Please approve the fishing pier

Please approve the fishing pier

To the Editor:

Most readers of these pages will by now be aware that a public fishing pier has been proposed to be located in Oak Bluffs between the Steamship pier and the Oak Bluffs harbor jetty. This is a fabulous idea, especially as a place to take kids, as there is currently nothing like it on the entire Island. The success of the proposal will be determined by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission at their public meeting on October 7, and if you would like to see the pier built it’s important to tell the commission that you support it, either by mail, email, or in person at the meeting. Please note that it is not the location of the pier that is under consideration. The issue is whether or not to build the pier at the proposed site which was selected after three years of analyzing all factors.

I sent the following letter to the commission.

I am writing on behalf of the many, many Island residents and visitors who are familiar with the pure pleasure of wetting a line in the hopes of catching a fish, on behalf of every little kid who is fascinated by the ocean and its inhabitants and may develop a lifelong passion, and on behalf of every grandparent whose greatest enjoyment is spending what’s known as quality time with his or her grandchildren, especially in a teaching situation.

The Island of Martha’s Vineyard and the town of Oak Bluffs have been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a fully funded fishing pier built by the state on the Oak Bluffs waterfront. This pier will have handicap access and will be in close proximity to public restrooms. All maintenance on this pier will be paid for and handled by the state. There is currently nothing like this on the entire Island, an Island that rightfully takes every opportunity to boast about its great fishing tradition and culture.

The pier will be an easy spot to get to, where parents and grandparents can safely bring young children; it will be a fishing destination that kids can ride their bikes to; it will be a place that residents and visitors in town can walk to and fish safely, without the need for waders, expensive casting equipment, or a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a beach sticker. The pier will be just a short walk from where the numbers 7, 9, and 13 buses stop.

Please approve this pier. We’ve never had an opportunity like this before and most likely never will again. Please don’t allow a (predictable) very small group of “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) people to derail what will be an extraordinary asset to the Island as a whole and to Oak Bluffs in particular. The particular location for this pier was not chosen randomly. The Steamship Authority has made it clear that because the fast ferry comes in and out of the east side of the SSA pier they cannot allow the fishing pier on the east side. The west side already has public restrooms in place and the nature of the embankment on the west side will allow for wheel-chair access, while other locations farther to the east will not.

The NIMBY people have presented all the usual concerns — traffic, parking, noise, and unruly gatherings. The fact is these arguments are specious. The few houses that exist nearby have private parking, either driveways or garages. The pier will be within sight of the police station so any problems with noise or unruly gatherings would be handled quickly.

In Oak Bluffs we have a park, Veira Park, with a baseball field and lights for night baseball, right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. If this park were the topic of the current debate there’s no doubt we’d be hearing all the same NIMBY arguments, concerns about traffic, parking, noise, and unruly gatherings. Yet Veira Park, with its Little League field, has existed in its residential neighborhood for years with few or no problems, and look how many lives it has enriched, especially young kids and their families. Veira Park is an asset to the community.

One could point to the Tabernacle in the Camp Grounds, surely in the middle of a residential area, where concerts are held at night, and many other events take place, all attracting far larger crowds than the proposed fishing pier will. Imagine the protestations if the current debate were whether or not to build the Tabernacle, yet the Tabernacle and its neighborhood have co-existed forever and look what an asset it is to the town of Oak Bluffs and to the Island in general. Ocean Park is yet one more example of a public gathering spot that is surrounded by residences and that few would deem problematic. It too is an asset to the town and to the Island.

The proposed fishing pier will fill a glaring void on this Island of such great fishing tradition and interest and the opportunity to build it, fully paid for and maintained by the state, will never come again. Like Veira Park, the Tabernacle, and Ocean Park, it will peacefully coexist with its neighborhood and will be a true asset to the town and to the island. Please approve this pier.

Robert JacobsOak Bluffs

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