SMF dedicates new trail link

The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF) weathered the storm, literally. On Monday afternoon it rained heavily for the first time in weeks, and that evening the Vineyard’s private, nonprofit land trust held its annual summer benefit at Brookside Farm off Middle Road in Chilmark.

Undaunted by a field turned in sections to mud, Sheriff’s Meadow leaders used the occasion to announce the completion of a new walking trail that is the final link in a continuous path between North Road and South Road in Chilmark. The trail will be open to walking, horseback riding, and bicycling.

The Stephen R. Crampton Trail at Brookside Ridge Preserve memorializes the land trust’s former president, a pivotal figure in the evolution of the conservation organization’s mission. Mr. Crampton died January 23 of leukemia.

The evening schedule included dinner for the majority of the 450 ticket holders who attended, and a performance by Aquinnah singer-songwriter Kate Taylor, in a large tent set up in an open field in the picturesque farm that adjoins the Tiasquam River.

The earlier heavy downpour created a muddy obstacle trap at the entrance to the field where event organizers had planned to have guests park their vehicles. Adam Moore, SMF executive director said he knew he had a problem about 3 pm when the man bringing sound equipment became stuck. Mr. Moore used his four-wheel drive truck to pull the vehicle out, a service he would repeat throughout the evening.

“We just had to go to plan B,” Mr. Moore told The Times Tuesday morning. But first, he had to come up with plan B.

Mr. Moore called Eleanor Neubert, president of the Agricultural Society for permission to park cars on the Ag Hall grounds off Panhandle Road in West Tisbury. Then he rounded up every cab he could secure to ferry guests.

In welcoming remarks Monday night, Emily Bramhall, SMF president, thanked the organization’s “very dedicated and very stalwart supporters.” Mr. Moore told The Times people were good-humored about the inconvenience.

It was a costly detour. Mr. Moore did not have a final tally but at $75 per hour per cab he expected it would cut into much-needed revenue. “We just had to make do,” Mr. Moore said in a phone conversation Tuesday.

The logistics took little away from the evening, Ms. Taylor’s performance, or the announcement of a new public trail.

In his remarks, Mr. Moore thanked Wendy Gimbel and Douglas Liebhafsky, hosts and owners of the farm, Jerome and Carol Kenney, and Stan Panitz, the land donors who collectively made the trail possible.

Mr. Moore said one of Sheriff’s Meadow’s chief goals is to connect its lands to the Island community, and one key way of doing that is through trails.

“By completing a connection to the land bank’s Tiasquam Valley Reservation and Waskosim’s Rock Reservation, the new trail connects hundreds of acres of conservation land and creates a continuous trail system between North Road and South Road,” Mr. Moore said.

Mr. Moore said that Mr. Crampton, a lawyer who served on the SMF board from 2002 to 2010 and as president from 2006 to 2008, enjoyed working on SMF trails and saw a purpose in their creation. “Steve believed that as a tax-exempt charity owning two thousand acres of tax-exempt land, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation has an obligation to contribute to the community in a tangible manner,” Mr. Moore said. “One way that Steve believed Sheriff’s Meadow could contribute was by creating trails on our properties. I recall fondly his support for the establishment of this trail at Brookside Ridge Preserve.”

Mr. Moore presented Susan Crampton with a framed resolution honoring her husband.

In her remarks, Mrs. Crampton, a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital board, said her husband would have been embarrassed to be recognized so visibly but proud to see the inclusion of the public in creating the trail network. “He always cherished Sheriff’s Meadow’s nonprofit status and companion public responsibility,” she said, “This evening’s trail dedication is truly a wonderful example of what Steve believed in.”

SMF will host a walk on the new Stephen R. Crampton Trail at 10 am, Friday. Parking will be available off Middle Road just past Brookside Farm traveling up-Island.