Yes and no to Stop & Shop plan


To the Editor:

I applauded the Stop & Shop with its great idea to clean, improve, and enlarge their property off Water Street in Vineyard Haven.

But, the idea to maximize to the outermost property bounds to produce a hyper-store, is another matter. In maximizing they will comply also with FEMA regulations that forces them to set the grocery display floor approximately 14 feet off the ground, starting at the Water Street side. From that floor, it is another 25 feet to the peak of the roof (almost 40 feet tall). The length of the building will be from Water Street to Cromwell Lane and 244 feet long. This will produce a massive wall.

Take some time and look at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission web site and glance through their calendar of past and recent meetings of the Stop & Shop proposals, their drawings, and the massing. It becomes abundantly more clear how the store would become a major monolithic structure and not contribute to the overall impression of a seaside town. (past event links, on October 3)

I have been at a number of these meetings where there have been inquiries as to why they can’t reduce the building mass to something more manageable and in scale with its surroundings and the Island-wide population. They have not addressed that, other than saying they had pulled the store back two feet. This, I believe, is at the old Golden Dragon frontage off Water Street.

The S&S signatures from 97 percent of the store shoppers were not given any other information than “Bigger and New.” When I was approached by Stop & Shop to sign for “Bigger and New” petitions, I asked if they had a drawing or diagrams of the building so I could see the massing compared to the town plan; they said no.

How could I sign a petition without knowing the pertinent information, other than bigger and new? As we all know, bigger is not always clear in our minds. Two feet, three feet, 100 feet, what does that look like? What the S&S is proposing is over 40,000 square feet including the garage space. That is three to four times the size of the Vineyard Haven police station for comparison. If one takes the time, you will discover that for an Island with a population of less than 17,000 winter residents and almost 100,000 seasonal visitors (two to three months) a 30,000 square foot hyper store is an over-build. In reality, not only will it be larger and twice the height of the Edgartown S&S, it may provide only 42 parking spaces not the 120-plus needed.

This parking lot should not be taken for granted. The parking lot is not the S&S parking lot. It is a convenience for them so as not to have to supply the amount of car parking necessary for the monolithic building they are proposing. The town parking lot is for multiple businesses, not exclusively for the S&S. With a hyper store, new development approach, they are proposing a mere 42 parking spaces on their property, when in reality there should be approximately 120 to 150 spaces for that size store. The town parking lot provides almost 64 spaces, which is unquestionably inadequate for the Stop & Shop to share with Main Street, Beach Street, State Road businesses or the general population frequenting the area .

How will the store or the town selectmen resolve the problems we immediately might have to deal with once this big box store is approved and built? Who will be responsible for future problems if we don’t have foresight now?

I am in favor of a new, clean, brighter, larger Stop & Shop, but not a monolithic structure that will assume the almost monopolistic usage of the taxpayers’ property (parking lot) at the expense of all other surrounding businesses.

Currently, the Tisbury selectmen assigned nine members to start the parking lot design in late October for a five- to six-week duration of time, in relation to the current Stop & Shop proposal, mainly to remove or relocate the comfort station public restroom area). MVC is still running the public hearing, and this is happening on parallel. I think this is not a good timing, unless the town is trying to pave ahead of MVC’s decision on Stop & Shop’s development proposal.

I suggest more town people get involved in this open hearing procedure to make sure we, as town residents, voice our opinion to make sure that big-scaled projects such as this — in the center of town — include more of our community voice. Yes to Stop & Shop, no to the monolithic size.

Dana Hodsdon

Vineyard Haven