Many Benefits>

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission:

I am 100 per cent in favor of the proposed Bradley Square project.

My reasons are many.

When Oak Bluffs (Cottage City) was founded, the first major and heavily populated neighborhoods were downtown. Businesses and residents lived side by side in a very compact and totally integrated location. This tradition that helped to define the character of Oak Bluffs still exists today.

As the population grew, the residential areas spread out. In 1974, zoning became more definitive with the classifications of Residential 1, 2, 3 and Business 1 and 2.

There are a total of approximately 4,500 acres of land in Oak Bluffs.

There are approximately 11 acres of B1 zoned property in Oak Bluffs.

In 1998, the town voted to accept a master plan that stressed the wishes not to expand the business B1 zoning and to keep businesses in the downtown neighborhoods.

Since 1880, there have been many changes in our town. The permitted area for businesses has changed very little. Home businesses have increased enormously.

It is vitally important that what little land we have in Oak Bluffs that is devoted to B1 business be utilized as such.

Currently we have a mixed use in the B1 Dukes County avenue neighborhood. Residents are finding more and more businesses opening very close by.

The use of the property proposed by the Bradley Square project is an ideal combination for this neighborhood. It is not an intense business use, it fits more with the residential component and will help to enhance the growing community of galleries and retail shops that have begun to establish a presence in the area.

It will provide affordable housing and workplace for artists and retail space for their work. It will preserve an important historic landmark and restore the public use of a building that was once a center for the African American community. It will promote the original character and tradition of our town that encouraged a symbiotic relationship between businesses and residential properties.

As an artist, I want to say that I have lost many artist friends who have had to leave the Vineyard because they could not afford to live and work here. This project will help to change that and give artists the opportunity to own a home and work space as well as a place to show and sell their work.

Oak Bluffs is a vibrant Victorian seaside summer resort that has developed into a vibrant community of year-round residents who have chosen to live in a vibrant Victorian seaside summer resort that has become a vibrant year-round community.

We are unique to the Island, to New England, to the United States and to the world.

What a treasure. The Bradley Square project will only enhance this unique and wonderful town we call home.

Renee Balter

Oak Bluffs

Estranged by Artists>

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Though I live on Vineyard avenue, smack in the middle of an area that has been termed by many as the arts district, I don’t consider myself a member, since I am not an artist. So that’s point one. I have to say that, as a non-artist by inclination and talent and employment, who lives in what used to be a simple blue collar neighborhood in Oak Bluffs, I am feeling very estranged by the artists, who seem in many ways to have taken over the neighborhood, instead of wanting to live side-by-side with us non-artists.

Could someone answer this for me: if the contracts for the architect and the builder have already been given out, then how can the town of Oak Bluffs monetarily support this project, if neither of those contracts was submitted for bid, no matter what the generous terms from both the architect and builder might be?

Point two: Until all the preliminary studies are completed by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, hopefully a neutral presence in what has quickly become a very polarizing situation, let us not think of this project as fait accompli and instead concern ourselves with what are still preliminary issues concerning the development of this property.

Sara Fogg Crafts

Oak Bluffs

Out of Scale>

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

I have been appalled at the lack of respect and integrity shown to the abutters of and residents in the neighborhood around the Bradley church project by the affordable housing fund. The proponents of this project have waged a political campaign of disinformation to the public via The Point radio show and statements made to the commission regarding widespread acceptance of this plan in the neighborhood. They are fully aware of the opposition to the scale of this plan by the majority of the neighbors. Many of these residents, some of greater than 50 years, have been lied to, subjected to low-ball insulting offers for their homes, so low you would have to leave the Island, and treated as if they and their quality of life is irrelevant. Nice tactic: Sell to me cheap because I’m going to put a road and parking lot in your backyard. Nice.

Residents in this neighborhood already have people blocking their cars in or out, parking on lawns and bushes, leaving trash, hitting fences etc. during these art strolls. This is not an arts district. It is a B-1 commercial to R-1 residential mixed-use neighborhood with real people, called residents, who live in small houses on smaller lots, some 40 by 80 feet, who need to be able to park in front of their homes.

The proponents of this plan say it is okay to put 12 dwelling units, four subsidized B-1 commercial retail spaces, and a function hall on less than one-half acre of land with six or eight on-site parking spaces. The 50 to 60-vehicle parking space needs of this project will create parking chaos far outside the 300-foot public meeting notice requirement, so many people don’t even know what’s coming down the road, so to speak. Fifty parallel parking spaces equals 1,000 feet; that’s 200 feet down five side roads in addition to existing full capacity. Nope, don’t fit.

This neighborhood works only if each business and resident has adequate parking. Adding insult to injury, how would you like a new service road and parking lot to appear on your backyard boundary when you thought you were in a R-1 zone? They don’t want to see six cars from the town roads they chose to put them in your backyard. Cool. I’ll offer a little design advice. When you have a small lot, don’t build a road on it.

Other questions arise when trying to understand the mindset of those who would propose such a destructive and out-of-balance project.

What are the affordable housing people doing getting involved in historic preservation and commercial development? Why would money for affordable housing be used to subsidize the acquisition of commercial property? Business owners next to this project have $300,000 to $500,000-plus invested in their B-1 commercial condominiums for living, working and retail space. Why aren’t the commercial units the ones being sold at full market value rather than the only two two-bedroom units? Who is the target demographic for 10 one-bedroom units and how does that support the year-round Vineyard economy? It’s not for young couples. Where is the sign-up list and who was on it before you knew about it?

The scale of this project is patently absurd. These people need to play by the same rules as everyone else and fit on their own property.

Donald N. Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Starting this past summer I have noticed a change in the beauty of many of our Vineyard roads. They are becoming strewn with litter; some that flew off of a truck, maybe, and some that flew from someone’s hands. You can’t miss it. Cups, bottles, plastic bags, pieces of sheetrock are lying on the sides of the roads as never before.

Trouble is, other than help to pick it up just to see something substituted in its place, I don’t honestly know what to do about it. Maybe I haven’t been here long enough to know where to start. My husband and I have been coming to the Vineyard since 1977, built a house in 1999 and moved here full time almost two years ago. We really care about this Island and know that most everyone else does too.

It surprises me that I am not seeing regular jail crews cleaning the roads as I used to. Did that program cease to exist? In addition, so many of the roads nearby are intersected by town lines, so working with one town to try to eliminate the problem isn’t going to solve much. Do we put up signs to punish littering with fines? Signs aren’t much better than litter. Besides, we all know that this is a problem caused by attitude.

Many of us must share these same thoughts. I would love to hear from anyone with an idea on the how we can ameliorate this problem before it gets even worse.

Vivian Stein

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to Peter Boak and the Island Community Chorus for their outstanding concert two weeks ago. Elijah came to life in an exciting and beautiful way because of the many long hours each member gave to this effort. The orchestra, accompanist, soloists, chorus and especially Peter outdid themselves putting on this memorable event.

Sandra McCormick



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Here in Nicaragua, I am listening to the current big debate about paying for burial space, the fee for which is a source of revenue for their towns.

If you are buried in a cemetery, your family has to pay a tax of more than 1,800 cordobas ($100) a year to keep you there — like paying rent. If your family does not pay, you will be dug up, your body put on the ground and a new body is put in your place. And the rate you must pay town hall depends on the location in the cemetery. You pay more for a better location, location, location. That $100 represents about one month’s salary.

People on the local television channel 8 are talking about the burden of having to pay so much, in essence to rent your final resting place. Because of the heat, people are usually buried within 24 hours, so if you have not paid the month’s rent for one family space, the next to pass on will just have to hang out and wait for you to catch up on your payments before being buried.

The irony is that real estate taxes on nice homes is about $50 a year. But when you die, be prepared to shell out double that amount for a small space for your bones to rest.

Now the towns are hungry to increase the size of their cemeteries in anticipation of growing their revenue.

And for those who can not pay, for the very poor, there is always the town dump.

I could not make this up. Be grateful, all of you, for what we have in the United States. Can any of you imagine this happening on the Vineyard?

Muriel Laverty

Masaya, Nicaragua


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

While I have been spending the winter off-Island, the Gazette has been my principal source for keeping up with the Vineyard. This week’s issue contained a number of surprises.

I learned on page one that George Banks, not Charles as I had thought, was the author of three volumes of Vineyard history. George was Mr. Banks, not Dr. as Charles was. Then I found out that the museum had acquired two acres of land in West Tisbury for a new facility, not 25 acres that I believed they had bought and then sold parts of to their neighbors, the Agricultural Society and Polly Hill Arboretum, leaving ten acres.

I think the museum board will be surprised to learn that Keith Gorman, newly appointed as executive director, had been promoted to executive chairman.

I discovered that the Dukes County Historical Society had been formed in 1923 to preserve knickknacks, not to preserve Vineyard history through establishing a library and museum where material could be collected and information disseminated to the public, as I had thought. And, members met in each other’s house “for decades, until they bought the Thomas Cooke house in the 1950s.” I had thought they met in libraries for one decade until, in the early 1930s, Ethelinda Mayhew bequeathed her interest in the Cooke house to the society and they had a headquarters.

It made me wonder what else I could have learned if I had read a little more.

Marian R. Halperin

Orchard Park, N.Y


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Imagine your day starting like this:

You wake up half an hour early so you can spend some time on your bicycle, revving up your heart and savoring the sights and sounds of the still morning air. Bright-eyed and bike ride buoyed, you stow your wheels in the spacious chauffeur-driven conveyance that picks you up every morning and spirits you off to work. On the way, you tune in to your favorite morning radio show, the current chapter of a gripping new novel or the calming strains of a baroque melody. At the same time, you open your laptop to finish up some planning documents for the day and make a call to your mother in Maine, who gets up early. Reassured that all is well in the maternal world, you relax into the wonders of a breathtaking sunrise taking shape through the trees on the horizon.

Arriving at work half an hour before the rest of your coworkers, you have time to brew a cup of coffee, check out the morning news and tidy up those loose ends that grew back from the day before. You work through the day, knowing that you have the same ride in reverse to look forward to: a relaxing half hour to spend however you like, followed by a second chance at cardio madness to wake up your physical being for the evening. It’s just another day that begins and ends with an unbeatable combination of rest and rejuvenation. Anybody ready to sign up?

The truth is, this option is available to the vast majority of Vineyarders. It’s not an exclusive privilege or the perk of a professional athlete. It’s a choice that can actually make your day. For the surprisingly minimal sum of 27 cents a day, you can do it yourself. That’s the price of one fourth of a small cup of coffee, one sixth of a bottle of water and one fifteenth of a gallon of gas.

So what’s this all about? It’s about saving money, saving the planet and saving your body. It’s about leaving your car at home and riding your bike and/or the bus. It’s about trading the benefits of one practice for the benefits of another. While some ingenious people are busy designing more efficient ways to get around, we can help take the heat off the planet by transporting more people on fewer vehicles, using less fuel, reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, and maintaining the fragile balance that supports our lives on the planet. Amory Lovins, director of the Rocky Mountain Institute, advisor to corporations all over the world and designer of an ultralight vehicle for tomorrow called the Hypercar, puts it simply, “efficiency is cheaper than fuel.”

It’s not really a question of sacrifice; it’s more about alternatives, cooperation and efficiency. We think that millions of people will not change the way they live their lives just to reduce their impact on the planet. History proves people make radical changes over time when presented with attractive options. If we can happily make new choices that combine the benefits of comfort and convenience with the measures needed to reduce climate change, then our species may even begin to deserve its self-appointed title of wise man.

(P.S. This note was both written and sent by e-mail while riding the Vineyard Transit Authority bus.)

Sidney Morris


The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.