Location is in heart of the town

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To the Editor:

Thirty years ago, at a town meeting, Tisbury voters decided to protect the Manter Well site due to the vital role it plays in providing our town with water. If there were no other option for a place to build our school, then it might be sensible to cut down hundreds of old growth trees, and place a facility for hundreds of waste-generating humans on that property. However, there is another option. The current site of the school, its historic location, is in the center, the heart, of our community, just as children are the heart of a family. Do we really want a heart transplant?

Both of my children attended the Tisbury School, and both of them still reside on Martha’s Vineyard. Two of my grandchildren currently attend the Tisbury School. They love their school. They also love their home, which, since it is the home of designers and builders, is often going through some form of construction improvement. Both of my grandchildren are involved in that construction. It is part of their education.

Though keeping the school at the current site will involve construction over a two-year period, which means noise, it also means the excitement of watching the changes and transformations that most of the students will get to enjoy as they move toward eighth grade graduation. They will have the ownership and excitement of knowing that just by being there, they were part of it. And honestly, I have never known noise to bother children. They are usually generators of noise themselves.

Yes, it would be two years of needing to accommodate a lot of changes. How the adults use that as a teaching opportunity will determine what the students experience. In these cultural times, I think there is no more valuable lesson than teaching children how to accommodate and respond to changing conditions that are less than ideal. A positive attitude, accompanied by core support, can be extremely strengthening and productive. And do we really want to teach them, by the example of our decisions, that short-term personal comfort overrides long-term stewardship of our environment?

I also question the safety of the location. The turn off State Road onto Holmes Hole Road there strikes me as dangerous. Up-Island traffic coming up the hill at that deep curve in the road from one side, and the busy workday traffic at the Park and Ride on the other side, seems like a poor choice of location. Add to that the increase in parents who will now have to drive their children to the more distant school, along with school buses: I can imagine a traffic nightmare that will only get worse over the 50 years the school would be there.

Whether it takes the form of an entirely new school on that site, or a renovation of the current school with an addition, I vote strongly to keep the school at the heart of our town, and to protect the virgin land of the Manter Well site.

 

Fae Kontje-Gibbs

Vineyard Haven