I am writing to help inform the Island community of a proposed project that threatens to forever alter not only one of the last remaining wooded areas of Edgartown, but also the tenuous health of one of the island’s most important natural resources, the Edgartown Great Pond. An out-of-state developer plans to build a 34-house subdivision along Meetinghouse Way, not far from the pond, a plan currently under review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

The project has little to recommend it, outside of the profit that will be reaped by the developers and their consultants. The environment and the larger community lose. A unique piece of woodland, considered a biodiversity link to other still undeveloped areas nearby, and a key part of the Great Pond watershed, would be sacrificed to build these enormous houses, with their permanent attendant drains on water and sewer systems. The negative impact of this project on a sensitive, irreplaceable ecosystem of watershed, woodlands, and the priceless Great Pond, is beyond calculation. Furthermore, the proposed project is only one parcel in a larger, three-parcel project planned for both sides of Division Road. Developing all three parcels totals closer to 50 building lots. Although this mega-development will unfold in stages, it will have an added detrimental effect on the area, as construction and its attendant noise and truck traffic would continue for years. These developments raise serious concerns about water usage, wastewater capacities, increased road traffic and congestion on already compromised roads such as Meshacket and Clevelandtown, and the radical hastening of the trend toward suburban sprawl. There is no pressing need for these luxury homes, many of which will surely serve as second or third homes. In the face of ever increasing inequality, this project imperils the very nature of this island as a place for all types of people.

As its website states, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission was created to “protect the health, safety, and general welfare of island residents and visitors by preserving and conserving for the enjoyment of present and future generations the unique natural, historical, ecological, scientific, and cultural values of Martha’s Vineyard...by protecting these values from development and uses which would impair them...”

We are indeed fortunate to have such an organization working on our behalf.

The Island community looks to the commission to see the big picture here, to honor its inspiring charter and its critical mission, to think about future generations, and to protect our community’s values, which include fairness and an active reverence for our fragile natural and social environment. Please contact your Commission representatives and urge them to deny the application for this unwise and unnecessary project.

Jeffrey Agnoli