To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the Edgartown Planning Board.
I am writing to express my objection to the Edgartown Lofts project proposal to construct eight apartments (15 bedrooms) on top of two existing buildings in Post Office Square at the Triangle. For the record, I am an Edgartown resident with no financial ties to the Triangle businesses and my home is not located next to, or near, the proposed project site. While I am keenly aware of the housing shortage on the Island, even the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s decision made May 8 and communicated to the Planning Board states “the Commission finds the proposed development would have a neutral impact upon the supply of needed low and moderate income housing for Island residents.”
My personal concerns are based simply on what is best for maintaining the quality of Edgartown and its unique charm that is admired by so many. My sincere message to you is enough is enough!
My objections to this development project are based on the following points.
1. High density of development: The Triangle area and upper Main Street including Post Office Square have simply become overburdened by the density of development and the associated pedestrians, vehicles, and bicycles for 6 months of the year.
2. Insufficient infrastructure: Proper planning recognizes and ideally predicts when public use surpasses the available infrastructure. The signs are blatantly obvious to anyone stopping or passing through this area — and the apartments haven’t even been built. My opinion is that you declare a moratorium on further development in this area and take a leadership role in planning viable solutions that address additional infrastructure that alleviates the current chaos that greets visitors to our town.
3. Traffic congestion: During peak periods the situation in the Triangle and Post Office Square is frequently dangerous. The public safety of residents and visitors has become a real concern. Cars dodge other cars, pedestrians and bikers while jockeying for the precious few open parking spaces. The proposed apartments will generate 30-plus additional tenants — men, women and children — who will be making their home in the midst of this mess.
4. Insufficient parking plan: The Lofts proposal includes a redesigned parking lot for Post Office Square. My opinion is this plan is no better than the current parking configuration and also includes the addition of another 14 spaces on the same parking lot footprint. Adding more spaces to the same lot size does not magically solve the parking headache. Also, 16 of the available parking spaces will be designated as reserved for tenants. This implies to me that the result is more people will be vying for fewer spaces. Also, are we so gullible to think that the reserved spaces can realistically be regulated? This will be a huge problem for the tenants that were promised two spaces per apartment.
5. Uncertain future of Edgartown Lofts: The applicant continues to amend his proposal. While agreeing to not sell these rental units for a period of 10 years, he has now added the right to sell all the units together to another entity after three years. My understanding is there is nothing in place to prevent the new owner who has title to these properties under this scenario to resell them as condos. If you do not have the foresight to turn down the Edgartown Lofts proposal, please put in place the proper legal documentation to ensure that they remain rentals forever, regardless of change in ownership, to ensure that these units are available for the originally intended occupants, the Island’s year-round workforce.
6. Bad for business: One development project did not create the current problems at the Triangle. It was a series of development projects over time without proper focus on providing the supporting infrastructure mentioned earlier. People tell me more and more that they are avoiding Edgartown (just like Five Corners) during the summer and shoulder seasons because of the stress of navigating the upper part of town. I have also talked with employees at some of the businesses in the Triangle area and have not had one person tell me this proposal is good for business. I encourage you to solicit anonymous input from the businesses and listen to what they tell you.
In summary, approving this project will just be another “nail in the coffin” of further reducing the quality of what I once considered to be one of the most unique and charming New England towns. Listen closely to the public who you presumably represent. If their feedback is overwhelming against the proposal, how can you in good conscience vote for approval? I don’t believe that your mandate is to force an urban environment on a quaint town just because developers want to make a profit. Instead, rededicate your efforts in curbing development projects in the Triangle area while developing a viable plan for improving the infrastructure that is so desperately needed, thus ensuring the character of our town for residents and visitors.
Thank you for your service.