A preposterous proposal


To the Editor:

This letter is to voice our concern over the proposed new Stop & Shop supermarket complex in Vineyard Haven. The regional impact on this already troubled waterfront must be taken seriously, and the Martha’s Vineyard Commissioners be held accountable to the mission statement defining their organization: “….to help carefully manage growth so that the Vineyard’s unique environment, character, social fabric and sustainable economy are maintained as development takes place.”

Let’s look at four issues which are seriously problematic:

1. Traffic. All traffic studies in this area have unequivocally determined that it is a failed system and that the huge increased size of the proposed supermarket will make matters worse, choking our streets with more vehicles. For Stop & Shop to offer more than $1 million as compensation or mitigation is not a solution to this unacceptable situation.

2. Size. The current Stop & Shop, including prep area, the former Midnight Farm (MF), and basement stationery store, is 19,014 square feet. The retail part of the store where everyone shops is currently only 6,490 square feet. The proposed new store has a footprint of 114 feet by 237 feet and is 39 feet high at Water Street and 29 feet high at Cromwell Lane [due to the slope of the parking lot]. The total proposed size is 48,964 square feet, including the parking garage. No amount of creative measuring or legal jargon can dispute the fact that the new building is two and half times as large as the current space that they have now that stretches from Water Street to Cromwell Lane. The new proposal is a big box store totally incompatible with the Vineyard and an offense to arriving and departing passengers.

3. Economy. It is an undisputed fact that the encroachment of a mammoth size corporate chain store in the midst of a modest waterfront village will invariably compromise the economic sustainability and quality of life that we are so fortunate to enjoy. If Stop & Shop is incapable of downsizing their proposal to a model acceptable with the scale and sensibility of the Vineyard, they should look elsewhere for their development.

4. Environment. We are very concerned about the deterioration of ground and surface waters (Vineyard Haven Harbor) from toxic automobile leakage collecting in the storm water runoff from a huge roof and parking garage, and annual storms flood the area regularly due to high winds and rising tides.

For now, commissioners, please honor your mandate clearly outlined in your mission statement and deny this preposterous proposal.

Nat and Pam Benjamin

Vineyard Haven