Dukes County Ave. residents say no way one-way
Oak Bluffs residents who attended a public hearing of the town's roads and byways committee let the committee know in certain terms that they oppose making Dukes County Avenue a one-way street. The committee serves as an advisory body to the board of selectmen, which would make any decision on changes to the traffic direction.
At the March 24 session, residents voiced strident opposition to the idea. Committee chairman Duncan Ross said the committee proposed a one-way street as a possible solution to traffic issues caused by people parking, sometimes haphazardly, in front of Tony's Market, despite available spaces in a lot adjacent to the market. "It's a pretty hazardous situation to get through there," said police chief Erik Blake, who is a member of the committee. Fire chief Peter Forend also expressed concern about congestion hampering emergency vehicles that use the roadway as a direct route to several areas of town. Highway superintendent Richard Combra, Jr. said a sidewalk would also improve safety. "One-way traffic, on street parking, and a sidewalk would fit," Mr. Combra said.
The committee suggested several options for a change to one-way traffic, illustrated by large aerial pictures posted on the wall of the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room. The committee's consensus was that making Dukes County Avenue one-way from Wing Road, to Masonic Avenue was the most viable option.
Most of the approximately 25 people who attended the hearing were residents of the Dukes County Avenue neighborhood. Many were critical of the town, asking for better enforcement of parking regulations, rather than changes to the roadway.
"I don't agree that it's Tony's Market that's the problem," Clinton Avenue resident Jim Westervelt said. "It's the town's problem. Before we go to something like a one-way street, why not just make it no parking, and enforce it, year round?"
David Richardson, who owns Tony's Market, strenuously objected to the idea of banning parking on the street. "You've got to be kidding," Mr. Richardson said. "It would be totally impossible, to say nothing of what it would do to sales." He urged the committee to consider the people who shop at his market, as well as the people who live in the neighborhood. "What I hope is we will not make it difficult," Mr. Richardson said. "They are your constituents, they are my customers."
Dave Diriwachter, a resident of Vineyard Avenue, put some of the blame on the market's owners. "It's a business we like to have there, but it's a business that has run amok," Mr. Diriwachter said.
Photographer Allison Shaw, who owns a gallery in the arts district along Dukes County Avenue, objected to plans for one-way traffic, but spoke in favor of installing a sidewalk. "I can't tell you the number of people that arrive on our doorstep shell-shocked," Ms. Shaw said. "Have you ever tried to walk from the harbor? It's a very unfriendly walk."
After hearing more than a dozen people speak in opposition, Mr. Ross wrapped up the public hearing with a request. "Is there anyone here in favor," said Mr. Ross. His question was greeted with silence. "I think the committee has heard you," he said.