To the Editor:
Thursday, June 21, will be an important day for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), perhaps even a transformational one. That evening they are voting on rescission of the approval of a roundabout at the center of the Island.
I have talked to hundreds of Islanders, as a number of us gathered more than 3,000 signatures opposing the roundabout. Two central themes emerged from those conversations. The first was that Martha’s Vineyard is precious because it is different. It isn’t Coral Gables, or Greenwich, or Montclair, New Jersey. It is rural, which is why so many people come to visit, work, and live. A roundabout will be a signal that we are less different than we believe we are, and want to remain.
The comments come from folks who go back generations on the Island, some who can trace their lineage to the earliest settlers. They come from restaurateurs, from real estate people, from fishers and farmers, and owners of bed and breakfasts. They come from across a broad spectrum of income and political persuasion. They come from every town on the Island.
There is a second, more subtle theme. This is a chance, many say, for the commission to show that it listens to its constituents, to show that commissioners know and care what is being said at the post office and grocery store. The MVC has always had a rocky existence. Towns have argued with it frequently and have voted from time to time on whether to remain or leave. Even though commissioners are our friends and neighbors, there has always been an undercurrent of resentment that the MVC is some kind of alien body imposing its will on us from above.
A vote to rescind doesn’t mean a defeat for commissioners who at first thought the roundabout might be an improvement. It shows that the MVC does care, that it can become wiser and more in touch.
I hope the approval is rescinded, but I also hope that the roundabout marks a beginning for the commission to take a more proactive role in keeping this Island the treasure we all believe it to be.