Veira Park plan begins MVC journey
Fresh from their narrow victory at an Oak Bluffs special town meeting last month, Vineyard Little League brought plans for a new Veira Park baseball field to the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) Monday night. The MVC will review the proposal as a development of regional impact.
In a prelude to next month's formal public hearing, the members of the MVC's Land Use Planning Committee (LUPC) scrutinized plans to renovate the park and add a second diamond. Many of the questions touched on the MVC's familiar themes of traffic, nitrogen loading, and parking.
Vineyard Little League president Sam Berlow described the plan to renovate the existing diamond, add another diamond, erect a wooden split-rail fence around the park, and create 75 to 80 off-street parking spaces.
LUPC members repeatedly asked about the effect an increase in traffic would have on the neighborhood and whether the park ought to become a single-use space.
Veira Park, where more baseball is in the cards. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Commissioners and staff members also recommended questions the proponents should be prepared to address at the public hearing scheduled for August 16.
John Breckenridge, Oak Bluffs commissioner, said that the formal presentation will need a very specific turf maintenance plan for the two fields, because Veira Park is in a nitrogen-sensitive area.
Christina Brown, Edgartown commissioner, wanted to see more-detailed plans, including three-dimensional renderings.
Paul Strauss of Oak Bluffs, Dukes County's MVC appointee, wondered about the park deed and whether it would allow for the park to become dedicated to baseball.
Chris Murphy, Chilmark commissioner, wanted to see an overview of past and present use of the park.
The most discussed issues of the evening, however, were traffic and parking. The committee asked about dangerous intersections and overflow parking during well-attended games.
Jim Miller, MVC transportation planner, then presented the LUPC with a traffic impact study of the area - with a long list of traffic and parking issues the proponents will have to address at the August meeting.
The barrage of questions was so great that LUPC members and Mr. Berlow compared notes at the end of the meeting so they could verify completeness of the understanding on each side.
In a telephone conversation with The Times on Wednesday, Mr. Berlow said, "The Commission is trying to protect the Island, and I respect that. Even though I'm in the crosshairs, I still respect the process."
But, Mr. Berlow added, "I didn't realize how complicated it was going to be - how much they want us to show based on what it is. I mean it's basically a baseball diamond and we're changing the parking."
The Little League plan has run into stiff opposition from some neighbors who oppose what they contend would be the detrimental effects from expanded use of the park. Supporters argue that it is a fine use and in keeping with tradition.
At the April annual town meeting, voters appropriated $200,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the project. The issue returned to voters following a campaign to put a request to rescind funding on the special town meeting warrant by park abutters who opposed the project.
At a special town meeting last month, Oak Bluffs voted 89-80 not to rescind town funding for the Little League proposal.