To the Editor:
I wish to sound the alarm to citizens of Vineyard Haven, particularly, after viewing the massive addition behind the charming Stone Bank on Main Street, currently in construction. It totally dwarfs, overwhelms, and puts into permanent shade the modest but delightful Salvatore’s, the popular Italian bistro on Union Street.
The new owner of Educomp’s attractive, longstanding historical red brick structure gracing the head of Main Street. intends to follow suit, more than doubling the size of that original building. it will morph into a site of 20-plus condos for both relatively affluent renters and transient visitors, and lacking parking for several units. No thought is ever given to offer desperately needed housing for workers, with the occasional, perhaps, exception of hospital staff.
I have been the owner of the Sports Haven building next door to Educomp since 1978, over 40 years. Even then, the plight of the homeless led me to rent my apartments to needy tenants who required subsidization created for that specific purpose. My year-round tenants rarely if ever vacated, even when their subsidies ceased. My profit, while modest all these years, gave me the satisfaction of contributing to my community.
If this more than double in size addition to the Educomp building in the heart of our town, directly opposite the Mansion House, which, you may recall, illegally drained its own waste water into the town sewage system, overwhelming it, could occur again when rapacious desire for financial gain takes precedence over aiding the community. It is to be noticed also that other Vineyard Haven properties have been recently acquired by the same purchaser. There appears to be no consideration given to the plight of the desperate need for housing of the hardworking but less affluent workers on whom we all depend.
The already alarming recent knowledge of ever-increasing pollution of our island’s ponds, currently inadequate town sewage disposal, alarming increased use of our very limited island water supply, coupled with challenges for garbage disposal pickup and disposal, should give our town administrators and planners pause to consider the negative ramifications of unfettered growth.
Added to the above is the potential crisis of entrance and exit of this new Educomp project of 20-plus new renters and owners of rental units precisely where State Road traffic meets Main Street, and only one short block before encountering SSA and Five Corners logjams, and/or notorious floods. Add to that an already near-death experience for pedestrians, which twice now I personally experienced at that same juncture, encountering exiting cars and trucks barreling quickly out of the Educomp rear parking lot before being struck by either Main Street or State Road traffic, and as has happened to me, almost striking me, caught in the pedestrian crosswalk.
We watch in dismay as our dear little Island morphs into a rich man’s enclave of newcomers and transient visitors, with profit seemingly the prime motivation of the builders of these mammoth, intrusive structures. I fear too the lack of appreciation of these mostly newcomer buyers of the Island’s rich history, and charm of original edifices that initially attract tourists and newcomers.
Nor has been given, it appears, one ounce of consideration by these obviously affluent individual purchasers or consortiums to the ever-present plight of our worker bees, forced to endure unhealthy living conditions, cheek by jowl, or move off-Island. These outstanding issues are. coupled with the negative impact on our town’s ever increasingly vulnerable infrastructure, school system, hospital, etc. Unlike the mainland, our tiny town of Vineyard Haven and our Island possess finite space. It is imperative that year-round housing for our workers and businesses who depend on them be our first priority, not more residences for the casual visitor or second homes for those who can afford to have one. I greatly fear such is not the case. Instead our beloved island is transitioning rapidly into a mere adjunct of downtown Boston or its suburbs!