Why the sign?

“WTF” roadside signs catch the attention of Islanders.

The "WTF" sign in protest to the Tradewinds fence. — Brian Dowd

Updated August 13

Dogwalkers and trail walkers alike have been voicing their concern in the wake of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank’s decision to build a fence around the Trade Winds Field Preserve, known to many as Tradewinds.

Phil Cordella, one of 377 members of the Facebook page “Tradewind,” took matters into his own hands and designed provocative signs with “WTF Why The Fence? Friends of Tradewinds” in bold white letters on a black background.

“It’s part of a campaign to raise public awareness about Tradewinds and the decision by the Land Bank to build a 2.5-mile-long fence,” Cordella said.

Cordella chose the acronym for its eye-catching qualities. When asked if he thought using the WTF acronym was a good idea, Cordella said he’s not the first one to use it, citing comedian Marc Maron’s podcast.

In addition to the signs, Cordella is offering stickers and T shirts. He’ll deliver them, too — all free of charge.

Cordella is involved with wtfmv.org, a website dedicated to documenting Land Bank meetings and the history of the fence construction.

One of the Land Bank’s reasons for putting up the fence was to protect rare flora and fauna from dogs and people, but Cordella feels that isn’t a fair reason. “You can’t welcome plants and not people,” he said.

Not everyone is in favor of the signs. Cordella said he’s been physically threatened, been told to have a “horrible life,” and that the signs are “vulgar.”

“I just think that the WTF signs are crude and immature. Very un-Island-like,” Edgartown resident Jay Woods told The Times in a Facebook message.

Despite opposition, Cordella says he’s seen a “groundswelling of support,” especially from the Tradewinds Facebook page. He gave away 100 of the WTF T shirts in five days. “We’re out of shirts, and have a list when we reorder,” he said.

Beth O’Connor, a member of the tradewinds Facebook group, told The Times in an email she supported Cordella and the signs. “My husband and I stand firmly behind the efforts of the Friends of Tradewinds to bring attention to the restrictions placed upon the M.V. community by the Land Bank in regards to the use of the Tradewinds property as a meeting place and exercise area for both two-legged and four-legged friends. The ‘Why the Fence’ signs are meant to call attention to the fact that attempts to date to appeal to the Land Bank for some sort of compromise have fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

Updated to add quote from Beth O’Connor. — Ed.


  1. This sign/T-shirt, etc. makes me a little uncomfortable (kind of like the guy in OB who is wearing apparently his favorite T-shirt that simply says “F*** You” — does he have lots of friends?). Yes, it’ll be very popular in college dorms. But whose minds are being changed? What dialogue is happening? Let the OB Selectmen or their appointee sit down with the Land Bank or their appointee and work this out like, um, civilized adults.

  2. Hey, if you guys followed the rules, they wouldnt have put a fence up. They gave you a chance but you blew it. Besides, it’s not your land so stop crying and take down those stupid signs

  3. What a group of entitled babies these people are.Accept the new reality that is a direct result of your poor behavior.

  4. Funny, at the Land Bank Commission meeting last week, they actually complimented the marketing directly saying it was clever and eye catching. It’s 3 letters of the alphabet. Nothing vulgar about it.

    • Nonsense. We all know what the initial response is to WTF. It’s not the kind of image we should be promoting in our town. These signs are also illegal and need to be taken down.

  5. As already stated Several times over the `years` – police yourselves, they did everything to convince you to comply and be responsible dog owners and people. They even hired somebody to walk around there
    politely explaining why you must obey the rules. Each time you told everybody right where to go.
    So go back to your safe homes and I bet you pick your rug rats messes up in your yards and keep them off your best furniture. Well who knows probably not.
    Suck it up buttercups and stop ruining our island with all your entitled BS -WTF? (Why The Fuss)

  6. The signs are offensive, petty, and juvenile. And behavior like that proves why the land bank needed to take the action it did. Act like a child and don’t be surprised to be treated like one.

    • Right on! These people and their dogs trampled this area for decades. Can’t believe the Land Bank didn’t take this action years ago.

  7. How many people would be talking about the Land Bank in August on Martha’s Vineyard if it weren’t for the sign?

  8. The latest one I heard was when the US invaded IRAQ it was WTF-OVR. Pretty interesting I would say.
    “Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot” military term.

  9. Too many people. I had my dog when there was half as many homes as we have now. The dogs have to take a back seat to accomodate the increase.

  10. I love the signs! Very creative and certainly got my attention … We are now using the phrase “Why the Fence?!” when expressing disbelief IRL situations

  11. There are parks all over OB plenty unused and why choose one park that has been a landing strip for years. Have one fenced, with proper dog disposal. I suggest a gas lamp that takes the waste and turns it into usable fuel. I suggest take a look at the dedicated dog parks in Hollywood California right downtown, you can google map it.. They are clean respectful and placed in convenient locations. As for the promoters of signs, they continue to be a day late and a $ short. The signs are flying off the shelves and the fence is not moving. Hence, a suggestion, just get another dog park on all the towns other lands . And look a little further into the 45 million that was placed in a haphazard manner to build that drawbridge that hardly draws anyone to its attraction since I walked around the other day and felt like I was the 20th person to touch the brand new handrail that was covered in overgrowth. This Island can use a true safety assessment when it comes to these park attractions, let alone to bike from town to town without risking your FAMILIES LIVES

  12. Have you read our proposal Truxton? Easy to find it on our wrfmv.org. website. Maybe you’ll see Why The Fuss? Would love to hear more about fuel. Sounds intriguing.

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