To the Editor:
I’ve been waiting a few days to write this letter, not only to compose my thoughts, but to talk with other studio and business owners near Five Corners in Vineyard Haven. For the second year in a row, I was astonished to find that Beach Street Extension would again be closed in order to provide a venue for Sail MV’s Vineyard Cup Regatta. Although this is an exciting affair for those who participate, for those in the neighborhood it is downright inconvenient and a deterrent to businesses. It’s hard to imagine how this event was approved at this location by the Tisbury board of selectmen, twice. The overall opinion of local artisans, business managers, and employees is that Beach Street Extension was a totally inappropriate location for this event.
The Tisbury Wharf, a waterfront location with three docks, was the setting for the Sail Martha’s Vineyard Annual Seafood Buffet and Auction just a week earlier. If available, it would make a much more suitable and convenient location for the Vineyard Cup as well. Although Sail MV is a wonderful organization with much to offer sailors of all ages, I don’t see the Vineyard Cup Regatta as having a community value that warrants closing off Beach Street Extension, especially for more than three days over a busy July weekend.
Five Corners is one of our busiest and most congested intersections on the Island. Yet all of Beach Street Extension was blocked, and it seemed like the space was used mostly for evening celebrations in the large tent erected on the street. With the street closed, all parking was eliminated for more than three days, for an event that seemed to more often than not use the street space in the evening. There is space along the street for approximately 18 cars, with a two-hour limit. Over the course of the day that means space for upwards of 100 cars was not available as it normally is. With the street closed, the nearest other public parking is at Stop & Shop. I tried to park there myself. I spoke with store management and learned that they saw no increased business volume attributable to the Vineyard Cup. My experience in the parking lot there told me that it was so difficult to park in that many likely went elsewhere. The Tropical Restaurant also said that it definitely hurt their business to have no parking on Beach Street Extension available for their customers.
This annual event is primarily sponsored by Men’s Journal and the Black Dog, with the proceeds helping to fund Sail Martha’s Vineyard, a community-based organization. That’s a terrific thing, but I think the Vineyard Cup Regatta would be better placed in a location with less negative impact on a local neighborhood. I do plan to attend the selectmen’s meetings next spring to voice my opinion, and sincerely hope that the promoters and organizers of the Vineyard Cup will have the consideration to find a more suitable place to hold their event.
Sarah K. Young