Commuters a consequence of housing gap


To the Editor:

I would like to ask the The Times to follow up on two issues related to and touched upon by Barry Stringfellow in his reporting on the Vineyard housing shortage (Feb. 19, “Martha’s Vineyard housing shortage reaches critical mass”).

A little over halfway through the article, he cites an example of a tenant who was evicted from her rental for having asked the landlord to address a mold issue in the rental unit. I’d be willing to bet the landlord’s initial response to her complaint was on the order of: “Leave then. I can find plenty of people only too happy to rent the space the way it is.” She is not alone. The Island property owners include a growing element of slumlords, who see the housing crisis as an excuse to not maintain their properties to some reasonable level of livability. The Island needs some sort of oversight of rental properties to address this growing problem without jeopardizing the rental status of existing tenants.

Later in the article, Heather Goodwin is quoted as saying, “There’s not going to be anyone around to do the work that the rich people want done.” Ms. Goodwin is not entirely accurate; there will always be a workforce to service the Island, but it is becoming increasingly imported.

I myself, after 44 years on the Vineyard, moved to North Falmouth just over a year ago for financial reasons, while still maintaining a cabinet business on the Island. The 6 am and 7 am boats to the Vineyard and the afternoon boats back to the mainland are now nearly as crowded as summer boats, with not just tradesmen, but hospital staff, lawyers, a dentist, children commuting to the Charter School, pretty much every demographic you can name, and many, if not most of them, are former Vineyard residents.

All of them scramble for parking accommodations on both sides. Many have to park at the Palmer Avenue lot in Falmouth, adding as much as a half-hour to their commute, and/or the Park and Ride on the Island, adding another 15 to 20 minutes. As the commuter population swells, it’s high time planning authorities on the Vineyard and those associated with the Steamship Authority realize they need to provide adequate parking accommodation on both sides. There is still, for example, the Boch lot in Vineyard Haven, and I hope that the issue is being addressed in the new terminal design in Woods Hole.

I’ll put the question to Marc Hanover, Island SSA member, at the March 10 public meeting with boatline officials, as well as the ridiculous current commuter-ticket policy.

Not addressing commuters’ needs will only make the service class both more scarce and more expensive.

James L. Young

North Falmouth