Safety and confusion


To the Editor:

I have lived on Skiff Avenue and Davis Street all my life. I have worked for the Tisbury Water Works for 18 years. I have been fortunate to have traveled to and worked in many places in our country.

Skiff Avenue has become one of the more well-traveled and dangerous streets in Vineyard Haven to navigate. Usage to avoid Edgartown Road and State Road intersection is part of the problem, but the worst scenario is the parking on Skiff, all day and all night. Parked cars force downhill traffic into the uphill traffic lane, which then forces uphill traffic into the bike lane. Downhill bike traffic is forced to use the sidewalk many times. All of these are in direct violation of Massachusetts traffic laws.

We have had numerous bike accidents due to parked cars, some resulting in serious injury to bike riders; one-car rollover due to striking a parked car; visibility at cross streets is impaired to oncoming cars due to parking too close to corners; and sharp curves in roadway, speeding, parking at fire hydrants, and parking on sidewalks. Skiff Avenue is also designated as an Emergency Evacuation route, for whatever that is worth.

The character of our family neighborhood has changed drastically to boarding/rooming houses, Causeway apartments, homes rented for short-term rentals, and company housing for employees with as many as nine to 12 occupants (in the past known as party houses) living in them. I’m not against the needed housing for workers, but there are rules to follow for good reasons. Town bylaws require permits and regulations; one in particular applies to this situation. Rooming houses, inns, and hotels must provide off-street parking for tenants.

On top of all that, based on the number of cars associated with some of the establishments and the proximity to the Lagoon and other bodies of water around town, I’d venture to say there are board of health violations as well.

Instead of wasting time sending letters about sidewalk shoveling in winter, the highway department takes great delight in reburying with plows a once-cleared walkway; they too should be made aware of the parking problems on our streets, such as parking under a “No Parking Here to Corner” sign. How much more is needed to handle these problems; ticketing, towing? I hope the select board, a.k.a. police commissioners, will move more swiftly on this matter before there are more people injured or worse because of this mess.

Yes, our Island is changing rapidly, and not for the better. When you turn a blind eye to these situations, you will lose control of all town government. No matter how unimportant you may think this is, it warrants action now and not later.


Stephen G. Dunham Sr.