Rare Gift

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Vineyard Gazette has a long and honored tradition as a leader in support of wise land use issues, including conservation, historic preservation and the protection of open space.

These are the challenges of the Veira Park question. It is not about baseball or children or other parents, or even immediate neighbors, mischaracterized in a Gazette editorial as disgruntled.

Oak Bluffs has the lucky history of a planner, Copeland, who understood the importance of open space for all the residents and visitors of a densely settled town.

What a rare gift this has been. Those of us who know and share the value of this gift need to be ever watchful and committed to its preservation and protection in principle.

The temptation to use up or fill this space for specific activities is always there. We are reminded that the parks do not belong to a park department, which is only their steward. The rightful owners are all the citizens of Oak Bluffs. Another valued historic tradition is the right of citizens to seek redress in the courts. On a personal note: as one of the litigants, though not an immediate abutter, I consider it not only my right but my responsibility to protect and defend all the open space parks in Oak Bluffs.

Ann L. Margetson

Oak Bluffs

Save the Grove

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A beloved grove of black oaks living in Veira Park (formerly Petaluma Park) is in danger of destruction from development. The oaks have stood in this Oak Bluffs public park for over 100 years. A recent study conducted by an impartial ISA certified arborist, Michael Talbot, assessed these trees as being “very valuable and essentially impossible to replace.” The study goes on to report that the proposed development at the Veira Park site would surely cause irreparable injury and eventual death to most of the grove.

Veira Park is one of the original “breathing spaces” laid out in Robert Morris Copeland’s Oak Bluffs Plan. It is an historic treasure of Oak Bluffs. Each and every one of Copeland’s parks is an essential and indispensable feature of life within the micro-communities that make up our town. Veira Park’s green space and trees exist for the enjoyment of all, and the park is not intended to be for the use of one private interest or recreational occupation.

Please, let’s put our heads together and find a suitable location for the new Little League of Martha’s Vineyard baseball complex. Let our black oaks live in peace.

Michele Ratte

Oak Bluffs

Wrong Place

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It was disheartening to read your recent editorial (Friday, Nov. 2), regarding the proposed ball park expansion and upgrade at Veira Park in Oak Bluffs. If it is not possible to get all the information necessary to make an objective analysis and then comment on it, maybe it would be better left alone? As an Oak Bluffs taxpayer, baseball fan and community-minded citizen, I am going to let you in on a few pertinent (in my mind) facts:

First: The proposal to add a second ball field would turn what is now a multi-use park into a single-use park (Little League baseball. The so-called disgruntled neighbors are not upset about baseball or improvements to our parks. A point of fact here: the people upset are not only neighbors but concerned citizens and taxpayers who hope to see their tax dollars spent wisely, and don’t consider the expenditure of $200,000 (for what is a regional nonprofit effort, an Island-wide Little League baseball complex) to be a good investment.

Second: The proposed upgrade and changes to the park go in direct opposition to the Oak Bluffs master plan, which was made with the help and guidance of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and specifically states that before anything new is added, money should be spent on existing parks and public spaces, and open space and parks are to be kept and maintained for the enjoyment and use of everyone.

Third: You state that it is not illegal to use CPA funding to restore its Little League Park. In fact, the plan is to do a lot more than restore the Little League Park. It is adding another baseball diamond and in the process, doing irreparable damage to the grove of Black Oaks that currently reside in that end of the park. And as of today, we still don’t know whether it is illegal to use these funds for adding a ball park.

Fourth: The traffic situation in the area in question is already dangerous, and adding more people and activity can only add to the problem. At the MVC meetings, neighbors and abutters came forward to decry this proposal for safety issues alone. The streets are narrow, sightlines are bad, there is too much going on already in a small area.

Fifth: Whether it is deemed illegal or not, we are still talking about spending $200,000 of Oak Bluffs money to create a facility that will be of use to every town on the Island. The cost of building, and then maintaining the facility will fall on the shoulders of the Oak Bluffs taxpayers.

The bottom line for me is that this is a great idea, and effort should be made to find a suitable location that will work for all involved. Why can’t we find a good spot to do this, and get every town involved in the effort? It would be a wonderful thing to have a baseball complex for the kids that we could all be proud of and that wouldn’t ruin a park and create a dangerous situation for kids and spectators.

Eric Shenholm

Oak Bluffs