Let’s talk about it, but let’s do it


Martha’s Vineyard Commission member Lenny Jason of Chilmark has good reason to believe that his MVC colleagues abused him and the Island critics of the Roundabout, to be built at the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road’s Blinker intersection. The history of the project describes a considerable effort on the part of the MVC staff to assist Oak Bluffs in its work with the state to develop the Roundabout plan. And, although the Roundabout falls neatly into the category of projects with regional implications, the MVC failed to identify and deal with it as such over nearly a decade.

Then, after belatedly and grudgingly acknowledging that the Roundabout plan was indeed a development of regional impact, the MVC approved the proposal by a narrow margin and only with the vote of its chairman.

When Mr. Jason first proposed that the MVC reconsider that vote, it appeared likely that the commission members would agree to Mr. Jason’s request, but once again MVC chairman Chris Murphy, also from Chilmark, cast the vote that knotted the decision, foreclosing the reconsideration effort.

Now, although the state-funded project is in train for construction, and although Island-wide opinion is neither clear nor dispositive on whether there should be a Roundabout, Mr. Jason has asked the MVC once again to change its mind. The significant and persistent public criticism of the Roundabout plan leaves open the question of whether the MVC will reconsider the proposal and also, if it did so and then withdrew its approval, whether it would make any difference.

The town of Oak Bluffs failed to recognize that such a change as the Roundabout, at such a location as the Blinker, was certainly a regional matter. The MVC, likewise, botched the whole thing, compounding its early obtuseness by the sloppy way in which it ultimately dealt with its decision making.

Nevertheless, now, reasonable observers must acknowledge three cardinal points. One, that the design of the planned Roundabout has been thoroughly hashed out over a decade, among Oak Bluffs, the MVC staff and commissioners, committed and interested members of the public, and experienced and capable engineers and designers, and it is a solid design. Two, that there is no way to credit the chief argument of opponents who charge that a Roundabout will extinguish Martha’s Vineyard’s unique beauty and “preciousness” – that plaint is wholly unpersuasive. Three, that the Roundabout, as planned, is unlikely to make the intersection less safe for motorists and bike path users, and it is likely to improve traffic flow through that intersection, especially in the thick of the high season volumes.

This page has said that it is time to move beyond this nagging issue. That suggestion didn’t take, so we amend it to say, it’s time to let it go, although Islanders and their neighbors should feel free, as they certainly will, to argue bitterly and unendingly over the issue.