Too big

Too big

by -

To the Editor:

First, go down to the Tisbury Stop & Shop and look at the height pole set up for us all to see. This took them over three months to erect after numerous promises. Now imagine that height extending from Water Street to Cromwell Lane. Then from the parking lot along Water Street to the south side of the Chinese restaurant building. The perspective from up close or from the SSA is dauntingly overwhelming.

Second, the farce about the memorandum the Tisbury selectmen signed is that Ahold and S&S New England profits every year in the hundreds of millions. What is $1.165 million spread out over ten years compared to the hundreds of millions in profit they are making? It’s $116,500 a year. In that sum, where are the real items of town necessities addressed.

The traffic solution? A single traffic officer costs more than 30 grand a year. Two are going to be needed. Third, seriously look at the impacts that unbiased professionals have informed us, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), the selectmen, and with articles in the newspaper. These are not S&S paid contractors.

Fourth, when dealing with the selectmen, MVC officials and others, who have voices of authority, their speech is not always the full truth. Many times their voices exaggerate and/or manipulate facts. Get the information and form your own opinions, not ones that are being spoon-fed. This information is free and available online. Fifth, the S&S could have gone directly to the MVC, skipping over the town mitigation. But in doing so the S&S would have had to get approval afterwards from the town of Tisbury, to have all their entrances onto what is conceptually private property (municipal parking lot). As of today there are no easements or licenses from the town of Tisbury to the S&S allowing for this trespassing.

Here are things to inform yourselves on:

1. The incredible mass of over 48,964 sq. ft. mass.

2. The loss of downtown green space.

3. The possible loss of the historic Prouty House.

4. Traffic flows off and on season in downtown V.H. and Water Street.

5. No pedestrian safeguards alongside the proposed store.

6. The Coastal Flood Zone.

7. Monopolizing the town parking lot to the disadvantage of the Main Street retailers and we Islanders to pick up friends and family from the SA Ferry.

8.Tractor trailer trucks in and out of the town parking lot (private property).

This is a huge project and uninformed people should speak out once they have investigated the facts. I believe there is a need for a new store, but not maxed out from 16,000 sq. ft. to 48,000 sq. ft.

The Island citizens need to know that this 48,000 sq. ft. project is an off-Island style mall experience and not one that can be architecturally correct for the Island or villages of M.V.

Dana Hodsdon

Vineyard Haven


  1. 8. Tractor trailer trucks already use the town parking lot to unload at Stop & Shop. The improvement is trucks will switch from parking parallel to the roadway between Main and Water streets where they interfere with traffic and make walking dangerous for pedestrians to parking completely on store property and conveniently also out of sight.

    7. Stop & Shop does not monopolize the town parking lot. I doubt many looking for a parking place care that there is a grocery store there. Most people go to grocery stores play to buy, not browse. Most (I presume) head home immediately after making their purchases, freeing up the parking place for another. If anything, parking should be reserved for Stop & Shop customers, they are guaranteed business. As a bonus, Stop & Shop will add parking.

    6. The new Stop & Shop will join the raised MV Marina building as the only two prepared against flooding.

    5. Quote: “No pedestrian safeguards alongside the proposed store.” Seriously? There still will be sidewalk along Water Street and a sidewalk will be added between Main and Water streets where currently there is none. Do you want metal safety railings? I’m sure that would be attractive.

    4. Fix five corners, or at least make an honest effort, and stop blaming Stop & Shop for all the businesses and the ferry terminal that have been in Vineyard Haven for decades.

    3. The Prouty House, which nobody seems to have cared about until now, will be moved. I’d be willing to wager there won’t be financial backers to restore it and it will be razed anyway.

    2. Quote: “The loss of downtown green space.” I guess you mean those two back yards no one can see beyond the yard adjacent the scenic car rental lot.

    1. Translating island character into a zoning plan is unsustainable unless something hard and fast is put down on paper, even as a starting point. One might specify a particular building style, color scheme, setbacks, etc. In absence of that, this is a business distract, most structures are two stories plus roof, to the property line, and exterior details suggesting a private residence. This design fits.

    1. The Steamship monopolizes the town parking lot for pick up and drop offs. It’s US that use that lot.

      The height of the pole is because of the flood maps which are dictating building height in the area. All future reconstruction projects have to be this height.

      It’s really an attractive building compared to the crap that’s there now.

      This is just another rant by Mr. Hodsden, nothing more.

      1. I almost never use the town lot for picking up and dropping off at the boat because it’s almost always full, and when it’s not full I can find a space in the official dropoff places on Water Street or up above in the dropoff lot next to the terminal building. But that’s just another anecdote, not real evidence. SFAIK no study has ever been done to determine where the cars come from that are parked in the town lot, or for what purpose(s) they’re parked there. It seems fair to say that a goodly number are there to shop for groceries, and that a bigger store with more groceries at lower prices (like it or not, a bigger store is more cost-efficient for the owner) will attract more shoppers.

        1. Since you throw out non facts since you’ve admitted you’re not really sure, thank you for that btw, all to often people try to speak from experience and they have non. I would surmise that a larger store would mean longer shopping periods to get those groceries therefor still having no spots to park in. You already said there are no spots to park in when you go pick up so I would assume those same taken spots would remain, taken.

    2. I don’t like making comments while hiding behind an anonymous alias.

      8. “Tractor trailer trucks already use the town parking lot.” That does not make it right. And they’ll have to close off public parking spaces to make their turns. With a smaller footprint they could make their turns on their own property.

      7. “Stop & Shop does not monopolize the town parking lot.” Agreed, that’s an overstatement. But I don’t see shopping carts going to cars parked anywhere else. And I’m sure S&S is not the only business whose employees do the parking lot shuffle all day, moving their car to a new spot in the lot to avoid a ticket. All businesses in the area should give their employees incentives to use the VTA.

      6. The coastal flood zone will require the SSA terminal building to be rebuilt. That’s an opportunity, not a problem: see (4).

      5. The sidewalk on Norton Lane is an improvement that was impossible before. Where will the bike racks go, which MVC has requested? Will there be crosswalks for customers exiting the store to the lot?

      4. “Fix 5 corners.” Right. That can’t be fixed as long as SSA vehicle traffic comes out of Water Street. The SSA will have to rebuild the terminal building and slips. This is not a problem, it’s an opportunity to shift vehicle traffic down harbor. Build a wharf the other side of Packer’s tanks for vehicle staging and a slip. The cars from the ferry don’t stay around after they make it out through 5 corners, so moving them down harbor is no loss to VH businesses. Foot passengers will still come in at the present location, and pedestrian traffic will be just as likely, if not more likely, to walk up into town.

      3. From conversations I heard after the last MVC hearing it sounds like people are stepping forward to make sure the Prouty House will be taken care of. We’ll see. I wouldn’t write it off.

      2. Green space. Well, there should be more trees in the town lot, as the MVC recommended, but the Selectmen at that time preferred wall to wall asphalt. That would do a lot to enhance the welcome to Martha’s Vineyard.

      1. “Incredible mass of over 48,964 sq. ft.” Yes, this could mean “mass” as a metaphor of the sheer size of a big box store, however disguised by diverse façades. On that interpretation, yes, it’s hard to specify “Island character” in a zoning plan, and yes, town zoning bylaws need more work of that kind and damn the torpedoes of those minority (I hope) who defend their property rights irrespective of what is for the common good. But mass also means that which is attracted toward the center of the earth, and it behooves us to bear in mind that this is on inherently unstable filled land with a water table about 4 feet down.

      Here’s a possible future. MVC turns S&S down. S&S sells the property to a developer who puts up a fancy restaurant in the Midnight Farm building. The S&S building is razed and replaced by a parking garage but instead of a big building facing the harbor the roof of the garage is a big open deck with tables for diners looking out over the water. Maybe S&S builds a big store out by the airport, where the hospital should have gone.

      1. A parking garage? You believe a parking garage would be more attractive than the Stop & Shop design?

        8. What time to Stop & Shop’s trucks arrive now? It won’t be any different.

        7. You’re blaming Stop & Shop for bad banners by the shoppers. And if businesses wish to keep their employees from doing the “parking lot shuffle all day,” let them provide parking on their property. By the way, did you know Stop & Shop is adding 42 parking places?

        6. The coastal flood zone will be a problem when sufficient flooding damages stores and goods to the point they cannot reopen. Likely, SSA won’t be forced to rebuild as much, plus they are more likely to get FEMA funding than local shops because they are essential transportation.

        5. The Vineyard claim the right to things that aren’t there now, the sidewalk, crosswalk, and bike racks. Really? Islanders should stop being so cheap, get off their backsides and pay for it themselves.

        4. Yes, fix five corners. And fix the triangle in Edgartown, the foot of Circuit Avenue, and the intersection of State and Edgartown roads. And all on the initiative of the residents of the island. But I forgot, lines of traffic are island character.

        3. From my experience with people, the Prouty House will be kindling. Just be sure there isn’t a dime taken from public coffers.

        2. How many trees are in the town lot now? Again, you claim as a right something you don’t have. Or are you trying to provide job opportunities when leaves must be raked, limbs pruned, and trees cut down because they’ve outgrown their allotted space?

        1. It seems by the words of some islanders that zoning laws need refinement, that any change be dependent on a popular vote by those same islanders whether a project should pass the review process. A “friends and family” zoning plan. That’s what you really want, right?

        Back to that parking garage. You proved appearance is not an issue for you, this is a personal thing against Stop & Shop.

        As for my posting anonymously, I have learned over the years there are some people who cannot be trusted. You wished financial misfortune on others in your comment. Between that and your “need” to know my identity, I am certain you are one of those people who cannot be trusted.

        1. I said I don’t like to make comments behind an anonymous alias. That’s my preference for my conduct. You concluded that I was criticizing you.

          “As for my posting anonymously, … some people … cannot be trusted. You are basing your wishes for the future on financial misfortune for others… and calling it opportunity. Between that and your need to know my identity, I am certain you are one of those people who cannot be trusted.”

          Wow. That’s an awful lot to conclude from scant evidence. Since you don’t trust me as a person, how about we keep personal characteristics out of this and let documented facts speak for themselves.

          “A parking garage? You believe a parking garage would be more attractive than the Stop & Shop design?”

          No. I accept that anything fronted on Water Street needs to be elevated above empty space because of the flood plain zoning requirement. That means either unused empty space or some sensible use for it, such as a parking garage.

          “Back to that parking garage. You proved appearance is not an issue for you, this is a personal thing against Stop & Shop.”

          Another conclusion about me that is not supported by what I said.

          8. “What time to Stop & Shop’s trucks arrive now? It won’t be any different.”

          S&S’s promises about timing are in their offers documented on the MVC website. But the point is not timing. With a smaller footprint, they could get to their loading dock on their own property, as they do in Edgartown and in virtually every other store they own. The present plan requires public parking spaces to be coned off to allow them to swing into the loading bay.

          7. “You’re blaming Stop & Shop for bad banners by the shoppers.”

          No, actually I’m talking about evidence as to where S&S shoppers park their cars. I’m not complaining about shopping carts being left around. “did you know Stop & Shop is adding 42 parking places?” Yes. I’ve read the relevant documents and reviewed the published plans.

          6. We agree that SSA will have to rebuild. The point is about thoughtful planning per item (4).

          5. Bike racks are part of S&S traffic mitigation offers. Crosswalks on a town road are ordinarily a town responsibility.

          “The Vineyard claim the right to things that aren’t there now”.

          Well, yes, we are talking about improvements to a run-down part of town.

          4. “Yes, fix five corners [etc.]”

          Easy to say. How do you propose that we should fix these traffic problems? I’ve made a proposal–actually, I’ve just reiterated a proposal that has been made by others many times over the years. Any comment on that?

          3. We disagree about people’s character and about the prospects of the Prouty House. (That’s just a factual statement that we disagree, by the way, not a criticism or a slur.)

          2. “you claim as a right something you don’t have.”

          No, I referred to a recommendation that was made for improvement to a public space that is owned by the citizens of Tisbury and is among the first sights of people coming off the boat. But again, yes, we are talking about improvements to a run-down part of town.

          1. I’m just as uncertain as you are as to what Mr. Hodson meant by “mass”. And I have no off-the-shelf answers about zoning. It’s not an easy problem.

          1. Mentioning that I post anonymously was deliberate on your part and had no bearing on the conversation. Conclusion: you’re not worth the effort.

          2. Referring to that I post anonymously was deliberate on you part. It also had no bearing on the conversation. You can’t un-ring the bell. Now you deny it was deliberate. You said it accidentally? Another bell you can’t un-ring. This conversation is over.

          3. Yes, I can see how it had that effect because it was a reply to your comment. My bad. It was poorly communicated. At the time of writing two anonymous aliases were right before my eyes, Adult_content and friendofthewife, and many others are evident in these comment pages. That’s what I had in mind, but it did come across as a personal attack. I apologize for that.

          4. Apology accepted.

            Yes, I understand how you presented a parking garage as a nightmarish alternative solution to the parking problem. My apologies for misunderstanding you. A bit of dark humor, I thought to myself a few times a garage would greatly reduce the parking problem but I’m sure we agree that would NOT be island character.

          5. So … what to do with the empty space under raised-up buildings? Leave it open, as at Maciel’s? That’s a new feature in the landscape, hitherto seen only under wharves & such.

          6. I’m not sure what will happen when flooding occurs too frequently. Maybe Water Street would be rebuilt on stilts, like an amusement park pier along the Jersey coast or Brighton Beach. Maybe fill for the entire waterfront. Then there’s all of Beach Road, elevate or it’s usable only during low tide.

            I forecast less than a 10-foot elevation will have a problem (see 1951 map, easier than FEMA site):

          7. The current flood zone map pretty much agrees with you:

            Any new construction, and maybe any fixing up of old structures, will require putting buildings up on stilts all along Water Street, Lagoon Pond Road, and Beach Road down to the bridge. The flood plain elevation at Water Street is 11 ft. (see the section drawings on p. 16. of the S&S illustrations at,%20Renderings,%20Sections%20-%20January?id=5056).

            Maybe that up-on-stilts appearance will be the new normal for ‘Island character’. But I can’t imagine Islanders letting that space gape there unused. Since we’re stuck with it, we’re bound to use it for something. Personally, I’d rather see cars there than piles of construction timbers or rolls of cable or whatever else might be stored there, given the parking squeeze. Cars can be moved out of the way when a storm is coming.