On Tuesday, not long after dawn, a group of skaters converged on Parsonage Pond in West Tisbury. They were old and young and in between, all there to embrace the frigid temperatures and play pond hockey, a tradition that goes back generations.

Later in the day it snowed, really snowed, and kids raced to the hills to go sledding after school.

Watching the skaters of early morning and the sledders of late afternoon was like turning the pages of a Currier and Ives album, revealing a fantasy landscape unchanged for centuries.

But beneath the surface, of course, much has changed.

The still-raging coronavirus has laid bare issues that have long lurked near the surface but now stand out in starker relief.

Last week, the Gazette reported another record year for the Island real estate market, passing $1 billion in sales for 2020, eclipsing the previous record of $670 million set in 2017. The median home price has risen to $1.5 million, and with inventory drying up, it is nearly impossible to find a home for less than $700,000.

While the 2020 season was not the complete business bust many feared, it is surely a better time to be a real estate agent on the Island than a tavern keeper. And while January is always quiet, a stroll down Island main streets suggests that this year many longtime businesses may never reopen.

This is the thin ice the Island skates upon. Affordability for much of the Island’s year-round population has been the Island’s cross to bear ever since tourism became its main economic engine, filling some coffers while emptying others. The trickle down of a resort location has always played favorites.

But, complicated by the coronavirus, the situation seems more dire than ever. People who own businesses struggle to make a living. Organizations that rely on skilled workers struggle to attract talent. And teachers, emergency personnel, nurses, home health aides and service workers of all kinds struggle to find stable, long-term, affordable housing.

Once again a coalition of concerned citizens has formed to push forward the idea of a housing bank, financed by a transfer fee on real estate transactions. The plan is still in infancy, and organizers have pledged to spend more than a year gathering comment and fine-tuning the proposal.

The intent is noble, and an early outline of the plan — as laid out in an op-ed this week in this newspaper — suggests that advocates have learned a few lessons from the failed efforts of the past.

But the wealth disparity on the Island is not simply a housing problem. There is a worrisome and growing gap between the haves and the have nots, and genuine concerns about how the Island’s ethic is changing. And there is real risk in addressing affordable housing without also addressing the larger and thornier issue of growth.

The Island’s infrastructure — its roads, its schools, its landfills and wastewater treatment facilities — are already straining under the population the Island now has. Vacation homes are being built and rebuilt, ever larger. The Great Ponds are becoming dangerously polluted, endangering the Island’s sole-source aquifer, which provides clean drinking water for everyone. All this at a time when the practical effects of climate change — the regular flooding of Five Corners and the increasing likelihood of catastrophic storms — can no longer be ignored.

Additional housing, unless limited to rehabilitating the existing housing stock or linked to other infrastructure improvements, will only exacerbate this situation. And make no mistake: a housing bank will increase the Island’s population. Trying to limit affordable housing to people who are already here is as impractical as it is legally questionable.

The ice is indeed cracking, and it needs more than just a patch. Perhaps the laudable initiative to solve the affordable housing crisis can be a springboard for addressing the bigger question of what we all want the Island to become.