A bowling alley in a busy town


To the Editor:

As a citizen of Oak Bluffs who resides in the immediate neighborhood of the proposed Bowling Alley/Event and Meeting Facility (with restaurant that serves, yes, both food and alcohol), I speak in complete support of every aspect of the project.

Having been to both lengthy public hearings held by the MVC, and living in the immediate neighborhood, I am well aware of and sympathetic to the concerns of the abutters. I am also sympathetic to the grueling process the developer, Sam Dunn, has gone through in an attempt to see this through.

Living in downtown Oak Bluffs has its plusses and minuses:

Parking – Unless you have a driveway you are subject to street parking. The good news is you are able to take a short walk to beach, groceries, restaurants, boat, shops, galleries, tennis, concerts, parks, etc. There is no need to drive and park your car unless you wish to. Parking on Circuit Avenue is an issue and will continue to be one. With unrestricted parking limits in most of the residential areas of downtown Oak Bluffs, it is possible to find a spot near your home without much difficulty.

Noise – To own or vacation in a house in downtown Oak Bluffs and expect peace and quiet in the summer is an oxymoron! Whether it is screams, cheers, and music from the local basketball and tennis courts, which are occupied from at least 7 am until 9 pm every day, sounds from the Tabernacle, baseball games in Veira Park, the occasional parade, the choir in the church, Presidential cavalcade, cars driving past with their radios at the highest decibel, sirens from police and fire, a party from the neighbors’ house, restaurant and street cleanup in the wee hours, noisy revelers on their way home at 2 am, people talking to one another on or off cell phones, planes buzzing, ferry whistles blowing, lovers fighting, lawn mowers, weed whackers, dogs barking…need I go on? This is “Busy Town” in the summer. If you live or vacation here, and decide to stick with it, this is what you get. It is all a part of the attraction to downtown Oak Bluffs.

Alcohol – There are those who are not opposed to wine and beer but opposed to hard liquor. I see no need to micromanage the alcohol license. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a family activity center that presents an opportunity to condone bowling, eating and, yes, drinking responsibly? Perhaps if kids witness the possibility of consuming an alcoholic beverage along with food, conversation, bowling, and not getting drunk they will see an alternative to binge drinking a gallon of vodka on the beach at night. I know this may seem a bit extreme, but there is a pervasive effort by some to turn any event or establishment involving alcohol in Oak Bluffs into a bacchanalian display. I believe it is indeed possible to properly manage a bowling alley with the utmost concern for all of its patrons and the surrounding community. There will be some problems because some people simply don’t behave themselves. When they figure out this is not the place to go get drunk, fall off the barstool, and fight in the parking lot, they may go elsewhere. If there are problems in the parking lot, I am certain management will handle it or the neighbors will complain. I would. The police will deal with it. That’s what we pay them for. Establishments are not arbitrarily issued a liquor license by the town. Measures are in place to govern this process. Licenses come up for renewal. It’s simple: if the proprietor does not responsibly manage their establishment with regards to alcohol they will either not be reissued a license or be shut down. It should not be up to the Commission to dictate this. Every town on this Island has already got the measures in place to do so.

Food Smells – There are those who are not opposed to food, but the smells and waste it creates. The Oak Bluffs Board of Health and health inspector are more than equipped and in place to ensure that the codes that are currently standard to mitigate these issues in any restaurant will apply here. I only hope they don’t expand their oversight to the backyard barbecues and clambakes that can be smelled with abundance in the summer by anyone who lives in the downtown area.

This is a commercial zone that has been long established for exactly this purpose: to house a business! The abutting properties were, indeed, once zoned business as well. We have an opportunity to put in place a very desirable and potentially viable year-round family-oriented business that will bring joy, employment opportunity, and economic growth to the Island.

For all of the reasons above and more, I cannot think of a better place to construct a bowling alley than smack dab in the middle of downtown Oak Bluffs. To have Sam Dunn at the helm, with his successful track record on the Island, is a bonus for us all.

In short, opponents are…”not opposed to a bowling alley,” but they oppose the noise, parking, smells, people, and everything else that comes with it, which is everything that helps make a successful bowling alley a successful bowling alley!

I encourage the Commissioners to each consider the entire population of Martha’s Vineyard, both year-round (15,000 +/-) and seasonal (115,000+/-), when making their decision on this project. This is, after all, the area this Development of Regional Impact  (DRI) would affect. It has been my observation that Mr. Dunn has bent over backwards to be more than sensitive and amenable to the concerns of the abutters, of which there are seven (7) residential and one (1) business/commercial.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope you fully support the bowling alley/restaurant as I and many other citizens of this Island do.

Christine Todd

Oak Bluffs

Ms. Todd is executive director of the Oak Bluffs Association.