Perhaps the most frequent question posed to island people is, “What do you do in the winter?”. I get the feeling that many of our summer friends have a vision of a big, domed platter cover coming down from the sky to envelop Vineyard while the locals hibernate from New Years Day until Memorial Day Weekend. Ah, not so. Entertainment is at a minimum, but far from non-existent. It’s just that we have a lot more of everything in the summer.
But I’m getting off track here. Mostly, what we’re doing here in the winter, is getting ready for the return of all our off Island friends in the Spring! A summer resort takes a huge amount of maintenance! The biggest projects this year are our bridges! I’m sure you have all watched the slow progress of the building of the temporary Lagoon Bridge between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Well, it finally opened this month! It took two barges to being over the new drawbridge section AND the incredible crane that put it in its place. Now the old bridge is being cut up into sections and taken away the same way. The temporary bridge is such an impressive structure, it’s hard to believe that it too must eventually meet the same demise. By the time you return this year, the new permanent bridge will be well underway.
Moving along to the other side of Oak Bluffs…Watching the progress on Little Bridge and Big Bridge (as they are affectionately known), along the Beach Road to Edgartown, is an education in engineering in itself. If you were one of the lucky ones who had your 2009 visit spill over into the beautiful fall, you watched as the mobile traffic lights were erected and both bridges lost their ocean side lanes. Since then the rebuilding has begun, with barges, cranes and equipment I’ve never seen before. Talk about a feat of engineering? How do those four story cranes withstand the gale winds that have been blowing across the pond? And while I’m at it, I’d like to applaud the work crews and traffic cops battling the same winds and storms, sometimes so concealed under thick winter clothing that all you can see is a slit of their sunglass covered eyes. But progress is what they are making, and I’m sure by the summer, all kids (young and old), will be jumping off the newly rebuilt Big Bridge. And when they leave in September, the traffic lights, cranes and construction crews will return to perform the same magic on the pond side of the road next winter.
Going back into Oak Bluffs Center, its east to get distracted, as there’s no more Steamship Authority ferry terminal. There again, all you see are large cranes, some very strange looking, large vehicles, and a pile of humongous boulders. Yes, we are finally going to get a new terminal. But not without complications. It seems the old foundation has massive cracks in it, so instead of building the new building structure on it as originally planned, it will have to be replaced too. Why does everything end up costing more? (It’s the same at my house!) But things are taking shape. If you can see between all the equipment smothering the dock, you can make out shiny new railings. All should be pretty spiffy for the 2010 season.
And last but not least, lets not forget two major construction projects coming to an end soon and both adding huge new services to the Island – the brand new YMCA and the shiny new, state of the art hospital, both opening this spring. The hospital opening was supposed to have been in February, but due to some faulty flooring adhesive, it has been moved back until April. Details. details. But not to worry, you will have a state-of-the-art facility to bring your skinned knees and sunburns to this summer.
So, you see, life hardly stops on the Island when the days get shorter. In fact, there is quite an impressive flurry of activity. And what does all of this winter maintenance say to you? I sincerely hope the message is that we really care for and about our summer family and want to offer you the very best when you return to us!!
Thanks Ray - we really enjoy sharing our beautiful Island with everyone.
A fascinating, content-laden, passionate series of articles...well done. My compliments, Ray