To the Editor:
Having read the news about the property near Big Homers for sale for $92 million, I started musing about what has happened to our Island. The property, admittedly beautiful and a sizeable chunk of undeveloped land, is about half (according to the newspaper reports) protected by a conservation restriction which precludes development, and much of the rest must be either in the coastal overlay district or wetlands and thus also difficult to develop. Of course anyone paying that much money is richer than Croesus and can afford the privacy and exclusivity that such a piece of property will bring, but honestly, is the property worth it?
I mused some more and realized that the property is somewhat off the normal trajectory, over Vineyard Haven or Tisbury Great Pond, for commercial air traffic and the burgeoning number of annoying private jets. It is also far removed from the most heavily travelled roads, so traffic noise shouldn’t be a problem. Issues with personal water craft and other waterborne nuisances won’t be a problem because the new owner will control access to the pond. Landing craft coming ashore on South Beach during a world war (or hostile takeover) might be a problem, but that is rather farfetched.
Further musing led to a thought that someone might be willing to pay a tenth of the price, or $9.1 million, for my house and property, and that if I gave a substantial discount for cash, someone might be irresistibly tempted.
It was fun to ponder what I could buy with all that cash in hand. A substantial waterfront property on the Isle of Wight caught my eye. It was 2,500,000 GBP, or a bit under $4 million and featured an immaculately restored townhouse, a private dock and boathouse, etc. I decided to look further. A listed stone farmhouse, cottages, stables, and eight acres near Tisbury (England) could be had for 1,500,000 GBP or about $2.34 million. That was very much an equestrian paradise and was appealing, but I kept looking. The island of Jersey presents very attractive tax advantages, but there are all sorts of niggling residency requirements, such as substantial assets, before one is allowed to buy, and you have to live there 10 years before applying for residency.
In Scotland, I found just the perfect property. In far north Caithness, a coastal residential and sporting estate is listed. It has a 16-bedroom manor house, chauffeur’s cottage, another large house and all sorts of equestrian facilities, walled gardens, another six good sized houses, livestock farm, woodlands, deer and wild fowl hunting, an 18-hole golf course, an “A” listed stone harbor with a three-bedroom flat and traditional store, a diorite quarry (memo to self, what is diorite?), three burns and lochs with brown trout fishing and rights to put a boat on three other lochs, outstanding ocean views, and, sit down please, 9,350 acres. This is listed at 2,450,000 GBP or well under $4 million.
Folks, this could be the place, and if someone will make a wildly improbable offer on my house, I could be off.
Meanwhile, and back to the $92 million property, what about our Island? Aren’t we killing off the goose who lays the golden eggs? It seems that she has been eviscerated, drawn and quartered, or is that redundant? I’ve been muttering that I could purchase a castle in Ireland for far less than the cost of a modest house on Martha’s Vineyard. In actual fact any of us could purchase a good bit of Scotland and room to spare for guests, for just a fraction of what we’re being offered locally. Something is seriously wrong — ethically, morally, and economically, and we need to fix it.
Virginia Crowell Jones