Tisbury selectmen approve Tashmoo Overlook agreement

The Tashmoo overlook view has narrowed over the years. The new agreement will allow the town to top trees on the left side of the view. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

A hearty round of applause from a standing room only crowd in the Tisbury Senior Center Tuesday night greeted a vote by Tisbury selectmen Tristan Israel and Jeff Kristal to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to restore some of the lost view of picturesque Lake Tashmoo from the overlook on State Road.

The agreement is between the town and Thomas and Virginia Payette, riparian landowners in the Plum Cove Association. Trees on the Payette property have reduced the view over the years.

Selectman Jonathan Snyder recused himself from the vote as he has from all discussions of the issue. Mr. Snyder is a member of a road association that abuts the Payettes’ property.

The MOU, essentially unchanged from the document selectmen discussed in June, allows the town to restore the view to essentially what it was two years ago, board chairman Jeff Kristal said.

“I will have conversations with the department of public works (DPW) to begin the work,” town administrator Jay Grande told The Times Wednesday. “I expect the work to begin almost tomorrow.” He said he thinks the agreement is an important first step in restoring the view that has been a topic of town discussion for seven years.

Not all in favor

Not everyone present Tuesday night applauded the agreement.

Patricia Carlet, a founder of the “Tashmoo Save the View” group which opposes the MOU, and group members displayed diagrams and presented arguments for restoring the view to what it was in 1907, during a period of public comment that lasted more than an hour.

“Is this meeting the only opportunity for public discussion?” Ms. Carlet asked selectmen.

“We have had seven years to discuss this issue,” Mr. Kristal said. “It has been in the papers, discussed at conservation committee meetings, at selectmen’s meetings. No, this is not the only opportunity. This is the opportunity to speak.”

Save the View group member Henry Stephenson, a member of the Tisbury planning board, said, “We want to work out an agreement that restores the entire view.” He said the MOU lacked specificity both in descriptions of the physical expectations and in the procedural requirements.

In good faith

Mr. Payette, accompanied at he meeting by his wife, spoke about their desire to work with the town to improve the view while maintaining some control over what happens on their own land. He said that as an architect he did not think the diagrams presented by the opposition group were an accurate depiction of the issue.

Bob Woodruff, a member of the committee that worked with the selectmen and the Payettes on the agreement, said that he has watched the view disappear for 25 years and as a conservationist would like to see it restored. He said he thinks the Payettes have negotiated in good faith and added, “the Payettes graciously took down three trees in 2010.”

The MOU includes requirements that both parties, the town and the Payettes, agree to any work that is done by the town on their trees, that all costs be paid for by the town, that the trees in question not be topped by more than 20 feet from the ground and that the town maintain a 20-foot “no-cut” buffer along the town property boundary.

The MOU stipulates that both parties meet on an annual basis to review and consider other selective trimming, topping or removal of vegetation or trees on the Payette property.

The agreement is for ten years but may be terminated 21 days from a notice of desire to terminate from either party.

Parking for sale

In other business, Mr. Grande said sale of parking spaces is proceeding in the lot where the former fire station on Beach Street stood. He said that parking bumpers are being painted and that some licenses have been issued.

In a follow up conversation, Mr. Grande told the Times that the town has leased 13 spaces of the 22 available spaces. The Mansion House has leased 7, the Chamber of Commerce 2 and the rest are individuals. Spaces cost $1,200 annually and $800 for six months.

In other news, selectmen voted to send a cease and desist letter to NSTAR to express their discontent with the new poles being installed along the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road and with what they consider to be excessive trimming of brush and trees and the lack of follow-through on cleaning up trimmed brush. Mr. Grande said that there has been a disconnect in communication from the utility. “NSTAR’s priorities are not the same as the town’s,” he said.

Selectmen asked that the DPW talk to representatives of the trash hauler ABC to inform them that they are in violation of town ordinances when they pick up trash before 7 am.

Selectmen agreed to ask the harbor master to address the issue of discarded fish carcasses near the town dock in Lake Tashmoo. Discussion centered around the unpleasant odor and contamination of the Lake.

Ken Maciel of The Tisbury Firefighters Association asked selectmen for permission to move their 7th annual car show from the Tisbury wharf to parts of Main and Union Streets on September 1. He said the show has increased in popularity and they need more room. He expects about 80 cars this year. The selectman agreed to endorse the move if there is no objection from businesses in the area.