the change was positive. There are in fact only 12 towns in Massachusetts, out of 351 cities and towns, that continue to be dry. Two years ago the count was fourteen. Four of the remaining 12 towns are on the Vineyard, including Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah (about to go wet). The others are Cuttyhunk (officially Gosnold) and bedroom communities such as Weston, which have little if any business community to consider.
Tisbury is a business community with many businesses that struggle for existence. I have great difficulty with those who suggest that only the business community will be served, as if that is not an important concern for the rest of us. We are all part of the community, and if there is only one butcher, baker, optometrist or limited number of restaurants that will benefit from this or any other proposal, isn't it our obligation to assist those businesses? Won't their success benefit the rest of us? It doesn't take great vision to see that the business areas of Tisbury do not have the stability and vitality (particularly in the summer) of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.
Busloads of people who land on the ferry in Tisbury are shuttled for luncheons and dinners in those towns because they cannot buy a glass of wine in Tisbury. I can't guarantee that the sale of beer and wine by restaurants will bring stability, but it should be self evident that our restaurants have a greater chance of success by being able to serve beer and wine.
Tisbury should get in step with the rest of the Commonwealth and most of the world. I urge the voters of Tisbury to vote yes for the proposal, even if you believe that the proposal will only benefit the business community. Your affirmative vote will support the proposition that we are all part of one community acting for the common good.
Howard M. Miller
Nothing to fear
To the Editor:
I'm writing to follow up on some of the letters that have appeared in the paper concerning the issue of beer and wine in Tisbury.
It saddens me and the other proponents of the issue that fear seems to be the prevalent response. Fear of change, fear of the unknown. Hey, listen, I fear change with the best of them, but here's some things you may not have considered:
Voting in favor of allowing full service restaurants with at least 30 seats to sell their patrons a glass or bottle of beer or wine will not send Tisbury to (heck) in a handbasket.
Restaurants now allow patrons to carry in whatever they want to drink, coolers of beer, bottles of wine, mixed drinks and cocktails, and after-dinner liquors. There is no real control over this. Allowing restaurants to charge for a glass of beer or wine would allow them to get that control back by checking Identification and monitoring consumption. If alcohol consumption is the issue, then wouldn't it stand to reason that one would drink less if being charged for it?
This issue has really just become a referendum on the evils of alcohol. It sort of makes me and a lot of other people angry that some elitists want to take away the rights of citizens to choose. They claim that the character of Tisbury will be affected. I'm sorry to say that Tisbury doesn't really have much of a character. Usually when you drive through a town and see "for rent" and "closed" signs and unoccupied commercial buildings, it speaks to the welcomeness and vitality of that town. Tisbury is not a town that screams "Welcome," but my point is that perhaps if more people came to town for whatever reason and spent a little money, shops and restaurants would be more likely to stay open. It would be very unlikely that the residents of Tisbury would notice any difference at all. After all, the restaurants in town are all located in business and commercial districts, not residential neighborhoods.
Lastly, another fear-based reason for opposing the issue is believing that liquor stores and bars would spring up all over. Not so. Any change like this would require legislature involvement and another ballot vote. It could never just slip by. Trust the system.
Please vote yes on Question 4 on the ballot on April 15. Support vitality and control in Tisbury, not fear.
Yes on beer/wine
To the Editor:
In consideration of whether to allow beer and wine to be served by wait staff in restaurants with seating of 30 or more, using china settings, it should be noted that Tisbury is not now a dry town.
Historically Tisbury's predominant industries have been fishing and tourism. I have been in and out of the restaurant business for 34 years, both as an owner and an employee. I can tell you every day, in season, I explain to weary travelers, "I'm so sorry we do not serve any alcoholic beverages, it's BYOB." About a one third of the time, after a customer has been greeted and seated, when they ask where they can buy a bottle to bring in, they get up and make their way to Oak Bluffs or Edgartown, taking their precious tourist dollars with them.
BYOB means customers bring all types of alcoholic beverages to accompany their meal in any Vineyard Haven restaurant. Those who are aware that our restaurants cannot sell alcohol bring in coolers full of the spirits of their choice. The town has no control over it, and the town and the people who work here don't make any money from the coolers. Beer and wine licenses would keep the town character the way we all want it to be.
At a time when the town needs more income, it would seem it is to our advantage to keep our Main Street businesses healthy and vibrant. Do not be misled to believe that voting yes on April 15 will open the door to bars and package stores. This cannot happen, according to the language of this article.
It is also a mistake to believe our harbor will change and become honky-tonk and raucous. There is currently no ban on any flow of alcohol on the yachts moored in our harbor.
Please be clear about our town as it realistically exists. Vote yes to beer and wine.
Restaurants need beer/wine sales
To the Editor:
I have had or been involved with four restaurants on Martha's Vineyard over the course of 32 years (Martha's Cheeses, Feasts the Food Store, Feasts in Chilmark, and The Oyster Bar in Oak Bluffs) and can tell you from personal experience that trying to make a living in the restaurant business without wine and beer sales is nearly impossible. It truly is as Laura Barbera said in her letter last week "a public service."
It is a killer business, once you have the menu in place, make the orders, place the orders, receive the food, put away the food, prep the food, serve the food, and clean up after service, you are done in. And when you realize you've done all this to basically cover your costs and pay the rent or your mortgage, it's a very depressing reality. The profit margin in this business is extremely slim; you have to really love what you're doing and the people you're doing it for.
I know most of the hardworking restaurateurs in Tisbury, and I know that given these economic realities, they must be hanging on by a thread. If the good people of Tisbury vote no to wine and beer, there soon won't be anywhere decent to eat in town before the movies or after you've gotten in late on the boat. (The Black Dog probably survives on T-shirt sales.)
Possibly the perception is that drunks will be spilling out of Tisbury's restaurants. Really? Let's think about that for a minute. How many of you enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner? Do you stumble out drunk afterwards? Do I smell a whiff of hypocrisy and NIMBYism? If you stop to think about it, is it really any different from the BYOB policy now in place? If granted a license, I think the restaurant owners in Tisbury will work very, very hard to keep an O.B.-like scenario from happening. Remember, it's only for restaurants with 30-plus seats, and wine and beer sales will be limited to table service with food only. They're not going to be serving hard alcohol, and package stores will not be springing up on Church and Main. The "gabled buildings and views of the harbor" will not be sullied by allowing your neighbor to have a glass of wine with dinner.
Why do you think the "succession of t-shirt shops" succeeds where the grocery, dry goods, and hardware shops did not? A matter of simple economics. Take a good long look at Main Street now. The t-shirt shops will continue to crowd out the small businesses and restaurants because t-shirts are a non-perishable commodity with the potential for a huge mark-up. Is this what you want for Tisbury? Or would you rather have decent restaurants that attract new business to the town and keep the bookstores, home goods, and clothing stores alive?
When I was 26 and Carol Dodd hired me to be the chef at Martha's Cheeses in Edgartown (now Alchemy), we struggled to make it. Then we applied for and were granted a liquor license. All hell did not break loose, but we slowly started making money, she was able to afford a house, and we were able to renovate the building and build a business. It was a win-win situation for us and the town.
So, on April 15, please vote yes on question four. Nine-year-old children will still be able to go downtown at night for an ice cream cone, sagebrush will not be rolling down the street at 9 pm on a summer night, and maybe the aforementioned restaurateurs will actually be able to keep the lights on, make a decent living for all their hard work, and continue to feed and entertain Vineyarders and tourists alike.
Remember, they repealed Prohibition because it didn't work.
V. Jaime Hamlin
Thanks for the Bee
To the Editor:
I would like to thank you and the staff of the Martha's Vineyard Times for your continued support of the All-Island Spelling Bee. Each year you support the promotion of these champion spellers and enable the students to feel proud of their accomplishment. You provide excellent coverage of the Spelling Bee, and your monetary support makes it possible for this event to continue at its present level.
Your efforts are greatly appreciated. On behalf of the students, teachers, and staff, I extend a deep, heartfelt thank you and best wishes.
James H. Weiss
Superintendent of Schools
P.S. Talk about stress!
To the Editor:
This letter was sent to Michael Dutton, town administrator of Oak Bluffs, and to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
I was shocked to read in The Martha's Vineyard Times (3/20/08) of the decision to eliminate lifeguards at Oak Bluffs beaches for summer 2008. Our beaches are perhaps the most heavily used on the Island, by summer and year-round residents alike, particularly families with young children.
Elimination of lifeguards will seriously endanger all those who use these beaches, a group that includes not only Oak Bluffs taxpayers, but also seasonal visitors and residents from all over the Island who come to our beaches to swim and relax.
During the summer months Martha's Vineyard is a resort island. Shouldn't the town not only welcome those who come to patronize businesses in town, but also protect those who wish to enjoy our beaches?
I have been a summer resident of Oak Bluffs for over 50 years, and I am a daily swimmer at town beaches. I am also a taxpayer 12 months a year, on an Island where I spend 2 to 3 months annually, and like other summer residents my tax dollars are an important part of the town's tax base. Our safety and enjoyment of the beach should be an important part of the town's concerns as well.
What is the budgetary process that led to these proposed cuts? Isn't there a public safety issue involved? What was your rationale for coming up with this decision? Where is the transparency in why these cuts are necessary? How was it decided to cut these services as opposed to others?
And while we are loathe in America and on the Vineyard to acknowledge the elephant in the middle of the beach, what role does race play in this decision? Is it only chance that lifeguards are to be eliminated at the beaches in Oak Bluffs predominantly used by African Americans?
These are not rhetorical questions, but ones that demand answers. I look forward to a prompt response. I ask you to reconsider your decision to eliminate lifeguards and rethink the decision to cut funds for a seasonal position at the hoard of health and for the town tennis program.
Saw the stars
To the Editor,
It was dark last Saturday night between 8 and 9 pm, dark enough that a person standing on Circuit Ave in the middle of the business district in Oak Bluffs could look up in the night sky and clearly see the stars.
Thank you, Vineyarders, for participating so enthusiastically in Lights Out Martha's Vineyard and being part of Earth Hour, an international energy conservation event. Thanks to all the individuals, families, organizations, places of worship, schools, towns, and businesses that joined in and "turned out" to make this such a successful energy conservation event!
Nan Doty, Marnie Stanton, Gail Tipton and Dean Bragonier
Keep Vineyard Haven safe
To the Editor:
If you care about keeping Vineyard Haven a safe and enjoyable small town, you will urge your subscribers to vote against the upcoming proposal to allow legal sales of wine and beer in our town.
We realize that certain merchants get away with selling these items in their own way. That means that if the proposed legal selling with restrictions should go through, they very probably soon would get away with selling stronger drink and get around the restrictions. Do we need another Circuit Avenue in Vineyard Haven?
A committee has been formed to advise citizens about this situation. It is known as Citizens for a Dry Town and can be contacted at 508-693-5935. The important thing is to be sure to get out to vote and to urge others to do the same.
Jane A. Wilbur
Tough duty, done well
To the Letter:
I have been a resident of Chappaquiddick for nearly 15 years. In all of that time there has never been a single moment that I felt anything other than complete confidence in the capabilities of our Chappy ferry captains. The trip from one side of the harbor to the other may seem short and yes, that might be true. However, it is a trip that takes the skill of an experienced captain to ensure safe passage.
Whether that trip is taking place in the frenzy of a heavily trafficked summer harbor or the during the fierce winter storms that we weather in the off season, we drive our cars on and off of the "On Time" ferries knowing that we are safe in our passage. Our captains are clear with the expectations of all who drive on or who are foot passengers. I would be a rich person if I had a dime over the past 15 years for each time I heard a captain tell a driver, "Turn off your engine."
I read the article written in The Times last week, and I am very glad that Mrs. McClean and her passengers were safe after that experience. However, Mrs. McClean states that, "She has been on the ferry before and knows the routine." If that it true, then why contradict herself in the next paragraph where she comments that "the car was in neutral, and she simply forgot to put it in park. She said the captain did not instruct her to do otherwise, and she did not turn off her engine."
It was appropriate that Brad Fligor received the accolades that he did during that harrowing experience. Brad, along with the rest of our full-time captains, Bobby, Charlie and Walter, as well as our new owner, Peter Wells, always put their passengers' safety first. We are lucky to have all of them. Thanks guys for everything. We don't tell you that nearly enough.
Donna, Bob, Lucy and Caleb Enos
To the Editor:
With the summer soon to arrive, the new owner of the Chappy Ferry may want to get a sign printed. It should read:
1. Pull forward, and place the car in park.
2. Turn off engine
3. Take hands off the wheel, and don't pretend you're driving the ferry.
Just a suggestion.
Andover and Edgartown
Fix the parking
To the Editor:
I offer advice to any candidate who may want to unseat the incumbent selectman in Vineyard Haven: base your platform upon changing the parking layout in town to make more efficient use of available space.
Cape Wind report flawed
To the Editor:
I attended the Cape Wind meeting on March 12 at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. A Cape Wind member gave us an outline on how the project was going to work, including the decommissioning of the project when that time comes. The Cape Wind spokesman said everything they bring to Horseshoe Shoal would be removed. That would include the 80-plus barges of rocks the plan said they would be bringing to strengthen the bases of the turbine structures.
Correct me if I am wrong, as people spoke for and against the project, an opponent said he found in the Cape Wind plan, when it came to decommissioning the turbines, all they are required to do is cut the bases off six feet or more from the bottom of the ocean floor. That would leave all the barges of stone and 130 clumps of hazardous steel protruding out of the ocean floor, at 60 feet to 15 feet. Therefore mobile gear fishing (dragging) will never be able to take place on historic dragging ground for squid, sea bass, scup, fluke, flounder and other species.
Their shellfish assessment is so far from the truth. This along with whether the decommissioning is really going to happen makes me believe that the whole report and survey of Horseshoe Shoal are totally flawed. Especially flawed is the assertion that the total impact to all commercial fishermen would be $15 million total. One commercial fisherman will lose that alone. Is Cape Wind really worried about our atmosphere? If so, they must have solar panels on their houses and a hybrid car in the garage. I doubt it.
A harvest of wind and fish
To the Editor:
Well, bully for Save Our Sound, thinking that the series of public hearings in Boston, on Cape Cod, and on the Islands were a victory for their side. I attended the meeting at the high school - late - and was amazed and discouraged by fisherman after fisherman speaking in broad, unspecific terms how the wind farm would destroy the fishery on Horseshoe Shoal - despite the facts to the contrary. I left the meeting after six such speakers in a row.
I stopped in the lobby to talk with one of the MMS staffers. I asked whether the format of these public hearings was the best way to get the facts out there regarding this project. He told me that this was just their job: to gather public opinion. If people brought up good arguments about the project, that would help shape policy. If people just talked without backing their opinions with facts, well, their opinions would be written down, but it wouldn't change anyone's mind.
He told me he had grown up in a shrimping family along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. He said the shrimpers had had to deal with the oil platforms for as long as anyone cared to remember. The shrimpers dragged for their shrimp, and the oil rigs pumped their oil.
This is my vision of the wind farm. Once it's built, the wind farm will harvest energy, and the fishermen will go back to harvesting their fish and shellfish.
Invitation to the "circle of knowledge"
To the Editor:
April 13 to 19 is National Library Week, a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries, librarians, and library workers in schools, campuses, and communities nationwide - and the perfect time to discover how you can join the circle of knowledge at your library.
Library use is up nationwide among all types of library users, continuing a decade-long trend, and it's easy to see why. Libraries are places where everyone can go to discover the world. With free resources such as books, magazines, DVDs, and computer and wifi access, libraries help people find new jobs, do better in school, tackle projects, and learn new ways to improve their health.
Every day, libraries in big cities and small towns, in colleges and universities, in schools and in businesses help transform their communities. At our library, people of all backgrounds can come together for community meetings, lectures and programs, or to do research with the assistance of a trained professional.
What can you discover? National Library Week is the perfect time to find out. Join your family, friends and community. Join the circle of knowledge at your library.
Oak Bluffs Public Library
Postpone arts articles
To the Editor:
In late 2007, the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School announced the need to reduce expenditures in the face of projected declines in enrollment. Intended cuts would take effect 2008-09 and would focus in part on staff and classes in the performing arts department. The administration's reasoning behind these specific cuts was explained solely in terms of enrollment trends in selected classes, trends that revealed comparatively small and declining student participation. Despite significant community concern for the future of the department, this "by the numbers" approach to fiscal management continued to be the position of the principal and the school superintendent to justify program changes, now and going forward.
In view of this development, a community group came together with the goal of generating a one-year, stop-gap fund to: a) preserve the existing performing arts budget lines for the coming academic calendar, and b) use the interim time to develop proposals for how the department can be more vitally integrated into a four-year educational track and be more appealing and relevant to a broader group of students.
To this end, petitions were developed and distributed proposing articles be added to the warrants of each of the six towns in support of this interim funding.
Several months have passed since the cuts were first announced. This past week, the high school administration has shared the principles of its long-term vision for the role of performing arts in their curriculum, a vision that emphasizes the importance and value of performance study to the larger high school educational experience and to a wider portion of the student body.
The administration plans a continuing, evolving, and valued performing arts offering that is more than tangential to required courses and is integrated as part of a more enriched study of all the arts. This revised approach will also serve to increase enrollments and participation in performing arts, addressing the initial concern of class size and participation.
The administration's plan is welcomed and applauded by the community group leading the effort behind these articles, and indeed by all who have shared our concern on this issue.
In light of the administration's long-term vision and their stated commitment to excellence in performing arts, we are confident that the department will be an ongoing, integral and important part of the school's fundamental program in preparing our students for college and beyond. With faith in the administration's commitment, we have therefore respectfully suggested to the towns that the financial articles as submitted be postponed indefinitely.
Rick and Val Estabrook
For the BravEncore and Minnesingers Parent Group Subcommittee
Paths, yes, this one, no
To the Editor:
I am writing to ask my neighbors in the town of West Tisbury to vote no at the town meeting on Tuesday, April 8, on the articles pertaining to the construction of a walking path along Old County Road.
Ordinarily, I am in favor of walking paths and sidewalks, and I am not opposed to paving or even the removal of a tree or two to make a good path. I support the hard work of West Tisbury's Paths Beside the Roads Committee for the paths along State Road, which help nearby residents, students and customers of the businesses along the way, and along the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road leading into town. Both they are along stretches of road where the speed limit for the most part is 35 mph, and traffic is naturally slowed by curves or hills in the road.
However, I believe the proposed path along Old County Road is unsafe and serves little useful purpose, not even for recreational walking. Half of the funding, $80,000, for this path was voted in at last year's town meeting. But that article was one of the last on the warrant, at a time when most of us were ready to go home. Only a few comments were made for or against, and so I believe it was approved without adequate debate. It came as a surprise to me, as a homeowner on Great Plains Road and a usually fairly informed citizen. A Paths Committee member described it as a path planned for the east side of the road for kids who live on Great Plains, Oak, Otis Bassett, and Skiffs Lane to walk or ride bikes to school, or for those residents to more easily check their mail boxes along the road.
The path will not serve either purpose well. It is too far for most kids on those roads to walk or even ride bikes to school. For instance it is over 2.5 miles from my house to the school. And now that the Paths Committee is recommending moving the path to the west side of the road, it won't help with mail pick up, either.
But the bigger concern is safety. That section of Old County Road is a flat straightaway, and even though the speed limit is 40mph, many drive 50 mph, maybe even a little faster. The path will be the same width as the other West Tisbury paths, four feet wide. If this path is set as close to the road as the ones in North Tisbury and along the Edgartown Road, imagine what might happen to a distracted child walking or riding alone, or trying to pass someone going the other way on the path. And if it is sited on the west side of the road, anyone from the east side of the road, where most of the population in that neighborhood lives, including all those kids who might walk or ride to school, will have to cross 40 to 50 mph traffic to reach it. And the proposed path ends near the corner of Old County and State Road, which must be one of the more dangerous intersections on the Island.
There are many paths in my neighborhood, both dirt paths through the woods and paved paths in the State Forest, plenty of opportunity for recreational walking. My neighborhood is also a very peaceful one, with little business or other activities where this new path might lead. The only positive position I heard for the path along County Road is that some walkers do not feel safe in secluded areas or prefer to walk where passersby might see them if they fell or needed assistance. But it would hardly be pleasant to walk so close to 50 mph traffic.
For those who may think that it sounds like I approve of paved paths so long as they are not in my neighborhood, let me say that I would wholeheartedly approve of an eight to 10 foot wide bicycle path along the east side of Old County Road meeting up with the existing bike path, set safely off the road. But a bicycle path is not what is proposed.
This may seem a minor matter with more pressing issues for the town to face. But I ask that my West Tisbury neighbors to vote no, both to moving the path to the west side of the road and to the remaining $80,000 funding needed for this project. Then perhaps the original $80,000 could be reallocated to plan a roadside path in a location that makes more sense.
Making it happen
To the Editor:
Recent coverage about the Bradley Square development's presentation to the Martha's Vineyard Commission made it very clear that a variety of interests and organizations are involved in, and supportive of, this Oak Bluffs project It is very clear that Bradley Square will bring together, in one creative mix, affordable housing, market-rate housing, offices, historical preservation of the Rev. Denniston's Church, galleries, and art studios, It is quite clear that the project, should it continue and reach final development, will be an exciting place to be - diverse, interesting, welcoming. Very Oak Bluffs.
When something like this happens, I always wonder, "Where is the leadership coming from, to weave these people and interests together into an economically viable enterprise that does more than fill an investor's pocket?" My guess is that if you talk to talk to people involved, from the NAACP, the Historical Society, Habitat for Humanity, the Island Housing Trust, the Community Preservation Committee, the Arts District, state and local finding sources, they will all give you the same answer: "Ron DiOrio got us together to make this happen."