Stop and get better answers

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The idea of a new Stop & Shop with more space for variety, wider aisles, and a better parking configuration is exciting. The excitement vanishes when you realize the proposal is a renovation and expansion in the same place in Edgartown where the current store is located, with very little mention of what Stop & Shop would do to help alleviate the traffic situation.

We don’t need to belabor the drawbacks to that location. We’ve all sat in enough seasonal traffic jams at the Triangle to know that customers going in and out of Stop & Shop are among the main culprits when it comes to the bottleneck of traffic. Adding a 48 percent increase to that traffic during peak times, something that wasn’t clearly explained during the first hearing, is something that needs to be addressed. and so far, Stop & Shop and their traffic engineers haven’t done that to any satisfaction.

We think Stop & Shop understands that this isn’t the ideal site either. Otherwise, their attorney, Geoghan Coogan, wouldn’t have started his recent presentation to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission by dousing talk of putting a store out near the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

“We have two goals,” Mr. Coogan told the commissioners, “to bring an updated grocery store to Edgartown and the Island, and to fit it on the site we have.” To the comments expected about moving the store to the airport, where traffic congestion is not as much of a problem, he said, “A downtown grocery store is an anchor to your business community. It should not be relocated. The store downtown is absolutely vital to the town of Edgartown.”

While we agree that a supermarket is typically a draw, in this case it may be a deterrent to some people.

We’re sure there are Vineyard residents and visitors who eschew a trip to Edgartown because they don’t want to get caught in the crosshairs of Beach Road and Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road combining into Upper Main Street.

We were astonished to find little time spent on the issue of infrastructure. Stop & Shop is building a new bus stop for VTA bus passengers, but that’s like putting a drop of salt in the ocean. The people who use buses to go to Stop & Shop will still use them, and have better accommodations, but it’s not going to lure other people to use public transit to go grocery shopping. Moving the bus stop across the street from the store and changing the flow of traffic in and out of the adjacent bank is a plus, but it’s not enough to give a green light to this project.

It’s all well and good to encourage the use of the Peapod delivery service, but how long is that going to last? Commissioners need to look at this project as if public transportation and delivery services won’t be used, and push the company to offer other ways to mitigate the traffic issues.

Commissioner Trip Barnes asked a good question about whether a basement had been considered for the store — it had not. It seems like a reasonable way to expand the store’s square footage while easing some of the concerns about frequent deliveries to the store and the noise associated with them. It might even have an impact on how often Stop & Shop tractor-trailers have to take up space on the ferries to and from Martha’s Vineyard. That’s forward thinking we didn’t see much of at the first commission meeting on this project.

Commissioners seemed to miss the point of what’s on the minds of their constituents. And, no, it’s not why Stop & Shop is planting crabapple trees when elm trees are the tree of choice in Edgartown.

Perhaps instead of bucking the public outcry to locate a store near the airport, Stop & Shop should actually spend some time exploring that possibility. Maybe it really isn’t feasible; maybe there are drawbacks that the public isn’t aware of that can’t be overcome.

But the airport commission has talked about wanting to expand its business park, the Island could use an expanded discount supermarket with room to grow.

Isn’t that at least worth a consideration? Isn’t the commission’s role to help start that conversation? What are we missing?

It would be wise for the commission and Stop & Shop to address the elephant in the room, because right now it’s blocking traffic.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. What you are missing is that attempts by government to bully private business usually result in higher prices and inferior results (Vineyard Haven). The smart play is to get off Stop and Shop’s back and focus our energy on developing a Co Op, which will fit nicely at the airport.

  2. There are a lot of people in Edgartown who WANT their store in Edgartown, not five miles away at the airport. The Edgartown Stop & Shop is convenient. We can walk there, ride bikes there, combine it with trips to the bike, pharmacy, Granite and even coffee with the friends we see there every day. Yes, there’s traffic there for a few weeks a year…but that traffic is really not all that bad and if you compare it to what people off-island deal with every day of the year it’s nothing.
    Please keep Stop & Shop as one of the centerpieces of Edgartown Village. If we want to travel for groceries we can always take the boat and go to Market Basket.

  3. Good luck with a coop. Owned by members,insufficient equity capital,accounts receivable problems, leadership issues, members withdraw. You will never be able to buy supplies in large enough volume to allow low prices. The notion that national coops will band together to purchase in volume is nonsense. What about distribution costs? Get off Stop and Shops back and allow them their investment, then apologize for the Vineyard Haven debacle and let them build. We don’t need an MVC telling banks about roof tiles while many neighborhoods are a wasteland.

    • andrew. I agree with you to let stop & shop do their expansion. It seems they have a pretty good plan that addresses the issues. I don’t agree with you that many neighborhoods are a “wasteland”. That seems like an elitist comment to me.

  4. Quote: “We were astonished to find little time spent on the issue of infrastructure.”

    Am I missing something? Stop & Shop will increase available parking. Are residents expecting Stop & Shop to solve the entire Island’s traffic woes?

  5. Yes they are. We are a captive audience to this store considering the choices. A rehab is a handout to the community. Is it possible to just say yes, and thank you and move on.
    The letter title was mildly clever but I prefer “stop being an obstructionist”.

  6. I want the new store right where it is and where it has been since the 60’s. The answer is not moving everything out to the airport. Yes, there’s traffic. We know it and expect it. They have made efforts to make the flow of traffic a little better. Does anyone think a non traffic creating entity would replace the Stop and Shop at the upper Main Street location anyway? leave it where it is and let us have a nice store. Let’s not go the way of VH.

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