From Gazette editions of November, 1970:

The Island of the future, as envisioned in the study released last month by the Dukes County Planning and Economic Development Commission, has been the subject of an open meeting on Wednesday in the Dukes County Courthouse.

On hand to answer questions about the predictions that, by 1990, the Vineyard will need another town, and will have a summer population of 75,000, was Calvin Cook, a consulting planner with the Metcalf and Eddy firm hired last year to make the prognostication.

Local community controls are essential if the Vineyard is to be preserved with its present open spaces and towns, Mr. Cook emphasized. “It is beautiful,” he said, “to have 80 per cent of the Island undeveloped, but it may not stay that way. Water can be polluted and land, similarly, can be polluted in the way that it is used — and this sort of pollution sometimes has gone too far before you know it,” he added, urging intelligent planning of Vineyard growth and development, with the continued attention of the selectmen of each town.

From the selectmen, Mr. Cook sought information on the Vineyard’s dumps since state law is requiring an end to burning in all Massachusetts dumps next summer.

Albert O. Fischer Jr. of the Chilmark selectmen apprised Mr. Cook of the fact that his town has been talking of a landfill dump “provided we could find someone who wanted glass and paper. That’s the kind we’d like to have if we could have it ourselves and not regionalize.” (There has been discussion in the past on one central dump for all Island towns.)

Other problems considered were the increasing trend for one person to buy large tracts of land and allow no one access, traffic jams ­ particularly at the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority wharf and in the neighborhood of the Gay Head Cliffs, and the pros and cons of federally financed road construction.

Mrs. Thelma Weissberg of the Gay Head selectmen said she hoped there would be no opposition from other Island towns if Gay Head tried to alleviate its traffic disorders by constructing a parking lot near the cliffs at which a fee would be paid. John L. Schilling talked of how 70 per cent of the steamship traffic leaves the wharf along one road and wondered if the authority could ever be “cajoled into moving over onto the Beach Road area so cars would have two directions in which to go.” There was even a half-jocular discussion of moving the authority to the head of the Lagoon.

An inquiry was made, in view of the recent defeat of zoning in Vineyard Haven, if there might not be some way of preserving the Island by having it declared an historic district. Mr. Cook replied that this was primarily an architectural control of a community and is done street by street rather than on any larger scale.

On the subject of roads, Mr. Fischer commented that he feared that the day when towns would have to accept federal aid for their roads was not far off, “though I don’t think any of the towns want it.” Mr. Cook warned sternly about the danger of building wider roads that would change the entire character of up-Island, and spoke, also, of the uneconomic aspect of constructing such roads that are only required in the summer season.

Stephen C. Gentle of Edgartown talked about Katama, and the temptations to sell acreage there, and wanted to know what would be the wisest land use for that vast plain. Mrs. Daniel P. Gaines said that she had always imagined that it would stay unique and untouched, suggesting that perhaps it should be made a target for town or county ownership.

Mr. Cook told, how, in the 1930s, the National Wildlife Service had wanted to take over the beach land between Edgartown and Gay Head to protect the wildfowl that abounded there, but had lacked the money. “Between Chappaquiddick and Gay Head,” he said, “is just a jewel in terms of megalopolis. There’s no place like it along the whole eastern seacoast as far as I’m concerned.”

Dean R. Swift, chairman of the Dukes County Planning and Development Commission proposed that there were other equally handsome stretches of the Island that should be looked into as prospective areas for town ownership.

From Vineyard Haven came the question relating to Island towns. “Is it better to concentrate population there or control town growth and have the population spread over other areas?”

Mr. Cook explained that the additional head-of-the-Lagoon town that he and his fellow-planners had proposed for the Vineyard was an attempt to keep settlements down-Island. He said he envisioned the new settlement as having access to the Lagoon for recreational purposes, but perhaps extending as far as the Regional High School, where a junior college campus might be built.

He said he would not expect such a settlement to begin with residential use, but with a shopping center and allied business facilities, and, perhaps, public housing.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox