Island towns looking to become more walkable

The M.V.C. is hoping a grant could help build footpaths, boardwalks, and other infrastructure.

Chilmark is joining an effort to seek grant funding for improved walkability in Island neighborhoods - MV Times

Island towns are considering applying together to a Massachusetts Housing Partnership program to help make their communities more walkable.

This Tuesday, Laura Silber, the M.V. Commission’s island housing planner, secured a letter of interest from the Chilmark Select Board in attending a coming presentation from the Complete Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) program. Aquinnah and West Tisbury have already indicated interest in the presentation, scheduled for next Tuesday.

CNI, a product of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, is seeking six Massachusetts communities or regions for its Complete Neighborhoods Partnership (CNP). CNI’s website describes the partnership as “aimed at supporting the creation of walkable, livable neighborhoods near transit and mobility hubs.” 

Funding for the program seeks to provide planning expertise, and increase multifamily zoning, community engagement, district-focused investment, and subsidies toward development.

In how CNP could be adapted for rural communities, Silber said, “It can be everything from footpaths to boardwalks … support for electric bicycle chargers, bicycle paths, keeping ancient ways clear.”

She added that Cuttyhunk, which has a public walking path network as well as many poorly maintained trail easements, might be interested in joining a regional application.

Silber also stated that a regional application with all Island towns would have much better odds, and that if accepted, it would be funded at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s discretion, not at CNI’s $150,000 funding cap. 

“It could be $400,000, $500,000, $600,000, plus 30 months of technical assistance to each individual town separately, and then a synthesis of all of the plans in sort of an overview, so we can see what the combined impact is,” she said.

Silber also stated that acceptance would help Chilmark’s chances for related goals, including municipal-employee-workforce housing mechanisms, and state housing subsidies being allowed for a larger range of area median income. 

“It is my professional assessment that getting into this program will dramatically increase our opportunity to pass the necessary mechanisms that the Island needs to remain functional,” she said.


  1. Laura Silber is doing incredible things for our island. Thank you, Laura, for thinking of things holistically and kudos to you for all you DO.

  2. I have been visiting Martha’s vineyard for 55 years. I love it. But my last trip I was in shock what they did in oak bluffs. The little park that I used to sit in as a child and as an adult is gone. We would get our coffee and donuts and sit there and watch people play their guitars and talk to everybody cuz they’re so nice. Oh and feed the birds. No it is gone and I don’t like it and everyone I talk to doesn’t like it. Even widening the sidewalks I believe was a mistake I think you should leave the island the way it is. I know there’s traffic problems and maybe the rotaries would help it helped in Glastonbury Connecticut I believe but if it means destroying any history I’m not for it.

    • Unlike you, Oak Bluffs continues to evolve.
      Most of the people who arrived in the last year think it is damn near perfect.
      In 55 years they will complain that Island is not like they remember.
      Nothing stops evolution, not even nuclear, there are other planets with life.

  3. …downtown Edgartown is no longer walkable. Bicycles are now allowed downtown posing a great danger to pedestrians. This crowded pedestrian area is now also crowded with pedal bikes, electric bikes & scooters electric and not. There will be a great tragedy that will cause this situation to be addressed. Let’s first make the walkable areas we have walkable again.

    • You must new here, Edgartown has always allowed bicycles, all over town.
      And pedal bikes, electric bikes & scooters electric and not.
      And big scary trucks, not to mention busses, foreign and domestic.

  4. I’m one of the few walkers in Menemsha from Flanders Lane up the hill & down
    The cars speed bikers speed there’s very little “sidewalk space “
    From Menemsha Blues to the beach folks walk 3-4 abreast both sides sometimes
    Until the sidewalk across from the Gallery
    Begins. No enforcement doesn’t help the unfamiliar pedestrian

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