A Light in the Gloom

President Obama this week presented his first budget in Washington, D.C., a spending plan crafted to address not only the nation’s economic crisis but also its yawning inequality. Here on the Vineyard — where we have as bipolar an economy as you’re likely to find — we were presented with good news about closer-to-home efforts to bridge the gaps between us.

Foremost of these was the announcement that construction will begin next month on a long-awaited community YMCA.

Organizers themselves call the decision brave. The money for the new YMCA is not all there yet, and the global economic slump is stymieing plenty of other local capital projects and fund-raising efforts. But for years, Islanders — some who have plenty and some who have not, some seasonal and some year-round — all have contributed millions of dollars to bring us to this point. A place for the community, particularly the young, to meet and play, a healthy, year-round environment for all, is now properly under way.

That the building will begin in April is a hopeful step. Though for the Vineyard YMCA venture to fulfill its aims — to offer services otherwise out of reach to many Island families — there will have to be sustained philanthropy, even in strained times.

Mr. Obama’s budget will let lapse the income tax cuts for those making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year; it will limit the deductions top-earners can take; it will raise income taxes on hedge fund and private equity partners. Many of the Island’s philanthropists, many of whom are active supporters of Mr. Obama, will feel the impact of these changes. Though middle and lower income earners will see tax benefits, they also are most vulnerable to the broader economic volatility. For the sake of the YMCA, and its aims to reduce the opportunity gaps on this Island, let us hope none of this will impede the path to fruition for this long-awaited institution.