Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For the past three months a development proposal for Bradley Square on the corner of Masonic and Dukes County avenues and adjacent to the arts district in Oak Bluffs has been before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission as a development of regional impact. The proposal, submitted as part of a joint venture between the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund, is characterized by a combination of incredible goals: affordable housing, historic preservation and support for local artisans.

Prior to its submission to the MVC, the project had been the subject of six months of thoughtful work developed by the Bradley Square Design Committee, a group of individuals representing a cross-section of interested parties, neighbors and planning professionals.

As an involved observer of the planning process and now the review process, I have been energized by the development concept as well as astonished by its apparent opposition.

In conversations with friends I find on the other side of the fence, I have offered what seems so clear to me:

• The developer is the housing trust in conjunction with the housing fund. These two organizations have a positive track record in making the Vineyard a better place.

• This proposal has been part of an Islandwide collaborative effort that includes Habitat for Humanity, the NAACP, the Oak Bluffs historical commission and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

• The Bradley Memorial Church, a significant piece of Martha’s Vineyard’s cultural history, will be preserved and avoid demolition.

• The integration of affordable housing and four live/work artisan studios are prime examples of smart and sustainable growth in developing a year-round community and economy.

• A neighborhood that has lost much of its character over the last 40 years will be revitalized.

Although most of those opposed seem to agree with the conceptual benefits of Bradley Square proposal, they speak of the project’s problems:

• Building scale — the two newly proposed buildings planned for the property are too big for the neighborhood.

• Parking — the neighborhood lacks parking during summer art strolls (three-hour gatherings, sponsored by the arts district, when artists open their studio spaces and display their work). Therefore, an increased art’s district along with additional housing will increase the parking problem.

Although I respect the opponents’ point of view, I believe a temporary lack of parking, which is consistent with summer events across the Island, is more inconvenience than problem. I would also suggest the architectural merits of this project, including building scale, should be part of a subjective debate rather than mislabeled as something worse.

Documented Island problems include a lack of affordable housing, demolition of historic and aged Island buildings and a dwindling year-round Island economy due to the departure of certain small business types. In order to maintain a healthy and sustainable Islandwide environment, these problems need our attention. With Bradley Square, the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund have proposed a creative and visionary model for similar opportunities in the future. The project’s capacity to problem-solve far outweighs its potential for random inconvenience.

Bradley Square deserves our support. We should applaud those who have offered it to us. Otherwise, we can consider ourselves part of a bigger problem.

Phil Regan

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have no love for the shark tournament, the tackiest thing on the Vineyard. But I am wary of your complacent question: “What does Mr. James give back to the Vineyard? Nothing.”

Giving is not giving when it is a requirement — as it so often is these days, while hidden behind a screen of sanctimony. Mr. James does his thing, and gets town permission (or not) from the town to do it — hey, it’s a free country. If giving back is a sine qua non for any activity, then it is not giving, it is extortion.

Christopher Gray



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

How exciting it was to see over 200 friends, families and neighbors turn out for the barbecue last Saturday to celebrate the ground clearing for the new YMCA. We are thrilled with the possibility of breaking ground this fall and could not do it without the support of our great Island community. Thank you to all who attended, to all who helped and a special thanks to Mother Nature for holding back the rain.

Christine Todd

Oak Bluffs