Regarding the review process of the possible re-development at the Tisbury public parking and Stop & Shop site, we are writing in part to say that all the coverage given these issues by the Vineyard Gazette over recent months is commendable. Within the many issues covered has been the economic well being of Vineyard Haven, the flow of traffic, goods and essential public safety services between Water street and Main street Vineyard Haven and through the Five Corners intersection and the logistics surrounding the Island’s main Steamship Authority terminal.

But a major consideration has been conspicuously absent from almost all the coverage of the proceedings at public hearings — that of the environmental impact and consideration of the effects of climate change on this project. The only example we have found included in the review process is a letter dated Jan. 9 submitted as testimony to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission by the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS), stating that the site is in a designated flood zone and that “balancing calculation of benefits and detriments, it is worth repeating that climate changes currently underway are altering those designations. VCS has tried in our Rising Seas educational initiative to bring to the attention of leadership and the public how projected one and two-metre sea level rise over the next century will impact the Island, particularly the downtown areas . . . It appears that the site of this DRI will be impacted. It is therefore appropriate to weigh the relative benefit of significant new investment in infrastructure there.”

We agree most vigorously!

The VCS statement mentions sea level rise projections over a long time span, but there is a much more immediate threat to the stability of the Stop & Shop site and the surrounding area, one that may deserve to be placed at the very top of any serious list of concerns as this review process continues. The sea level rise that is already evident on our shores now means that storms will produce bigger surges and floods.

The VCS testimony on the Stop & Shop plans also points out that since the main driver of sea level rise and increased storm surge threat is the still increasing emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the increased traffic in an already congested area resulting from a much larger store contributes to the problem. In the same vein, as many others in our community have also stressed, we suggest that any new Island redevelopment must consider making the lowest possible carbon footprint.

All the thoughtful, well-intentioned concerns about new projects like the Stop & Shop site expansion and Tisbury’s public parking needs will have a bearing on the traditional priorities of a tasteful vacation destination like Martha’s Vineyard Island. We must insist that taking into consideration the impact on the environment and its linkage to climate change be made a top priority in this and all future development projects.

Mas Kimball, Chris Riger
Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury