If Guam Can Capsize and Tip Over, Is Martha’s Vineyard Next?

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) is the regional planning agency for Martha’s Vineyard Island and the Elizabeth Islands (together, comprising the County of Dukes County).

The mission of the MVC is twofold: (1.) To assist our region’s 7 towns (Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Gosnold, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, & West Tisbury) with planning expertise; and (2.) Protect and enhance the islands’ environment, economy, character, and social fabric.

This august committee has decided they should determine how many of us tourists can hop on board the island. This should be interesting.

Photo by Ray Ewing

In essence, some folks on the island are sure it, like Guam, is going to tip over and sink, because, shockingly, people want to enjoy the beaches, hotels, bars, and restaurants. They want to shop. They buy or rent houses seasonally. That is some breaking news.

But the commission, in their progressive wisdom,  as reported by the Gazette, “confirmed this week that they are in discussion with the Army Corps research division in the hopes of undertaking the approximately $500,000 project. The study would holistically examine current infrastructure and potential buildout, showing how factors like wastewater, supply chain needs, energy use, erosion, housing and more will determine the eventual carrying capacity of the Vineyard.” The Gazette article refers to carrying capacity as “upper limits of growth”.

Hmmmmm, I interpret that to mean Barack and Michelle can have 500 people to a birthday party but if I have a family reunion for twenty, I could be told my group exceeds the carrying capacity?

You know the Chipster’s of the island, whose family has been summering since 1965, won’t be told they’re part of the capacity group. It’ll be Brenda and Robert, down from Brockton, on a much needed vacation from their hectic jobs, dying to sit on the beach and get some ice cream – they’ll be told, sorry no, MVY is closed today.

The whole concept seems insane to me – the commission will find $500k, do a study, then say, gee, ya know what, maybe it’s unconstitutional to determine an upper limit of growth. Seems illegal to me, and almost as funny as the old Candid Camera episode, located at the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware in Centreville, with a person who told drivers that Delaware is Closed today. I can’t find that particular Candid Camera episode, but here’s a generic classic Allen Funt. They are sill funny today!

7 thoughts on “If Guam Can Capsize and Tip Over, Is Martha’s Vineyard Next?

  1. Circling back to your recent visit to the tired old Norwalk Walmart on the Post Rd.There is a much nicer one on rt. 7 on the Norwalk/Wilton border. It’s a bit newer and better stocked & staffed. I wouldn’t go to the other one far any reason. Just hop on the Merritt, get off the 7North exit & Bob’s your uncle.

  2. My family has been summering on MVY since the mid 1940s when West Tisbury, where my family has a house, was 100% agrarian. It was around the 1960s I remember my grandfather telling me things changed. Hippies, damn hippies he’d say. Drugs. Long hair. More cars. Bars were packed at night. I’m sure to him the island felt liked it reached capacity.

    There’s some merit in the study, mostly from the infrastructure angle, but I agree putting an upper limit on the numbers of people is doomed to fail.

    Edgartown is impossible to navigate by car. Vineyard Haven, forget about getting around, but the tourist dollar is the bread and butter for the year round resident who makes 95% of his annual income from
    May to October.

    1. Chip! Thanks for the great story. I can only imagine how beautiful West Tisbury was then. I will say tho, that of all the vineyard towns, WT has remained the most true to its roots and character. Lucky you to have family there.
      I lived on MVY year round in the 1970s. It was impossible then to get from the airport to the Chappy Ferry in the summer peak. The congestion of cars in Edgartown was intense. But you hit the nail on the head. We working stiffs never had days off during the summer so we could earn enough money to survive the winter if your job was strictly seasonal.

  3. Every year our family rents condos in Katama for two weeks in July. We skipped 2020 but went this year from the 5th-19th. We bring our bicycles and pretty much bike into town or to the beach. The crowd is part of the summer scene, seeing friends in line for ice cream is half the fun. Edgartown didn’t seem any more congested than years previous. The study is a losing proposition.

  4. What really got me about this post was your reference to the “Delaware is Closed” Candid Camera episode. To my late father, it was THE funniest thing he had ever seen! He talked about it all the time, and just thinking about it made him crack up.
    So thank you for making my dad laugh again – at least in my head I can hear that joyful sound.

    1. Oh so sweet a memory.

      Candid Candid was one of the best shows on TV ever. While they pranked people it was always done with a good spirit. No malintent. Maybe people were less angry at life then? Or they were genuinely surprised at what happened because they hadn’t seen it on TikTok seventy billion times before.

      Our current connected society seems to have removed the spontaneity that was Candid Camera’s jam. We watched it every week. Laughed our heads off.

      There’s a Candid Camera You Tube channel with highlight reels from various old shows. But I couldn’t find single episodes.

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