West Tisbury will wade back into the Mill Pond dredging issue

Mill Pond is placid on a summer day but the politics surround its future are not. — Photo by Michael Cummo

West Tisbury selectmen are preparing to issue another request for proposals (RFP) for a study of the Mill Brook watershed, based on the recommendations of the West Tisbury Mill Brook watershed study committee.

At a meeting of the West Tisbury selectmen Wednesday, Sept. 19, selectman Cynthia Mitchell, who is also a member of the committee, said the committee expected to present its preliminary recommendations for a watershed study when selectmen meet on Sept. 24.

The recommendations will also be presented at a public forum at 5:30 pm, Monday, Sept. 29, at the West Tisbury library.

Selectmen formed the committee in May after they rejected the only bid received in response to the first RFP because it did not address all the requirements.

Other potential contractors cited unclear language, imprecise requirements and too little money for the work expected as reasons for not bidding on the study.

Voters at the town meeting in 2012 approved $15,000 for a watershed study to help in the management of the Mill Brook and in making decisions regarding the future of the Mill Pond, an issue that has sparked debate between advocates of dredging the pond and those who think the watershed should be returned to its natural state before the brook was dammed. At the April town meeting, voters agreed to double the funds for the study to $30,000.

In other Mill Pond news, Sean Conley, a member of the town’s historic district commission, asked selectmen if they had any objections to the commission erecting an 11-inch-by-15-inch plaque containing a short history of the Mill Pond near the pond. He said the plaque would be paid for from private funds. There were no objections.

In other town business, Brian Smith, who resigned as West Tisbury’s representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) effective Sept. 10, asked to be appointed as one of two town representatives to the MVC Island roads committee, on which he had served as a commissioner.

Chairman of the selectmen Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said it was customary to advertise for appointments of this sort, to give the selectmen the opportunity to choose the best candidate. Selectman Richard Knabel, who is also on the roads committee, said, “I don’t think we would find a better person even if we did advertise.” All three selectmen voted to appoint Mr. Smith.