The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission has bought two Vineyard Haven properties — a total of nine acres — each with unique features that led to the purchase.
According to a press release from the Land Bank, one property is a three-acre lot abutting Sailors Burying Ground on Sailors Burying Ground Road. Christopher Dias sold the property to the Land Bank for $382,000.
The 130-year-old cemetery, which sits at the bottom of an incline, was established for ill or wounded mariners who died after they were treated at the old Marine Hospital, as well as those who died anonymously in Vineyard ports.
Preliminary land management calls for the removal of autumn olive and other invasive trees while retaining specimen trees, creating a glade-like setting.
The purpose of the Land Bank acquisition is to ensure that the land near the cemetery will not be developed. James Lengyel, executive director of the Land Bank, told The Times on Monday that the goal is to maintain the character of the cemetery. “The feeling of the cemetery would have changed dramatically if there had been buildings right behind it,” Mr. Lengyel said.
He equated it to the Land Bank’s first acquisition in 1986 — land near Mayhew Chapel on Christiantown Road in West Tisbury. There was a proposal to build a house behind the chapel; instead, the Land Bank purchased the land and established Christiantown Woods Preserve. “It was just going to ruin that chapel,” Mr. Lengyel said.
Mayhew Chapel and the nearby Wampanoag burial ground are tangible links to Martha’s Vineyard’s history of interaction between the English and Wampanoag residents. The chapel, which dates to 1680, is named for Thomas Mayhew Jr., the first minister to Christianize any of the indigenous peoples of New England, beginning in 1643, when he was 22.
The second acquisition is Beach Tree Preserve, a six-acre property off Edgartown Road. Malcolm and Roseanne Watson sold the property for $760,000. The property has a small stretch of beach on Lagoon Pond, which is accessed via a precipitous ravine. The Land Bank will install stairs for easier access to the beach, plus a trailhead on Edgartown Road.
Anyone with questions may attend one of the Land Bank Commission’s regular meetings on Mondays at 4 pm at 167 Main Street in Edgartown.