Stop & Shop is a win-win


To the Editor:

This is a voice in support of the proposed new Stop & Shop in Vineyard Haven.

There is so much in its favor that I find the opposition bewildering.

Arriving in Vineyard Haven by ferry is a pretty dreary event. A shabby collection of buildings suggests a down-at-the-heels town. The proposed new S&S will vastly improve the town’s “gateway” (and perhaps spur investment by others) with a building that incorporates many of New England’s — and the Vineyard’s — signature features: pitched roof, dormers and a mix of Island building materials. It is a large building, but with a façade broken into bays so that it does not look like a “big box store.” To my eye, the existing, drab, flat-fronted store looks more like an early box store than the regional version proposed by local architect Chuck Sullivan.

As to height, the proposed building appears to be about the same height as the Chinese restaurant and Preservation Trust house are now. Or the police station. The replacement Preservation Trust house will even be a bit higher. If sea levels were not rising and had new floodplain regulations not been enacted, the new store would probably be lower.  But the height conforms to regulations that require all new buildings on Water Street, or those planning reconstruction, to increase height by roughly seven feet in recognition of rising sea levels.  Maciel Marine, with its office building raised up on pilings due to invading water, is the writing on the wall. How soon before restaurants, a boat yard, newspaper office, and various retail establishments along Water Street and Beach Road follow suit?

The existing S&S, which now includes the former Midnight Farm and Chinese restaurant, occupies 25,150 square feet, not 9,000 square feet (the original store) as some have alleged. So the new building will occupy only 4,200 more square feet than it does now.  Some have also compared the proposed new S&S to Cronig’s on State Road,  using the 9,000-square-foot footprint of the original S&S and not including the natural foods addition to Cronig’s.

Stop & Shop seems to be the magnet for frustration with downtown issues that are not really up to Stop & Shop to resolve. Traffic and parking, for instance. Stop & Shop is not now the cause of traffic congestion at Five Corners, nor do I think it will be if the new store is built. Five Corners is a real snag, but that appears to have much more to do with SSA traffic, and to a lesser extent with the post office and two service stations located smack in the middle of town. I don’t see heavy traffic trying to enter or leave the lot used by S&S shoppers. There are, though, a fair number of people who use Norton Street as a shortcut from Main Street to enter the SSA parking area.

As for parking, the new S&S will have 40 underground parking spaces that significantly increases what’s available in the town lot next to the store.

The benefits of the new Stop & Shop seem overwhelmingly obvious to me. A handsome S&S is an “anchor” building on the waterfront. The height acknowledges the encroaching effects of climate change. The new store adds to the available parking in town. Its increased capacity offers more full-time and seasonal employment opportunities, to say nothing of a more diverse product line the store will be able to offer. And, Stop & Shop has offered $1.1 million to the town. How great to think that some of that might stimulate ideas for decongesting Five Corners, installing sidewalks along Beach Road and upgrading the overall appearance of Five Corners.

To me, and I hope to others, it looks like a win-win situation.

Carol Gannon Salguero

West Tisbury