Stop (& Shop) and think


There are people still bitter about the way the Stop & Shop renovation project in Vineyard Haven ended in May of 2014. And there are people still cheering a perceived victory against the big international corporation, although when you look at that building — the gateway to the Vineyard for many visitors — it’s hard to imagine a shallower win.

After 10 months in the Martha’s Vineyard Commission process, and hours upon hours of meetings and public comment before the commission and Tisbury town boards, Stop & Shop officials got the message that their project was doomed, and walked away from renovation plans in Vineyard Haven.

Now, it appears, they’re back. No plans have been filed, with the exception of a building permit to demolish the Caleb Prouty House at 15 Cromwell Lane, the first step in what Stop & Shop’s attorney says is a renewed effort to upgrade the Vineyard Haven supermarket.

Stop & Shop is going about this the right way. They applied for a building permit, were clear with the intent of that permit, and it’s been referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for the regional planning agency’s review. It’s the exact opposite of what occurred in the case of the Mill House, where the property owner got and received a building permit that called for “interior demolition” and the contractor bulldozed the building — parts of it dating back to before the American Revolution — without receiving express permission.

What do these two cases have in common? Despite Stop & Shop doing things the right way, it’s high time for town leaders to propose a demolition delay bylaw in Tisbury that would put a halt to everything when the word demolition comes up, and provide the proper time for review. It’s clear that the mandate that any building built before 1900 be sent to the MVC is not always being followed, so another protection is needed.

These two cases both involve houses that are clearly historic, but one was handled appropriately and the other was not.

By going about it the right way, Stop & Shop at least provides an opportunity for the Caleb Prouty House to be spared or repurposed.

This is about the Caleb Prouty House and Stop & Shop. The supermarket company has performed due diligence, and is still willing to allow the historic house to be saved. Once again, through their attorney Geoghan Coogan, Stop & Shop is willing to listen to any and all offers to preserve the Greek Revival house. So if the public really wants to preserve it, now is the time to rally the troops to raise money and have the building moved.

But it’s been five years since Stop & Shop walked away from its renovation project, and nothing has happened in that time to spare the Caleb Prouty House from the wrecking ball. So while we suspect there will be some handwringing over its demise, we doubt there will be any great effort to preserve the house.

We can’t let the history of that house stand in the way of what’s desperately needed in Vineyard Haven — an improved look and an improved shopping experience at Stop & Shop.

When Stop & Shop pulled the plug on the project in 2014, it was a strategic move. The project appeared destined for defeat at the MVC because of the opposition, which included some of the town’s leaders. At that time, we encouraged those town leaders to invite Stop & Shop to the table and find a workable design that they could get behind, and work with the company to win community support.

That hasn’t happened, but there’s still time.

Coogan said Stop & Shop intends to have a smaller footprint than the one proposed in 2014, and would likely feature a housing component, as well. A proactive board of selectmen and planning board would invite Stop & Shop to the table now to ask questions and shape the conversation before it bubbles all the way up to the surface in the form of a proposal.

The town should be doing its own planning for the waterfront, particularly Stop & Shop, which is the focal point. But It’s unproductive to hold applicants back in a planning squabble without bringing a plan to the table and being clear about what the town wants.

Let’s make hope this time around there is more effort to win consensus.


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  1. I neither cheered or came off bittered by the outcome of the Stop & Shop trying to update the VH store. I just continued to shop in a run down building which doesn’t have enough floor space to have the groceries and dry goods combined in the same space. We the people deserve better from the Stop & Shop Corp., the VH selectman board and the grand and magnificent MVC, whose position to dictate to the towns how their collective futures will be allowed has tones of the Central Committee in Moscow.

  2. Should be easy. They dont need a pharmacy there are already two in town, they dont need a bank, I believe there is all ready a couple of those. They should just copy the one they built on the harbor in Nantucket.

    • I believe there’s a floor space minimum before Citizens Bank is contractually required to set up an office.

  3. The last thing visitors want to see when they step off the boat is another plastic-coated mega-corporate superstore like Stop n Shop that teams up with other mega-corporations, like Nefarious Banks and Big Pharma. How NOT very Vineyard, and a good way to thwart tourism. Instead of vacationing on the Vineyard, for a similar price and a better view, people can visit Block Island or Nantucket, and for a better price they can go to Newport, Portsmouth, Acadia, and other beautiful waterfront communities. There’s a Stop n Shop every 20 ft. on Cape Cod and there’s a big one in Edgartown, we don’t need another Stop n Shop on this small Island! Stop n Shop is not even an American-owned corporation, why do Tisbury leaders cater to it?! How ’bout Tisbury voters say NO to Stop n Shop and let Vineyard residents rent portions of the building for locally produced foods and meals? This would bring visitors to Tisbury, instead of just Stop n Shoppers. The shoppers who drive into Tisbury want to save 35 cents on a package of Oreo’s, not peruse the art galleries. Tisbury is only well-known for it’s Stop n Shop and the Ferry Terminal. The mock-Asian restaurants on Main St tried to change this by pushing for Beer and Wine which, turns out, did nothing to improve Tisbury’s reputation. In fact, visitors were disappointed that BYOB was taken away from them, a small-town perk they used to looked forward to. Instead of going mainstream and corporate, it would benefit Tisbury if the Stop n Shop building was returned to Tisbury residents. The Stop n Shop will threaten us with oversized buildings and when they concede to smaller ones, we’ll have the illusion of winning. But, Stop n Shop is giving us a false choice – it’s not whether we want a bigger Stop n Shop or not. Our choice is: do we want a Stop n Shop in Tisbury at all? Let us vote. See how many Tisbury residents do not want a Stop n Shop at all.

    • Thrilled to hear Tisbury residents will be generous enough to pay for this urban development.

    • Ana — it’s laughable, and naive, to think Tisbury “leaders” would do anything, let alone spend one dollar, if Stop & Shop handed the store over to the town. And it’s insulting to say customers shop there to save 35 cents on Oreos. Silver spoon much?

    • Mock Asian? Saving 35 cents? Beer and Wine no improvement?
      You talk about what the visitors want to and want not to see. You and your bashing show you have no idea what you’re writing about. Stop and Shop is wanted on the island and not just for those that shop there. It’s healthy for competition and all you do is highlight your own ignorance on what people on the island and in Tisbury want.

    • There is already “another one” the one in VH that needs rebuilding, what a foolish idea of having another falling down building in the middle of town just so Cronigs can get my 35 cents on every purchase for the rest of my life, isn’t your real name Steve

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