The following letter was sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

I am asking you to stand with me and many others, including present and past Martha’s Vineyard Commission members and Tisbury town officials who oppose the Stop & Shop expansion in Vineyard Haven on our Island’s primary harbor. This plan will irrevocably change the character of the village of Vineyard Haven.

This is not about the corporate world, this is about mindless redevelopment. Stop & Shop’s owner Ahold, a large corporation on par with Walmart, is using a cookie cutter plan to maximize profits.

They have brazenly demonstrated that they care little for our values or our community. Despite multiple requests in writing and at public hearings, they have not reduced the overall size of the building by a square inch. Despite your own request to erect a pole at each end for your own viewing to see the projected height, they only put up one. That pole was removed yesterday, April 28, three days before what is likely to be the final public hearing. Please require them to immediately replace the pole, and to erect a pole at each end, as you requested, and leave them there until this process ends. Please ask for one at each corner.

More important, no amount of mitigation money will repair the harm to be done to our already overburdened infrastructure. Traffic is going to be worse, even by the applicant’s own estimates. The Steamship Authority wrote a letter to you. They think that vehicles may not be able to get off the ferry and that vehicles may miss ferries trying to board, thus disrupting the ferry schedule. There will be other economic ramifications to our town and Island as a consequence.

I am not opposed to a new store; it would be lovely. Stop & Shop is an anchor store for downtown. We have already lost Main street businesses such as the dry goods store (Vineyard Dry Goods,) the post office, the hardware store (Shirley’s), a bank (now M.V. Savings) and a grocery store (Cronig’s).

We need a same-size grocery store that fits in with the neighborhood, doesn’t overburden the local roads and town parking lot, doesn’t disrupt the ferries, doesn’t obstruct police emergency access to State Road and Five Corners, doesn’t compete with the neighborhood’s locally owned businesses, and is bad for the environment. The present store is an eyesore because Stop & Shop has neglected it for decades.

It is your job to protect Martha’s Vineyard from over-development and to protect your own reputation as our regional planning agency, conceived decades ago to preserve our values. Please vote to deny this application.

Marie Laursen
Vineyard Haven