The time is now
Perhaps the moment for the road connecting State Road in Vineyard Haven with the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road has arrived. We hope so. The careful, persuasive and utterly commendable effort by the Tisbury planning board, more than a year in preparation, paid off last week with town meeting approval of a complicated plan for a new road that would, in the opinion of most observers, contribute to an easing of seasonal congestion on State Road generally, at its current intersection with the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in particular, and at Five Corners — and increase access to mass transit at the Park and Ride lot to boot. The connector road system will intersect State Road at three locations: on Evelyn Way, High Point Lane and Holmes Hole Road. There will be just one intersection with the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, near Island Food Products. Tisbury voters approved the plan last week at a special town meeting and authorized the commissioners of the board of public works to begin negotiations for easements and perhaps land required for construction.
The connector road plan has lurked within Tisbury long-range planning for nearly two decades. It figured in the long, ultimately unsuccessful battle over a proposal in the late 1980s to build a bank and supermarket on the site of the old, since razed, Nobnocket Garage. Soon, Dukes County Savings Bank will build a facility on that property. The idea for the connector, and the potential for development of the Tisbury land through which it would pass, have been difficult concepts for town planners to confront. Neighborhood hostility and voter uncertainty have dictated a cautious, slow-cook approach.
The approved road plan is a well developed concept for a route that will tend northwest from the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and divide into three entrances to State Road: at Holmes Hole Road, High Point Lane, and Evelyn Way. It will change in limited ways the residential communities that have grown in this southernmost part of town. But Tisbury needs room to enlarge, residentially and commercially, and the expansion may in the future bolster the town's real estate tax levy. If the creation of this new road system leads to the encouragement of business activity on traffic afflicted upper State Road in Tisbury, much good will be accomplished. And the same is true on the other side of Five Corners, along Beach Road, where business development has languished for years. Add bicycle paths that also connect State Road and the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, then revive bike path plans from the mid-1990s that would have connected Vineyard Haven, along the State Road, to the State Forest bike paths, and this structural improvement will have immeasurable benefits for Islanders generally and for their visitors, in addition to the rewards to be realized by Tisbury voters and taxpayers.
Voters and residents have every right to expect that this new road system, with the possibilities it presents for change and development, will be thoughtfully undertaken and carefully managed. Tisbury's planners have proven to be deliberate and determined in conceiving this plan, and they may be counted on to monitor its implementation with the same vigilance and consideration.