Sunset Lake on tap for Oak Bluffs voters

The proposed plans for Sunset Lake calls for using $600,000 in community preservation funds to make it a destination.

In the opinion of many Oak Bluffs residents, Sunset Lake, the placid pond across the street from Oak Bluffs harbor, and the surrounding Lakeside Park are overlooked gems in need of restoration and repair.

The FANS — Friends and Neighbors of Sunset Lake — have spearheaded an article on this year’s town meeting warrant asking voters to invest $600,000 of Community Preservation funds over the next three years to make the lake and the park an attractive destination, and one that doesn’t flood Green Leaf Avenue and Dukes County Avenue every time it rains.

Warrant article 16 proposes to allocate $200,000 in Community Preservation funding this year, and to borrow $400,000, to be paid back in equal installments over the next two years, with community funds. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

Consultants Horsley Witten have created a detailed plan to address the worsening drainage issues and to upgrade the pond and park. The plan includes a path around the lake with improved handicap accessibility, wet swale, stormwater retrofit, removal of non-native plants, plantings, and signage. The plan was paid for with a combination of Community Preservation funds and private funding from FANS.

“We’re trying to fund this the same way we funded Niantic Park, which turned out so beautifully,” conservation commission chairman Joan Hughes told The Times. “FANS has done a fantastic job. These partnerships are the ultimate in participatory democracy. FANS came to the conservation commission and parks department with a proposal that fits our objectives. We’ve been trying to solve the drainage problem for a long time. The location is an entrance to the town, and what you’ve got now is pretty awful. We want to create an entrance worthy of this town. FANS has already gotten one grant, and they’re applying for more. Having the town commitment on the warrant article puts FANS in the top tier of eligibility for future grants.”

“The vote is to allocate CPC money; it is not going to raise taxes,” FANS member Jaye Shelby said. “We want to see people use the park more. We want to make it more user-friendly, improve the water quality in the lake, remove non-native plants, and add some dog-walking stations. People have really responded to the plan. We haven’t heard one negative comment.”