Not waste

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To the Editor:

My wife and I arrived at the Steamship Authority last Thursday morning, just as the excavator took the first bite out of the weather structure being removed to make way for improvements to the parking lot. Most will agree that the structure, taking up critical space in the lot, should never have been built in the first place. But why is it the Authority can’t seem to get it right when it comes to disposing of structures it no longer finds useful?

The shelter in Vineyard Haven measured roughly 15 feet by 120 feet, or about 2,000 square feet. That is substantial useful space.

A few years ago a similar-size structure from the old golf driving range, destined for the polluting incinerator in Rochester, was taken in sections, and now stands on a farm in West Tisbury as a very useful shelter for farm equipment. It was a win/win for donor and recipient.

If I recall correctly, neither the old Vineyard Haven, nor Oak Bluffs terminal buildings were offered by the Authority before being demolished. Some needy family could be living in the Oak Bluffs building, as I write these words. Not all structures can be recycled, but when they can, and there is someone willing to take them, why waste the expense of turning them into waste?

Some Island towns have bylaws requiring that structures be offered to nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity or housing authorities before being issued a demolition permit. Let’s go one step further. Let’s pass a bylaw in every town requiring that structures be advertised in the newspaper with a photo, in instances where the nonprofits don’t want the structure. It could be as simple as a photo with caption reading: “This structure is available now for removal. It will be demolished on or about (date).”

Every manmade item on this planet is a resource to someone, and the word “waste” should be stricken from our vocabulary. The Steamship Authority and the six towns, and every business and individual on the Island, can make a difference. We’ve come a long way in the past 40 years since that first Earth Day, when the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High Schoolers collected the roadside trash, and kicked off recycling on the Island. But we are still sending too many tons of material off to the incinerator. The bumper sticker might read: “Every Item Is a Resource.” Let’s get going.

Bob Woodruff

West Tisbury