A Place for Planning

More than thirty five years ago, an engineering firm looked at the six towns on the Vineyard and envisioned a possible seventh town carved into the Island’s center, around the regional high school and along the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.

The firm, Metcalf and Eddy, saw the area as a social and economic center, a place for larger development not appropriate for the down-Island downtowns or the ecologically sensitive up-Island towns.

The seventh town never came to pass. Yet the area by default has become much of that social and economic center envisioned by the Metcalf and Eddy — and it’s likely to become even more so in the next few years.

Projects planned for the area include a YMCA and three, possibly four new churches. They would join existing Island institutions such as the Martha’s Vineyard Arena, the skate park, Woodside Village elderly housing, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, as well as commercial entities such as Jardin Mahoney.

In retrospect, the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven corridor was by far the best bet and place on the Island for such development, given its large amount of buildable land, central location and easy access.

But the area’s growth has generated problems of septic waste disposal and traffic congestion, not to mention an appearance of a highway strip that smacks more of the mainland than of an Island seven miles out to sea.

The corridor indeed lends itself not so much to the creation of a new town as of a district of critical planning concern: a unified way to manage the corridor so as to limit its impact on the environment and to help create a renewed Vineyard ambience.