Bowling Center Proposal on Martha’s Vineyard Sparks Heavy Debate

An attempt to build the first bowling center on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in over a decade has been met with mixed public opinion. Sam Reed, a local architect who developed the Tisbury Marketplace in Vineyard Haven, has proposed the demolition of unused property on Uncas avenue and build a bowling center with a restaurant.

Even before the February 6th hearing between Reed and the Martha’s Vineyard Committee, residents had already mobilized to protest the development of the 13,500-square-foot property that closely borders a residential neighborhood.

The proposal will include two affordable apartments, a 32-car parking lot to accompany the bowling center. The center – equipped with 10-lanes, a 44-seat restaurant, 18-seat bar, a game room and event room – is commercially zoned, but has met much dismay from the residents. Over 118 letters were sent to the Commission on the subject, while 800 residents signed a petition in favor of the project.

Commission DRI coordinator Paul Foley, told the Vineyard Gazette that the Oak Bluff neighborhood in which the complex will be built has been historically zoned as a business district, but as of recent it has been mostly residential and added,

“Virtually every one is a resident of Martha’s Vineyard and looking forward very much to this new recreational opportunity.”

Dunn also responded to previous concerns about alcohol and traffic, cutting off the service of bowling, food, and alcohol at 10:30pm on Sunday through Thursday and after 11:30pm on Friday and Saturday. He also said the event room will only be used twice-a-week from June 15 to Sept. 15, and a maximum of 50 people will be allowed at any event. As well, he offered to reserve the facility once a year, for three years, for a fundraiser for an Island housing organization.

Some of the other concerns are about the “impact to the community”, the sale of hard liquor, and the noise level nearby the residents. A debate has also been raised about the Commission bylaws pertaining to zoning. Since the neighborhood – zoned as a business district – is now being used primarily with residential property, many would like to see the zone changed.

The public hearing was closed with the written record left open until Feb. 27. The commission will probably vote on this issue at their March 6th meeting.

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