12 Months of August?

by: David Creed

photography by: Chris Tran

Select Board member Matt Fee worries that Nantucket is growing too fast. Planning Commission chairman Nat Lowell believes the issue isn’t that the island is growing too fast, but that it isn’t embracing the changes necessary to accommodate that growth.

Any discussion of a long-term vision for the island might be framed between the polar opposite positions of Fee and Lowell. Framed this way, the discussion is both what needs to be done and how to do it.

Integral to that question is whether we should be looking at the long-term consequences of

growth, exploring the idea of carrying capacity, or depending solely on a state-mandated master plan.

The Question of Growth

Fee says there is a misconception that any growth is good and that people believe the more growth we have, the better off the island will be.

“That is true if growth is paying for itself or giving you a little more, but that is not true if it isn’t,” he said. “I would argue that over the past 20 to 30 years we have grown faster than any place in the commonwealth. But we are so far behind on our infrastructure, on our staffing, and on a lot of other issues. I would argue that it hasn’t paid for itself.”

Lowell disagrees.

He says the biggest issue facing the island is the education of voters on town proposals intended to address growth and that many issues the island faces could be remedied if people understood the proposed solutions better.

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