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Swimming Pools on Martha's Vineyard Gain Popularity Amid Summer Rental Demand

2023

The allure of swimming pools on Martha's Vineyard has surged in recent years, driven by growing demand from the summer rental market for properties with enhanced amenities. Over the past two decades, Edgartown and Chilmark alone have issued more than 750 pool permits, indicating a significant increase in pool construction.

In Edgartown, the number of pool constructions reached its peak in 2021, with 75 pool permits awarded. The following year, in 2022, 46 pool permits were approved, still marking an almost eightfold rise from 2001 when only six pools received approval.

Similarly, Chilmark experienced a peak in 2021 with 24 pool permits, which decreased to 11 permits in 2022. Back in 2001, only three pools were permitted in Chilmark.

Local officials and activists are grappling with this growing trend and its impact on the Island economy. Pool installation on rental properties is viewed as a wise investment by realtors, as it often doubles the rental cost, making it appealing to investors looking for higher returns.

Private pools have become increasingly desirable for vacationers, transforming vacation homes into hotel-like accommodations with additional amenities.

However, this pool-building trend raises concerns among conservationists and some officials. Critics worry about the impact on the natural beauty of the Island and its resources. Some raise concerns about the use of fossil fuels to heat pools and the potential impact on the Island's aquifer due to the increased water usage.

Efforts to regulate pool constructions often face limitations due to statutory constraints, making it challenging for local officials to enact stricter rules. While some towns like Chilmark have imposed stringent safety requirements for pool construction, others, like Edgartown, have more relaxed regulations.

Despite some fluctuations in the number of pool permits awarded in 2022, the overall trend indicates a continued rise in pool constructions on Martha's Vineyard. This has led to discussions within the community about the direction the Island is taking and whether to implement changes to preserve its unique character and appeal.

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