Not the location for housing development


To the Editor:

We write in connection with your Oct. 13 article, “Over 60 Housing Units Proposed for Edgartown,” concerning a proposal, dubbed Edgartown Gardens, according to the article, to build a 90-bedroom, 164-vehicle, mixed-use, retail, hotel, restaurant, and residential complex at one of the most, if not the most, congested intersections on the Island. 

In the article, you note that one of the plan sponsors, a private equity investor and real estate developer, remarked that the sponsors are motivated by a desire to create affordable housing on the Island, and that the proposed complex “will likely have less traffic” than currently in the highly congested area. We of the Dark Woods Homeowners Association agree with the need for more Island housing; however, we believe the announced proposal is a bad idea for our Island.

The Dark Woods Homeowners Association comprises 31 homeowners whose property abuts the proposed development. Given our firsthand knowledge of the area and its traffic issues, we believe the Edgartown Gardens project should be rejected by the responsible land use agencies for several reasons including:

Adding a large, mixed-use apartment complex on Upper Main Street will turn an already highly congested area into a traffic nightmare. The claim that the proposed complex would reduce traffic is preposterous on its face. Currently, Donaroma’s and Bad Martha operate businesses on the location. Combined, there are now about 20 parking spaces in use, and neither business operates 24/7. Even when traffic is backed up in this area, our experience is that these businesses do not contribute much to the problem. But now let us consider what the proposed apartment plan includes:

  • Adding a 66-unit apartment complex with 90 total bedrooms — easily over more than 100 people living 24/7 on the property (assuming, conservatively, that just a small number of the bedrooms are occupied by two people). 
  • Building 164 parking spaces (92 residential, 72 commercial). By our count, that is about 150 more parking spaces than currently exist.

Just the numbers above show that any claim that traffic will be reduced is but a fantasy of the developers. 

The published schematic of the complex includes faulty assumptions about road access that suggest that even the developers do not believe their claims about “reduced traffic.” The plan schematic of the development shows three ingress/egress points to the property, compared with the one entrance to Donaroma Nursery currently used by its customers. These include the current entry to Donaroma/Mad Martha, an access road to the town parking lot (which in turn is connected to Dark Woods Road), and a potential new connection to Chase Road. First, one would wonder why three points of entry/exit are needed compared with one now if traffic is supposed to be less. Second, the developers have erred on including Dark Woods Road and Chase Road in their plans. Dark Woods Road is a private road. The proposed Edgartown Gardens will not be able to use it. We also doubt that the Chase Road residents, or responsible traffic planners, will think it appropriate to add traffic to a narrow residential street with several sharp turns. Net: 164 vehicles likely will have one access point to the development. Imagine the backups on Upper Main Street!

Last, while more housing is needed on the Vineyard, this is not the housing we need, nor in the location it is needed. What the Island needs is affordable housing, including low-cost apartments for seasonal workers. The Edgartown Gardens plan includes 48 market-rate apartments and only 18 low-income apartments. So let’s be clear — this complex does not address the real needs of the Island, it is just more congestion in the already congested heart of Edgartown.

Edgartown Gardens will dramatically increase traffic on Upper Main Street, and add more dense households in the heart of Edgartown — exactly what we residents and our valuable summer tourists don’t need.

Dave Manly, secretary
Dark Woods Homeowners Association