MVC vote on roundabout skirts its legislative responsibility


To the Editor:

Despite widespread grassroots opposition, on October 6, at two minutes to 11 pm, after three hours of often appalling discussion, a bare majority of one vote of the MVC approved the flawed and unneeded roundabout project for the intersection of the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road with Barnes and Airport Roads. The 13 commissioners present (out of seventeen) voted in a tie, which was broken by commission chairman Chris Murphy voting in favor.

With this decision, the razor-thin 7-6 majority of the commission has thumbed its nose at all up-Islanders who must use this gateway intersection to gain access to down-Island and also helped suburbanize another piece of the Island. This from a commission specifically charged with preserving the uniqueness of this special place.

Worst of all, should this misbegotten project ever be built, it will effectively restore the two-way stop situation, which will prevent traffic coming from Barnes Road and Airport Roads from gaining easy access to the intersection during periods of high traffic. This was the unacceptable situation before the four-way stop was created some years ago. Despite the assertions of the proponents and their hired engineers, the roundabout will make the intersection less safe than it is now for all who use it, including cyclists, pedestrians, as well as vehicles.

As disappointed as many of us are with this wrong-headed decision, I offer thanks to the commissioners who saw the flaws in both the proposal and the rushed development of regional impact review to approve it, and voted against it (commissioners Jason, Smith, Rose, Sibley, Orleans, and Brown). Those who voted for it (commissioners Stephenson, Sederholm, Hancock, Joyce, Breckenridge and Hammerlund), no doubt had their reasons, but one would hope they gave thoughtful consideration to the proposal, at least as much as the cursory review allowed, rather than merely responding to political considerations or narrow legalistic arguments.

That cannot be said of commission chairman Chris Murphy who when he broke the tie vote said, “I’m voting yes to support the Oak Bluffs selectmen.” His ongoing, and unfortunate, hostility to the referral by the West Tisbury selectmen of the roundabout proposal to the MVC as a development of regional impact has been palpable. So, his vote in favor is really no surprise. At least he was honest enough to say his vote wasn’t on the merits, but was strictly political. Perhaps the roundabout, if it is built, will be named after him.

Richard Knabel


West Tisbury

In addition to asking the MV Times to publish his letter, Mr. Knabel planned to read the text into the minutes of the West Tisbury selectmen’s regular meeting on October 12.