About the Stop & Shop, a question about competition


To the Editor:

The May 9 Times coverage of Stop & Shop [Tisbury forum hears worries over Stop and Shop expansion plans, May 9] was reasoned, well-written, and happily kept to an investigatory level — sort of a Stop and Think. But even when crowds and parking are taken care of, answers may still be needed to address fundamental economic issues: competition and survival.

When Edgartown allowed this same giant, uh, grocery store, to turn existing residential property into sales space, a lot of stuff showed up on its shelves besides food. One of the questions to be asked now is: “What were the resulting changes in the town’s economic mixture? Did any shop go out of business?”

One answer to this is: “So what? It’s a free country.” But is it? The permissions usually sought in cases such as this can become gifts of substantial value. While our traditional zoning goes part of the way toward this kind of equity, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission not only can — but is in fact required to — go all the way.

With an off-Island appointment, I missed the first hearing and perhaps any assurances by the applicants that lawn furniture, goldfish, and snowmobiles will not be on sale. But we have gotten pretty good at shaping our Island’s environment and economy. We know how to ask questions; let’s ask the right ones before it is too late.

Joe Eldredge

West Tisbury