Cottagers’ curveball confounds Circuit Avenue commerce

Business owner looks to broker truce after Camp Meeting Association clamps down on commercial deliveries.

The new layout of Montgomery Square no longer allows safe passage for large trucks to deliver to Circuit Avenue businesses, according to the MVCMA. —Barry Stringfellow

Citing unsafe conditions caused by large delivery trucks, the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) board of directors informed commercial leaseholders that as of June 1, no trucks larger than a standard van would be allowed to make deliveries on association roads. Central Avenue is currently used for deliveries to Linda Jean’s and other businesses on that side of Circuit Avenue.

The April 28 MVCMA letter informed commercial leaseholders of the change in policy, and gave them 30 days to make alternative delivery plans. “This could effectively shut down Linda Jean’s,” selectman Mike Santoro said at the board’s regular meeting on May 23.

“It hinders my business enormously,” Marc Hanover, owner of Linda Jean’s, told The Times last Wednesday. “I’ve been doing this for 41 years. I know the selectmen aren’t happy about it. Hopefully we’ll find an amicable resolution.”

This past Saturday, Mr. Hanover met with the MVCMA board. He told The Times that some progress was made.

“They said they want to work with me and come to some kind of compromise,” Mr. Hanover said. “We agreed to deliveries only on weekdays between 9 am and noon, and to trucks no larger than 36 feet long.”

Mr. Hanover said the restaurant was already on that delivery schedule. The only change is the delivery truck size. “My suppliers are willing to work with me, so I don’t anticipate any problems,” he said. “I’m waiting to hear from the [MVCMA] lease committee with a draft of an agreement.”

Mr. Hanover added that due to the renovation of Montgomery Square, he’s also lost 10 percent of the parking lot. “They did a beautiful job with Montgomery Square. In the meantime, I’ve lost space and had my lease raised.”


No quid pro quo

The new mandate from the MVCMA sparked discussion at the previous two selectmen’s meetings, with selectmen expressing frustration over a lack of cooperation from the MVCMA.

Mr. Santoro said the move ran contrary to past overtures from the MVCMA, which has gone before selectmen asking to form a partnership with the town. “We’ve asked them specifically if they did anything with Central Avenue, to come back and work with us, because there’s ramifications that come with that,” he said.

Selectman Brian Packish said the streetscape committee — a subcommittee of the Oak Bluffs planning board — has gone to great lengths to work with the MVCMA. “We took their input, we valued their input, we spent a lot of time on loading zones, creating more time limits, and I felt like we worked really hard to be a partner in that discussion,” he said. “I think we’ve worked hard to be a good neighbor, and we should stress that in the conversation.”

Mr. Packish also noted a lack of cooperation from the MVCMA on a streetscape proposal to create diagonal parking on the south side of Lake Avenue, across from the harbor. A section on the north side of Lake Avenue was recently converted to diagonal parking.

Chairman Kathy Burton said more quid pro quo is in order between the town and the Campground. “We’ve actually fought for CPA funds for the Campground,” she said.

In a conversation with The Times, MVCMA executive director C.J. Rivard expressed surprise that the matter was discussed at the last selectmen’s meeting without notice from the town. She said the association is eager to work with Mr. Hanover. “Everybody loves Linda Jean’s, we want to be supportive of his business,” she said. “Marc and I have had many discussions about how to work through this. It’s a matter of safety. These roads are not built for these big trucks. Over the past years, trucks have been stacked three at a time into Montgomery Square.”

Ms. Rivard said the issue is a long-simmering one. “This is not a new conversation; there have been many letters and sit-down meetings,” she said. “We had conversations at the end of last summer, and a letter was sent to the selectmen in September. No one wants to see a hardship for Marc’s business. I think half the board has breakfast there every day.”

Ms. Rivard said one option is for deliveries to be made on Circuit Avenue in the early morning, before businesses open.

“Town roads are popping at the seams,” she said. “I don’t think any town roads were built for trucks as big as the ones we’re seeing now.”

Ms. Rivard said timing of the new restriction, coming right before the busy season, was because most of the association board members are seasonal residents.