Vineyard Gazette
Capt. William Lewis has sold to a syndicate of Boston gentlemen all the land, wharf property, &c., of the West Point Land Co., on West Chop, Martha’s Vineyard.
West Chop
Housing and Development


It is important that in the rush to designate the entire Island as a “district of critical planning concern” that we not forget two other issues that have long been neglected on the Vineyard. The first is the urgent need for affordable housing. The second is the need for much more active comprehensive planning so that we will not lurch from crisis to crisis as we have been doing, while growth around us has continued unabated. This letter deals only with the first.
This will not be a treatise on affordable housing.


How’s this for a long view of the Vineyard, let’s say some time after the year 2000 when this fragile Island enters the 21st century.
  • A summer population of as much as 260,000.
  • More than 40,000 buildings situated on only 64,000 acres of Vineyard land.
  • Miles upon miles of asphalt roads criss-crossing back and forth across the length and breadth of the Island.
  • Housing construction riveted to rigid, evenly spaced grid plans, like another Levittown. Forget cluster development with open spaces and green buffer zones.


The 1960 census of housing of the U.S. Department of Commerce counted 5,340 housing units in Dukes County.


Most city dwellers take zoning as a matter of course. They know that without such protection there would be no strictly residential areas, no unspoiled park and recreation centers in their metropolis, no concentrated business districts; that the whole would be a confusion of purposes pleasing neither business nor inhabitant; that property would become devaluated, new industry discouraged, and eventually the people themselves would move to new locations in more orderly surroundings.


Dukes County boasts a total of 3,799 “housing units,” for its 5,669 inhabitants, according to revised figures issued by the U.S. Bureau of the Census for 1940. At the time the tally was made 1,699 of the houses were occupied, 524 were vacant and for sale or for rent, and 1,576 were vacant for other reasons.


A total of 36.8 per cent of the population of Dukes County, calculated on the 1930 census, is being supported by public funds either from the ERA, public welfare or soldiers’ relief, according to figures compiled by the Hyannis Regional ERA office for February.
For Dukes County, the accompanying table shows, the total relief load is 479 cases, supporting 1,820 persons.