The weakened economy has caused plenty of hardship on the Island, but we’re occasionally reminded that even in healthy periods years ago, the good times weren’t always so good.

The rancorous dispute over the Southern Woodlands section of Oak Bluffs that began in 1998 with developer Corey Kupersmith’s proposal to build an 18-hole golf course stands as one of the ugliest expressions of the recurring tensions on the Vineyard between preservation and growth. In what may mark the final chapter in that unhappy period, the bank that holds the mortgage on most of Mr. Kupersmith’s remaining property plans to put it up for sale next month at a foreclosure auction.

Mr. Kupersmith tried and failed three times in four years to gain approval from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to build a golf course in the old Webb’s Camping Area, which had been identified as a district of critical planning concern. Angry at the rejection, Mr. Kupersmith filed multiple lawsuits against the commission, then switched gears and tried to push through a 366-unit affordable housing development on the swath of land between Sengekontacket and Lagoon Ponds.

The worst of the controversy ended in 2004 when Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank stepped in and purchased 190 acres for conservation for $18.6 million, paving the way for the MVC to approve a compromise development plan with Mr. Kupersmith for 26 luxury homes on the remaining 90 acres.

For whatever reasons, that development failed to materialize. Two vacant model homes are all that remain of Mr. Kupersmith’s superheated dreams. We hope the property finds a new custodian willing to work within a planning process designed to balance public and private interests.

When the economy cooled, so did the spectre of a juggernaut of development threatening the very character of the Island. But development on Martha’s Vineyard continues, occasionally stretching the bounds of good taste and community values.

In that context, it is encouraging to see the Chilmark Planning Board and MVC working on constructive ways to regulate the size of so-called McMansions, and engaging in a dialogue with architects, builders and homeowners to navigate the difficult terrain between what a private party wants and how the community wishes to define itself.

In the end, the story of the Southern Woodlands development was a shining example of how the Island’s planning mechanisms actually worked. It ought to work even better in a less poisonous atmosphere.