West Tisbury ConCom approves Ice House Pond plan
The West Tisbury conservation commission (ConCom) cleared the way on Tuesday for the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank to provide public access to Ice House Pond.
The ConCom, which has permitting authority under wetlands protection laws, unanimously approved with conditions the Land Bank's application to build trails and construct a swim perch.
Matthew Dix, Land Bank property superintendent, said that for the most part the conditions fit with the Land Bank's management plan and Natural Heritage and Endangered Species requirements.
Mr. Dix, who attended the meeting, said he was unwilling to agree to a ConCom request that the Land Bank provide water quality data reports to the ConCom as a condition.
A summer-like autumn afternoon on Ice House Pond. Photo by Mae Deary
Mr. Dix told The Times that the information is readily available as part of the state's reporting requirements and exceeded the ConCom's review authority so he resisted its inclusion as a condition. In the end the ConCom agreed to drop the request.
Yesterday, Land Bank executive director James Lengyel said the work would begin to open the 12-acre Manaquayak Preserve to the public. "The ConCom's order of conditions allows work to begin in November and we will, so people can be ice skating this winter and then in the summer they can trade their ice skates for swim trunks," he said.
Mr. Lengyel said it has been a long haul, but the Land Bank is used to the long haul. "It's always the same for the Land Bank in terms of the process," he said, "but we are glad we are here."
The Land Bank purchased the building lots in November 2004, using a straw buyer to mask its interest from multiple sellers who, the Land Bank said, would likely not have sold to the public agency. The total purchase price was $2 million.
The property has undergone a lengthy permitting process that involved extensive review by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (later renamed the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs) under two administrations and three different agency heads.
The management plan, approved after much wrangling and paring down, provides four parking spaces, plus one handicap space. Human swimmers may enter the water only by means of a wooden swimming perch built out over the water in order to avoid stirring up sediment and to protect the shoreline vegetation. Launching of canoes and kayaks is not allowed.