Do no harm to the Mill Pond

To the Editor:

The headline in the April 13 edition of the Vineyard Gazette, “West Tisbury Backs Library, Dredging,” declared that voters overwhelmingly backed a dredging plan for the manmade Mill Pond.

In fact, Article 13, placed on the annual town meeting warrant by the town’s Mill Pond committee (MPC), simply requested permission from town meeting to pursue grant funding for an undefined project at the Mill Pond. This article was approved by town meeting voters, but only after being amended to include the provision that the MPC must come back to town meeting for permission to spend said money, before any project moves forward at the Mill Pond.

At this point, the only plans that exists are several conceptual designs in the report that the MPC obtained from their consultant, ESS Group. These conceptual designs range in cost from $150,000 to $700,000, with hardly any detail as to how these costs were arrived at and exactly zero detail as to how the MPC proposes to maintain them over time and those associated costs. This report cost taxpayers $22,400 in Community Preservation Act funds, with an additional $1,000 spent to have Carl Nielsen of ESS Group come to give the short presentation at town meeting on April 10. These conceptual designs will not improve the habitat at Mill Pond for our native fish and wildlife and are not sustainable over time.

Stated goals in the ESS Group report of sediment and nutrient uptake in the constructed wetland component of their conceptual design are likely already being accomplished in shallow areas in the upper end of the Mill Pond, for free. Water quality in the pond, aside from being warm, is very good, partly because the Mill Brook stream flow adds and removes about three times the volume of the Mill Pond (185,000 cubic feet) each day.

Townspeople who enjoy the Mill Pond can continue to do so without spending a dime. There is no need to do anything so environmentally detrimental as dredging the pond. It’s fine, and it’s not going to disappear anytime soon.

At the very least, do no more harm.

Prudy Burt

West Tisbury