Now that the three largest Island towns have defeated a plan to create an Islandwide housing bank designed to provide more housing for year-round residents, the next step seems obvious: go back to the drawing board.

After all, the concept received broad support in 2017 when floated as a nonbinding referendum in every town where the question was posed. A reasonable inference could be drawn that Islanders support the idea of a housing bank, but have concerns about the plan as presented.

The measure was placed on town meeting warrants by petition, bypassing town selectmen, many of whom found themselves opposing an idea they might otherwise have endorsed.

Even its backers acknowledged on the town meeting floor that the proposal, which would create a bank and fund it with 50 per cent of the revenues from taxes on a newly expanded tax on hotels, rooms and short-term rentals, had not been fully fleshed out.

“We knew going forward that this wasn’t perfect — there’s a lot of work to be done to get this right,” Doug Ruskin told voters in West Tisbury, the only town so far to endorse creation of the bank itself. It is on the warrant for the Chilmark town meeting next Monday and the Aquinnah town meeting on May 14. West Tisbury still has to consider the funding mechanism at an April 30 special town meeting.

For one thing, the plan does not mention the word “affordable,” using instead the broad term “year-round housing.” Proponents say they were purposely vague so the bank could be used to help seniors unable to downsize as well as teachers, nurses and other critical service workers. But without more definition, how can Islanders be certain that’s who will benefit?

Advocates also suggest the source of the funding is all new money, but in fact the wording of the warrant articles would put half the rooms tax money already collected by towns into the kitty as well. With the three down-Island towns having most of the Island’s hotels and estimated to generate three-quarters of the revenue from the new rental tax, it is no wonder the selectmen there stood foursquare in opposition.

Now our two young state legislators, Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, say they will pursue housing bank legislation even if only two up-Island towns endorse the proposal. What could that legislation possibly look like and why in the world would the legislature approve a plan that has already been rejected by a majority of Island voters?

Ironically, it is a fierce critic of the proposal, Edgartown selectman Michael Donorama, who has thrown supporters a lifeline by pledging to hold hearings on the issue alongside housing bank advocates. If that is what housing bank advocates wanted all along, as a few are trying to explain now, well good for them.

Affordable housing is a cause the Island wants to support, but it needs to be done right and in the Vineyard way. That often means a few false starts and always means too many meetings, but usually ends up with the right outcome at last.