Fence is a bad idea

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To the Editor:

The M.V. Land Bank was created by an act of the Massachusetts legislature in 1986. Quoting from the Land Bank’s home page, “MV Island has witnessed unprecedented change in the most recent decades. Farming declined; centuries-old pastures and fields were left to knot into vines and shrubs. The ‘freedom to roam’ was curtailed as fences were erected across trails, beaches were gated off, and hunting was restricted. Few of these problems could be solved by planning boards and conservation commissions only; the Vineyard needed a new type of land agency. Now, 30 years later, the LB has conserved 3,100 acres; this is approximately 5 percent of the Island. The commission’s revenue is generated by a 2 percent public surcharge on most real estate transfers occurring in the six towns … Farmers, hikers, beachcombers, birders, hunters, and many, many others are all constituents of the Land Bank, and all deserve to have some land set aside for their special needs.”

While the Land Bank has conserved 3,100 acres, there are 22,221 acres on the Island that are conserved/open space. This represents 39 percent of the Island (M.V. Commission 2016). While I love the stunning beauty of this Island and believe that conservation is essential for Martha’s Vineyard, I would like to see more money going into affordable housing, which is a desperate need on this Island.

The property I am speaking of in this letter is Trade Wind Fields Preserve, 71.8 acres, acquired by the Land Bank in 1986. This property is enjoyed by many — biking, walking and jogging, and dog walking. A portion of the property is still used as an airstrip, but landings are few. This is by far the largest property on the Island where dogs can play and socialize off-leash, while their owners meet to visit, and have forged lasting friendships and support for one another. The Land Bank has decided that dogs and their owners, bikers, walkers, and joggers are public enemy No. 1, and are fencing Trade Wind Fields Preserve. The hideous galvanized fencing and paths pushed as close to the woods as possible are speaking to all of the users of this property: “GO AWAY!” In the Land Bank’s own words: “All constituents deserve to have some land set aside for their special needs.” All who have enjoyed the absolute beauty of this old grass airstrip for over 30 years are being told that OUR special needs no longer matter. Constituents with disabilities can park their car in the designated space at the trailhead; none of the new trails will accommodate their needs.

Don’t put up a fence that is not needed and not required by the National Heritage Trust. Respect your Oak Bluffs Land Bank Advisory Committee’s request to delay the fence.

Return Trade Wind Fields Preserve to the dogs and their people, the bicyclers, and joggers — your constituents. We can all coexist with the few planes that land, and will give wide berth to the endangered grasses and the beetles. The grass is growing and healthy! Don’t fence this stunning vista.

Rita Brown
Edgartown