Save Money For Islanders

John Sylvia •

To the editor: I own and operate the oldest family-owned business in downtown, it spans three generations and happily, we are entering our 97th year in business. I’m a resounding NO on Article 59. Through the years I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and if there were no short-term rentals (STRs) my business would be at a whole new ugly level. Thank God I’m never going to have to worry about that situation, despite the proponents of Article 59 claiming so.

Article 59 would seal open the floodgates to permanently allow full-time STR businesses across Nantucket. I am not an attorney but I do know how to read. I have read Judge Vhay’s ruling a few times and he clearly states that STRs are legal as an accessory use in residential neighborhoods, but that fully commercial STRs are not.

This line between commercial and residential activity was drawn when zoning was voted in back in 1972. Article 59 wants us islanders to hand over the keys to off-island STR investors and change the island forever. Growing up in a family with both parents being small business owners I learned what "shop local" was all about. All the merchants worked together and it was all about keeping the money on the island, that was the Walter Beineke motto. The merchant association and even the chamber back then were strong and were about supporting merchants. Don’t forget the stroll was created due to the birth of the Cape Cod Mall, it was to keep islanders from going on that boat and having a sale to keep the Christmas money on-island. Obviously, times have changed and now at the Stroll, most islanders want to leave for the weekend, and I get to sell to a drunk guy dressed up as a cartoon character. And it’s okay, it’s the way it works today.

Penny Dey had a letter a week or two ago in the Current and ended it with a shout-out to the forefathers of the 20th century who thought with preservation in mind, with quality over quantity, strict building codes, and just selling uniqueness and character.

They also knew the importance of keeping the money on the island, that is why they were the ones behind the zoning code that we rely on to protect the island today. Our forefathers didn’t want off-island investors building hotels in residential neighbors… They wanted to keep the money on the island and continue the 100-plus-year tradition of renting with the money staying on the Island. Today, not only do we have off-island investors collecting hundreds of thousands each summer, we have more money going off-island with cleaners, painters, builders, mowers, etc. In my world that is called a double net loss!

Save Nantucket Jobs for islanders! Vote NO on Article 59 and let’s find a compromise and strengthen the accessory usage for islanders and seasonal residents and move on!

John Sylvia

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