To speak of Vineyard Haven’s Main street is to also speak of Beach street, Water street, Beach Road, State Road and the streets that intersect. Downtown Vineyard Haven is unique in many ways — transportation hub, industrial port, working waterfront, historic district, cultural district and more. With all of this, one would expect a vibrant Main street. However, it is troubling to see vacant storefronts, derelict buildings, vacant lots and deferred maintenance. Something is missing — a certain vitality. A vibrant restaurant scene along with a thriving cultural district will help change this. Of course, there are other overarching issues, including zoning and infrastructure, but that is a discussion for a later date.

Main street Vineyard Haven is wonderfully diverse including the cultural district, a museum, hotels, restaurants, cafes, galleries, retail stores, banks, offices etc., and each of these would benefit from increased pedestrian activity. Restaurants help generate this activity, but the cost to build out a restaurant on Main street is disproportionately high when the return will be limited. There needs to be an incentive for a more sustainable restaurant culture, and this begins with a vote to allow these establishments to have full liquor licenses, the key to unlocking growth in this sector.

As vacant storefronts fill up with various eating establishments, and more people frequent Main street, the chances of Vineyard Haven developing a more vibrant year-round Main street with year-round jobs and a year-round economy will improve.

John Fuller
Vineyard Haven