Roundabout call to arms


To the Editor:

So you thought the roundabout issue was over and done with and we could continue our lives as before. Not so. It’s a 75 percent done deal, so we found out at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) public hearing on August 4.

We (the public) gathered for the purpose of presenting evidence to the MVC as to why this should be reviewed as a development of regional impact (DRI), not to discuss the merits (safety, etc.) of the proposal. But we (the public) had to wait for about one hour while the merits (including an abbreviated video show of project) were explained to the commission. We later heard that the MVC had worked very closely, all through the preliminaries of the project, with the Oak Bluffs selectmen.

As we were there regarding the DRI, some of us had assumed that it was the MVC’s responsibility to initiate the procedure as stated in their standards and criteria checklist, Section 3.7/b. Not so. Someone (anyone, any entity) must approach the MVC and suggest that they (the MVC) explore the merits of a DRI review. So, 10 years later (that’s right, 10 years) we find out that the OB selectmen probably should have realized that this project was a DRI (ya think?) and presented this to the MVC for review.

What — they never did? We’re aghast. Now the MVC begins to defend itself. Their staff never mentioned a DRI review to anyone? At the April 20, 2011 meeting at the OB library (Mark London present), we read in full from the above checklist and the project presenters became a little nervous. They had the eyes-caught-in-the-headlights look. Our reading from the checklist wasn’t enough of a presentation for the MVC.

Shall we fast forward three-plus months (April 20 to August 4) and applaud the West Tisbury selectmen (represented by Richard Knabel and Cynthia Mitchell) plus some West Tisbury residents supporting them, for presenting (finally) the suggestions of a DRI review.

Mr. Coogan (OB selectman) stood to speak on the merits and to suggest no need for a DRI review.

There were questions regarding TIP money, etc. and Mr. London told us that if we didn’t proceed quickly there was no other project on this Island that this money could go toward. In this current economy, this is considered a wasteful project. Couldn’t this money be used for social or educational needs?

I ask, what about the West Tisbury project at the State Road/County Road fork where several very bad accidents have occurred, and that designs from the same MASS Department of Transportation have been presented and revisions are under review?

Also, if safety is such a concern why can’t funds be directed to Barnes Road, to build a much-needed bike path. A non-car project. We’ve all seen the flagged lines of young bicycle riders proceeding cautiously from the SSA (OB) up Barnes Road to the Youth Hostel.

We (the public) heard about “we must look to the future,” 20 to 30 years from now, etc. Well, I’ve lived here 30 years (year-round pop then about 10,000 — now about 15,000) and with the Land Bank preserving land, the land available for building will become less and less, so why are we catering to cars? (Some islands forbid cars. You drive on, park, ride bicycles and drive off at end of stay.) And the VTA is most valuable and more bike paths would be terrific.

I’ve just heard that the MVC did accept this project as a DRI, but I don’t hold much hope that somehow it won’t proceed.

Why am I writing? Because I don’t think that three people (OB selectmen years ago) should decide the future environment for 15,000-plus people. I’ve repeatedly suggested a non-binding referendum on each town’s ballot. Let the people decide.

I’m tired of hearing the crash (great buzz word) statistics which we all know can be manipulated to achieve a desired result. I’ve asked repeatedly for the number of bodily injury accidents pre-stop signs (say four years prior to) and compare that to bodily injury accidents post-stop signs. No one is forthcoming with that specific info.

I’m tired of the people being blatantly ignored (e.g. presenting two different petitions with a total of at least 2,500 signatures ignored).

I’m tired of Greg Coogan saying with a smile ‘I’m one of the bad selectmen that didn’t suggest a DRI review’ and evoking a bit of laughter. How arrogant, what a belittling attitude toward your constituents.

If it weren’t for Trip Barnes pointing out the difficulties and dangers of the first design of a 66-foot diameter project, we might not have a newly designed 100-foot diameter project. And, what about signage and lighting? What about the build-up of traffic more quickly at either end of the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road because cars are going 20 to 25 mph instead of stopping and proceeding. We’re told by the engineers it is insignificant, but they also never did any impact studies.

Why are we ignoring all those people who would have a great deal of difficulty entering onto the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road from their home streets because there would be no break in the flow, as was the case before with yellow blinker,

Let the people who live here decide in a democratic manner. Then, so be it.

Sandra Lippens

Oak Bluffs