To the Editor:
West Tisbury town warrant Article 32 for the Community Preservation Act committee’s (CPC) funding appropriation of $30,000 is for the design and permitting in preparation for dredging the Mill Pond. It is unanimously supported by the West Tisbury CPC committee and is “contingent upon the commitment of $20,000 from private sources to undertake the design and permitting work which is estimated to cost $50,000.” It further defines co-operation with the Mill Brook Watershed Study and that “work will not proceed before additional town meeting action and the completion of both the watershed study and the design and permit process.”
This article is further supported by the West Tisbury Mill Pond Committee. The official report prepared for the town “Final Report Engineering and Environmental Studies for the Mill Pond” by ESS Group on January 16, 2012 is the basis for this support. Best explained by Anna Alley of the committee “The studies will tell you that the pond is in an advanced stage of eutrophication, meaning full of enriched sediment which encourages the growth of vegetation; a process which will only intensify is some of that sediment is not removed.” The report is available on the town website at www.westtisbury-gov – enter Final Report Mill Pond Study in the search. It is well worth the read. We have.
In a letter to the editor published Sept. 26, 2012 (“The Mill Pond decision, a complex, expensive calculus”) Bob Woodruff wrote that loss of ponds like the Mill Pond and others upstream to a shrub swamp habitat would “fail to provide that open water quality so attractive to many water loving vertebrates, including humans. Gone would be the small, intensely wary flocks of teal, ring-necked ducks, and other waterfowl that use these largely secluded ponds in spring and fall passage. Not mention the loss of osprey and kingfisher, that regularly fish the ponds. And the beloved otter would likely be reduced in numbers also. As well as the photographer, the bird watcher, the leaf peeper, and the hunter. So too, we who are destined to endure the annual Christmas Bird Count, for these ponds , when not fully iced, provide rare winter sightings of teal, wood duck, hooded merganser, kingfisher, and other open water foragers.”
It’s true. We’ve seen them all. He goes on to further state that that the sediment is “clearly moving and accumulating in the pond at a rate far greater than we had imagined,” based on silt trap work done by him and Craig Saunders. This was in 2012.
Barbara Day eloquently wrote in her recent Letter to the Editor that the Mill Pond, along with other rare and cherished town sites “proclaims that West Tisbury is not just a pass-through town…it’s a town where people care about their environment – slowing down perhaps, enjoying nature, sharing a pastoral history as well as modern amenities. There is nothing worthwhile that doesn’t need maintenance.” How right she is.
In the same way that we maintain and repair our public buildings such as the town hall and the library of late, that we work to conserve vistas like Brandy Brow and preserve historic homes, that we hold and restore properties such as the Field Gallery and the West Tisbury Congregational Church, that numerous families with multi-generational town histories have placed vast acreage into conservation and agriculture in perpetuity, it is time to take care of the historic gateway of our town.
This warrant article calls for the next step in the process of determining what that should be. It is speaks to future contingencies. It speaks to a process that is six years in the making. It speaks to collaboration between the public and private sectors of our town. Anna Alley says it best when she says the time has come for the voters to decide pond or no pond. We support warrant Article 32 and the continuation of the process.
Bill and Selena Roman
Correction: An earlier version of this letter incorrectly referenced an essay by Nelson Bryant as the source of a quote. In fact, the quote was pulled from a letter dated Sept. 26, 2012 by Bob Woodruff.