In reading articles and comments in several local papers regarding early morning freight trucks, I am saddened to see the negative discourse and people pitted against people.

Yes, we have a problem! A problem that, if solved too expediently, will leave people on both sides of the argument deeply disenfranchised and at war with each other for decades. Or we have a problem that could call on us to use our best thinking and in doing so could strengthen bonds between communities, organizations and people.

I have lived on Woods Hole Road for over 25 years and some of the early morning trucks, in a word, suck. They are poorly operated and poorly maintained. They shake the front wall of my house and make it impossible to sleep. They arrive early and since they are banned from the Steamship terminal, they illegally park in the turnout that says “no parking” near FR Lillie Road until they can barrel down to the docks. Yet other trucks, properly maintained and skillfully operated, move down the road with a reasonable level of noise and allow a reasonable person to sleep.

And yes, some on the Vineyard are all about growth and commerce without regard to externalities. Bring on more people, bring one more supply; commerce full steam(ship) ahead. Their mantra appears to be, we need our stuff at all costs. As long as their costs are low.

And, of course, if I owned a transport company and did not have to deal with the externalities created by my trucks, why would I care? Heck, fuel prices are up, logistics are challenging, and drivers are hard to find. Who cares about some people living on Woods Hole Road? I just need to make a living.

Unless people are willing to stand down and work together, this fight is going to get worse and end up poorly. People on all sides of the argument have recourse. Some recourse will take longer than others to implement. But in the end, I am quite sure we can make life difficult for all while we lose our most precious asset. We will lose any sense of community.

Some will argue that in this day and age the idea of community is quickly disappearing, if not gone. And I guess this issue of early morning freight is testing that very question. My hope is that the people most able to lead the conversation and help us find a compromise will begin to do their jobs as true stewards. I am of course referring to the Steamship board. Please do not hide behind the imperfect language of the Enabling Act. The Steamship Authority affects lives and commerce in several communities. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could have an honest dialogue and work toward compromise? In the world of compromise there are no winners and no losers. There are balanced outcomes where we all give and take. Continuing to increase the size and frequency of trucks rolling through Woods Hole in the early morning hours smacks of a lack of compromise. I sure hope we can do better.…Time is running out and history will judge the leadership of Steamship by their ability to find compromise.

Stephen Laster

Woods Hole Road


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