We are led to believe that we either have to live with the existing shabby Stop & Shop store, or accept a new building which most Vineyarders feel is inappropriate for that site. There is, however, a practical solution which would reduce or eliminate most of the problems associated with the existing application. It need not be either-or.
If Stop & Shop is serious about wanting to be a good neighbor, and is really interested in being sensitive to Island values, they would withdraw their application and come back with an incremental expansion and improvement of their existing building.
Giordano’s Restaurant did just this in the late 1980s, and more recently, so did Cronig’s Markets with their Vineyard Haven store. No one can argue with the logic of this approach — it has proven to be a successful business strategy for centuries. Both of the above are old Island businesses, and they are still thriving. Also, they remained open to serve the public’s needs during the upgrade process — something which the existing Stop & Shop proposal will not do.
An incremental expansion/upgrade would enable the developer to sidestep many of the FEMA triggers, while doing a more sensitive job of fitting in a far superior store with the Island’s needs and values. Then, if they would scale down their footprint some and confine new building to the upper part of their properties, most of the envisioned problems could be dealt with in an ordinary and practical manner. It might take three or four years, with individual applications for each phase, to complete the process this way. However, it would eliminate a lot of problems, and get both Stop & Shop and the community superior results at much less cost to all.
Like I said above, this is not a new concept, and it works. The only things standing in the way of doing it this way are corporate vanity and greed. Big companies like to throw their weight around and do things in a big way. And, despite the glowing language in their mission statements, the bottom line is everything to corporate executives. Just the same, I firmly believe that Stop & Shop, as well as the Island business community, would benefit from a tasteful upgrade and expansion of the store in this way. I feel that it would be a win-win solution we could all support and be proud of.
Frank H. Dunkl