Roundabout ballot, but what’s the point?


To the Editor:

The roundabout referendums — what will their results mean? As I understand it, the question being put forth is, “Should there be a roundabout at the intersection of Barnes and Vineyard Haven–Edgartown Road?” I see this question being a little problematic if one is trying to get the sense of the people as to what they would prefer to see at this intersection. The question might be appropriate if the roundabout is one of two options being proposed. In reality, I have been reading and hearing people debating over four different options, as follows: 1) Build a roundabout; 2) Install a full, four-way traffic signal; 3) Leave it as a four-way stop; and 4) Return it to the previous “blinker” status — a two-way stop on Barnes Road.

I could see a scenario where the referendums could fail, but, in reality, the roundabout is the preferred solution of the people. What if 40 percent of the people want the roundabout, 30 percent want a full traffic signal, 25 percent want the 4-way stop, and 5 percent want to return to the old blinker? The referendum results would show the roundabout failing at the ballot by 60-40 percent; however, it would actually be the choice of a plurality of the people.

Of course, this is all conjecture. And, that is the problem. All we would know by the vote, in this case, is that a majority of the people don’t want a roundabout. We will not be able to definitively know what the people do want. Each party to the matter will be left to their own interpretation of the results, which will probably mirror their own preexisting opinion.

Perhaps it’s all a moot point anyway. If it’s true as I read that the Massachusetts DOT intends to advertise for bids on April 7, before any town will have its referendum vote, it would seem we are proceeding down an inevitable path. The other thing I am sure of — that Islanders have an ability to adapt to whatever is built — but will love to debate the matter for the next 50 years.

Bruce Stone