A few quick thoughts while we wait for the next big blow to hit the Island.
Beach Road reboot: Any redesign of Beach Road in Vineyard Haven that doesn’t include protection for Beach Road from inundation is a waste of taxpayer money and should be stopped. No matter what you think of the shared-use path proposal for the road, the weekend storm is just the most recent example that Beach Road is vulnerable to severe, damaging floods. That needs to be addressed before money is spent to redesign the road for bike and pedestrian traffic. Otherwise, you might as well take millions of dollars, walk to a local pier, and throw them all in the water. At least the resulting breeze could be pleasant on a summer day.
Let it go: Our next piece of advice comes from those Disney princesses, Anna and Elsa. (Aren’t you glad we got that tune frozen in your head?) Doug Liman and David Stork need to stop the madness in Squibnocket. They gave it the old college try, but clearly the town of Chilmark and the property owners of Squibnocket Farm have done just enough to make sure that their project passes muster with state agencies and the courts. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars with what amount to frivolous appeals at this point. The bridge is built, and it’s not going anywhere. Like boxer Roberto Durán, it’s long past time to say, “No más.”
But, please, Chilmark officials don’t take any victory lap on this one. You did not cover yourself in glory. A perceived conflict of interest, fighting against a building permit, and providing misleading information at public meetings all provided ammunition for Liman and Stork’s endless appeals.
Get up to speed: We’re hoping that behind the scenes, the Steamship Authority is reassessing its method of alerting commuters and travelers to ferry cancellations, because what it’s doing now isn’t working effectively. Many times, unless the weather is so extreme that most travelers have already made the decision to stay home, the alerts come after travelers have already queued up in line to board. In the most recent storm, there was the double whammy of the Steamship’s website being down for a good chunk of time. We do know the SSA is working on its computer system after the reservation snafu, and we hope that includes a backup system so the site doesn’t go down when its customers need it the most.
It also might benefit the SSA to get more involved in social media to alert its customers more quickly. Text and email alerts are fine, but these days word spreads more quickly via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Work it out: There’s a problem in Tisbury between shellfishermen and the shellfish constable Danielle Ewart. We’re not going to take sides in what seems like an explosive battle, but it’s clear that something needs to be done. It’s time for someone to take a leadership role, get both sides into a room, and come to an understanding moving forward. After all, they have to work together.
Great information: We offer a thumbs-up to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. The state agency provided excellent information ahead of the storm that turned out to be spot-on. The nor’easter packed the powerful winds and coastal flooding that MEMA alerted Island residents to ahead of time. We have one nitpick for MEMA and Eversource power outage maps, though. Tisbury is not West Tisbury. At no time during the storm was there a single home in Tisbury without electricity, according to the online maps of MEMA and Eversource. Of course, that’s news to the hundreds of people in Tisbury who spent time in the dark, trying to keep warm, and fretting about losing the contents of their refrigerators. This isn’t a new problem, and should be addressed, if not for this storm, for the next big blow.
Hardy and helpful: We end on a positive note. In New England, it’s not just lip service when the governor asks neighbors to check on their neighbors during a storm. It really happens. We were heartened to hear some of the stories of people showing up with chainsaws to clear a road, to provide a place for others to charge up electronic devices, or a place to get warm for folks who were hours without power. New England is a great place to call home.