To the Editor:
For years Islanders and local organizations have struggled to balance preservation and conservation of the Island and the special way of life that we all love with the development necessary to sustain economic opportunities for residents. In our mono-crop economy, this has always been difficult, but in recent years the tipping point has gradually narrowed to an infinitesimal spike. This year — and by all anecdotal evidence, perhaps factual as well — we’ve tipped from the sustainable side to the dark side.
Many years ago a leading Island builder commented that “we don’t need one more house [if I remember correctly…it could have been car or person] on this Island in the summer,” and since then we’ve added hundreds if not thousands. Where I work many of the shoppers have commented that they simply do not shop down-Island because of the traffic and congestion, and others have compared our traffic — unfavorably — to that of New York City and Washington, D.C. Everywhere they go, whether to try to purchase some basic necessity such as sneakers or a pair of knickers (difficult) or for discretionary shopping, to the beach, to watch a sunset, to attend a concert or lecture, or just for a meal, the lines are long, the parking limited, the prices high, and the experience unsatisfactory and unpleasant.
Noise levels, particularly in summer, are another complaint. Last night road noise — even in my somewhat rural location — lasted virtually all night. Add to that loud parties, private jets, and all the other noises that daily assault our ears, and there is little wonder that folks comment that they can’t enjoy the peace and tranquility that they have paid dearly to expect.
With all the traffic created by thousands of visiting vehicles we also have a seasonal explosion of landscaping and small dump trucks. Many are towing trailers packed with equipment to manicure some piece of our lovely Island into a very un-Vineyard landscape, producing more noise plus pollution from all those little machines. All these vehicles have rendered our roads (some officially designated as failed) and byways unsafe, particularly when the drivers are driving distracted (cell phones, making up, eating), as so many do. Many bicyclists and pedestrians simply don’t use bike and shared-use paths where they exist. And the untrimmed vegetation (thoughtful, careful pruning doesn’t have to create an ugly roadscape) crowding in on some of the state-owned roads exacerbates the dangers, as it forces pedestrians and bicyclists out into the traveled way.
As many of us have written in the past (and will continue to advocate) we need to provide year-round employment along with truly affordable housing, education, and medical care for our residents. Our current course is unsustainable, and our lovely Island is becoming unsightly and unsafe.
Please give some thought to solutions, because if we haven’t killed the goose that lays the golden eggs, we have nailed its feet to the floor and are forcing unpalatable substances down its gullet.
Virginia Crowell Jones