To the Editor:
On Wednesday, January 30, close to 40 people attended the West Tisbury Selectmen’s Forum on the future of the Mill Pond. Three options were presented: no action on the pond; preservation with dredging; and conversion of the Mill Pond to a stream.
Though the future of the Mill Pond is West Tisbury’s decision, it is also an Island-wide issue given the pond’s iconic and historic significance as the gateway to the historic village of West Tisbury and the up-Island communities. The choices are:
1. No action, which will result in continued growth of weeds and brush filling in the pond, as has happened in the past.
2. Support of restoration of the Mill Pond by dredging, which has been voted upon at two recent West Tisbury town meetings. Two consultants hired by the town have recommended dredging as the most effective method for restoring the pond. The selectmen’s Mill Pond Committee has also recommended dredging.
3. Converting the Mill Pond to a stream which is a Mill Brook project. By eliminating the water damming that creates the Mill Pond, the town, in reality, would be initiating the first step in a long-term plan to connect the entire length of the Mill Brook to the ocean. The goal is ecologic, enabling diadromous fish to travel back and forth in the entire Mill Brook to the sea. Ultimately to accomplish this, all six of the private dams from the Mill Pond to the head waters of the Mill Brook will have to be removed.
The pros and cons for each option are too many to enumerate here. Cost, of course, is an important factor. No action involves no cost. Based on preliminary estimates, the cost of dredging could range between $250,000 to $400,000, and the conversion to a stream around $588,000. It appears to me that the main issue, however, is whether to retain and restore the Mill Pond for not only its aesthetic and historic importance but also its recreational and wildlife habitat benefits versus embarking upon a long-term project to connect the Mill Brook to the sea for its ecologic benefits. These are two very different objectives and Islanders should be aware of these choices and their ramifications.