Mill Pond muddle leads to resignation
Although the three West Tisbury Mill Pond Committee members were officially of two minds regarding the condition of the pond and the possible need for dredging, the town selectmen approved the requests of both factions for "next steps" at their meeting on October 28.
At that meeting, committee member Kent Healy recommended that the selectmen approve the continued measurement, above and below Mill Pond, of the quality and quantity of the Mill Brook, which flows through the pond. He also advised continuing to cut brush and weeds at the upstream face of the dam that controls the flow of water out of the pond, and measuring the rate of sedimentation in the pond. The selectmen unanimously approved Mr. Healy's motion.
Mr. Healy stated again, as he had previously, that there is no need for dredging. "I am interested in the fact that people are saying the pond is getting smaller, and there are no signs that the pond is getting smaller," he said.
Then, on November 1, Mr. Healy, a civil engineer, resigned from the committee, after the selectmen agreed, also on October 28, to the recommendation of the other two members of the pond committee who wanted to begin work on the design and permitting of a dredging project,
"I was disappointed," Mr. Healy wrote the selectmen, "by the October 28 vote of the board to have the Mill Pond Committee start the design and permitting for the dredging of the Mill Pond. I cannot, in good conscience, participate in such a wasteful and environmentally degrading project, and hereby resign from the Mill Pond Committee."
The pro-dredging fragment of the fragmented committee
In contrast, Mill Pond committee members Bob Woodruff and Craig Saunders said on October 28, as they have at two early selectmen's meetings, that a "dredging project is the most feasible and effective means for restoring the Mill Pond."
At last week's selectmen's meeting, Mr. Woodruff and Mr. Saunders placed before the selectmen a motion that the dredging project be divided into three phases - engineering, permitting, and construction.
Mr. Saunders and Mr. Woodruff asked the selectmen to approve the motion and allow them to apply to the town's Community Preservation Committee (CPC) for $25,000 to undertake the engineering design needed. The CPC funding would then need to be approved at the town meeting in April. The selectmen approved the Woodruff/ Saunders motion.
The selectmen asked Jen Rand, the executive secretary, to place an advertisement in the MV Times seeking a replacement committee member. Mr. Knabel mentioned that originally the selectmen had wanted five members to serve on the committee, got only three volunteers, and with the resignation of Mr. Healy the committee was down to only two members.
Also on October 28, the selectmen unanimously agreed to sign a "letter of support" on behalf of the Fischer family's plans to seek from the state an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on approximately 60 acres of the family's Flat Point Farm. The Commonwealth's APR program offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their farmland, in exchange for a permanent deed restriction that prohibits any use of the land that will damage the land's agricultural viability.
The selectmen also agreed unanimously to the request of Jim Powell, the town's appointed Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) representative, for the submission of a letter of support to assist the MVC as it drafts and files an amicus ("friend of the court") brief with the Superior Judicial Court (SJC) on behalf of the Cape Cod Commission (CCC) regarding the Cape Wind project. Mr. Powell reminded the selectmen that the CCC needs the support of Vineyard towns, as the CCC advocates for the region's interests under the Ocean Management Plan.
Mr. Powell said, "If we don't support the CCC, de facto policy will be set that the Energy Facility Planning Board will run the show."
In agreeing to Mr. Powell's request, selectman Richard Knable stated, "this letter of support is a good idea for us. We should be in solidarity to be sure that a chain of jurisdiction is made clear."
Before adjourning, the selectmen also approved the request of the winter farmer's market organizers to use the Agriculture Hall. They also scheduled the town's holiday party for December 10, from 5-8 pm also at the Ag Hall.