Concerned about Navigator Homes project

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To the Editor: 

In 1975, my grandfather, Roger DeFeo, went to Martha’s Vineyard with his older brother to find an ideal place to build family homes. Together, they found two pieces of property on Bayberry Lane, now known as Teaberry Lane.

Being two sons of Italian immigrants from Revere, they didn’t grow up going to the Vineyard, but had a vision of providing a place for their families to enjoy for years to come. They chose Teaberry Lane because it was close enough to the three big town centers, but was set far enough back from Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road where you could enjoy peace and quiet in the dense Edgartown forest.

My grandfather passed away before I was born, but I was lucky enough to get to live out his dream of spending summers on the Vineyard every year growing up with my family in the house he built. The house has since turned into an almost year-round home for my family. With that said, our family is extremely concerned about the proposed construction of a new nursing home facility at 490 Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Navigator Elder Homes.

The project proposes the construction of eight housing buildings in an extremely quiet, wooded residential area, and directly abuts many homes on Teaberry Lane and Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. The proposed project would irreversibly negatively affect the geographic and societal landscape of the area that many of the local residents have invested their time, money and spirits in across many familial generations.

The proposed project would i) cause the destruction of at least eight acres of previously untouched forest (at least according to their current proposal), ii) cause the Edgartown sewer system to take on an estimated 20,000 extra gallons of daily flow, causing the town to undertake a costly comprehensive wastewater management plan, iii) add at least 130 residents (not including daily staff who don’t live onsite) to an area just a mile away from the most traffic-congested area of the Island at the intersection of Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road and Beach Road; and iv) forever alter the island’s longstanding hesitancy to allow commercial projects outside of its three big towns, a change that can never be undone. 

If this project were to proceed, and in the coming decades this nursing home is underpopulated and underperforming like the current Windemere, what will become of these buildings and their ecological footprint? The environmental and societal damage could not easily be reversed.

More time should be spent exploring alternative options and determining whether this project truly is a need rather than a want, given the great environmental impact it would cause on an Island much more susceptible to climate change and overpopulation side effects. 

The hospital has stated that it’s not viable to renovate Windemere, but by teaming up with Navigator Elder Homes, part of the nationwide “Green House Project,” Navigator has the infrastructure in place to build anew, so of course it wouldn’t renovate existing buildings, it’s not part of the business model.

The hospital needs to explain its relationship with Navigator, and why it are the best choice for this project that will greatly impact the community. Furthermore, the hospital has stated that 40 to 50 percent of the beds at the nursing home will be occupied by private payer patients, but how many of the current elders on the Island would be able to afford these services, which is the demographic the hospital has said this project is intended to serve?

I would urge the members of the community and the town officials to consider these points and to think critically about the issues this proposal will cause for Edgartown and the island as a whole, and whether this proposal truly solves the problems it claims to be addressing, and whether the proposal would truly be a net positive or negative for the island in 10, 20, and 30 years from now.

The next zoning board hearing is Dec. 14.

Devon Pope
Edgartown