Should Ahold-Stop & Shop’s proposal for a greatly expanded store, the subject of a long hearing process before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, be approved or rejected? I believe it should be rejected. Rejection by the MVC would be a tough love opportunity for Ahold, a Netherlands-based multinational, to do what it should have done in the first place: hold a series of focus groups and open forums to invite comment from citizens, nonprofits, other business owners, professionals and public officials to develop an appropriate proposal that respects the setting. That would show some genuine corporate responsibility and even vision and would be a win-win for everyone, including Ahold and their international image.

The current proposal before the MVC seems to be little more than an opportunity to add a notch to the multinational’s “conversion to USA big box format” scorecard. Despite minor tweakings, this proposal is not worthy of the Vineyard.

In sum, the detriments:

• Increased traffic at Five Corners and throughout waterfront area and Islandwide impediments to the functioning of the VTA.

• Increased air and noise pollution for visitors and over 25 residents of the immediate neighborhood.

• Hogging of parking needed by other Vineyard Haven businesses and the public.

• A questionable process.

• An outsize building uglifying both street views toward the harbor and shoreline waterfront views (also from Beach Road and Hines Point).

• Elimination of current small islands of green in the neighborhood.

• Loss of sunlight for most of parking lot.

• Impacts on existing Main street businesses from traffic congestion.

• Impacts on existing business of an abutter on Cromwell Lane.

•Traffic Catch-22: Successful store equals more traffic and congestion. Failed store (because too large for market) equals white elephant on Vineyard Haven waterfront.

• Danger of establishing local monopoly. Then even more traffic in town.

• Disruptions that reduce quality of life for the neighborhood and others both during construction and beyond.

• MVC approval signals approval of Ahold-Stop&Shop’s intransigence regarding the feature of its plan that has the greatest impact on the neighborhood and the municipal parking lot: the location of the trailer bays.

I’m sure I have forgotten something.

In short, aside from wider supermarket aisles, I fail to see a single benefit of the current Ahold-S&S expansion plan to the Island, the town, and the neighborhood.

As a child of seven, I was taken by my aunt on an excursion to view Shopper’s World in Framingham, the cultural hearth of the shopping mall. I was very excited, expecting to see a marvel, an enormous globe showing “the world.” I was crestfallen to find that the big attraction was a cheesy Robert Hall clothing store. Let’s be sensible grown-ups, not childlike fantasizers. Let’s not bring the Framingham marvel to Vineyard Haven.

Katherine Scott
Vineyard Haven