There’s nothing easy about running a small business on the Vineyard. With the high season lasting fewer than a hundred days, a late spring or a rainy weekend can easily turn a slim profit to a loss.
When work got under way this winter at the old Oyster Bar building, now owned by the Edgartown National Bank at the upper end of Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs, small business owners were no doubt excited at the prospect of a fresh façade and respected community bank making its home at the top of the street.
But when Memorial Day weekend arrived and the area remained a noisy, dusty construction site that blocked sidewalk traffic, neighboring business owners near the new bank building were understandably miffed.
After thinking about it for a week, the Oak Bluffs selectmen agreed to relax the town’s summer construction ban so that the bank’s contractors can finish the exterior work quickly and continue with interior work into the summer. The decision to allow construction beyond June 1 will also aid the completion of a handful of other visible projects in town including the Island Theatre at the bottom of Circuit avenue. Considering the options, finishing the work was probably the only sensible resolution.
But the bank, its mainland contractor and the town have some fences to mend on Circuit avenue. The moratorium on construction in the summer is not a new concept, and lack of adequate supervision of this project created real disruption for a few small businesses that could have been easily avoided. The granting of an extension seemed to some like a reward for bad behavior.
Small business is the lifeblood of the Oak Bluffs economy, and the merchants who have worked together so well to create an inviting destination for visitors deserve better.