18 Nov 2014

Stop And Grow On Nantucket

In her 1970’s blockbuster hit, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell reminds all of us that “we don’t know what we got ’til it’s gone.” She also causes us to pause and consider the wisdom in “paving paradise to put up a parking lot” (so to speak). For those of us who love Nantucket and who have been here for a week or a lifetime, there is an on-going challenge to move the island (its infrastructure, utilities, amenities) forward while simultaneously holding tight to the reins of our history, our green open spaces and the “paradise” we all covet.  

Change is never easy and rarely welcome…particularly on an island ripe with generations of families dating back to the 1600’s. But it’s necessary and sometimes we have no choice but to interrupt our lives and normal course of business if we’re to continue to grow and prosper both as a tourist destination and a sustainable community. Growth and change are on full display on Nantucket this fall. Some of it is inconvenient, most of it quite impressive, all of it is controversial…especially when social media makes it easy to express opinions.

One of the projects directly impacting the entire local community this fall and winter is the expansion project at the Stop and Shop. With a complete re-build of the entire mid-island complex, the goal is a much larger store and hopefully a more streamlined parking area. It is a slow and painful process as shoppers have been left with a miniature version of the original store, a skeleton inventory of goods and a handful of parking spots to vie for. Yet, it’s also been an opportunity for Nantucket residents to shine. Nobody loses their cool as they courteously wait for their neighbor to load their car so they can slide into the open parking spot. Others offer assistance in finding the elusive pasta sauce or graham crackers and then share a collective chuckle as the treasure hunt continues. Instinctively we all know this is necessary change…and we’re willing to power through it together to get to the other side.

There are other necessary changes underway island-wide. Virtually every downtown street is torn up to install a new sewer system. The Boys and Girls Club and the Artists Association of Nantucket are in the process of large scale building projects to provide top shelf facilities for our youth and local artists. Perhaps the most controversial project currently on the docket is the Nantucket Cottage Hospital expansion. They are meeting opposition with each new location proposal…because understandably no one wants to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” (or a hospital). Yet, everyone concurs that change and growth are critical to the health needs of our island, so ultimately an agreement will be reached that will make Nantucket, its people and its services better.

Take some time this winter to assess some of the many important changes unfolding on Nantucket…and then stop by one of the beautiful beaches or conservation areas to celebrate the things that remain the same.


Shellie Dunlap
Broker & Rental Specialist
Lee Real Estate

Shellie Dunlap, Real Estate Broker and Author of "A Nantucket Experience"

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