To the Editor:
As a year-round resident of Oak Bluffs, I have walked my dogs at Tradewinds for more than 15 years. I walk nearly every day, twice a day, in all weather. It is beautiful there in the winter months when snow blankets the fields. Spring arrives, and we don our rain boots until we can welcome the greener landscape. The dog days of summer are just that; a place where dogs have always been welcome when the beaches are largely off-limits. I am not sure anything can compare to the fall, when the fields are golden and the grasses shimmer in the waning light of the shorter days.
Now every view across the property will be obstructed by a mesh wire fence.
As I walked one morning last week, I was graced with the appearance of two deer bounding across the airstrip. I was saddened by the sudden awareness that they, too, would soon be fenced out of this property. The numerous, large, log-like fence posts loom in the distance. It is hard to not view these as an eyesore and detriment to what was once a vast open space.
The Land Bank has admitted that Tradewinds is by far its most utilized property. Those who utilize the property are the dog owners and lovers. The Land Bank has erected this fence in such a way that one can only assume they are trying to make it as unfriendly as possible to those who use the property regularly. Rather than stake the fence around the current path, they have pushed it closer to the perimeter of the property. The result is a path that is very close to County Road, and within feet of the split-rail fence that borders the Farm Neck driveway. This is so dangerous for our pets. In other areas we are to be diverted into the woods. These paths are not level, and pose a real risk for the oldest of our walkers. Not to mention the increased exposure to ticks that we will all face.
Additionally, these narrow fenced paths are likely to increase dog aggression. Dogs look to avoid this, believe it or not, by taking wide berths around potential trouble.
I understand protecting the habitat. This final fencing plan, however, can only be perceived as a method of discouraging use of the property by dog walkers entirely. This is a property that has been used and loved for so many years without any restrictions or even interest from the Land Bank. This is such a drastic measure.
I wonder if there is a longitudinal study of the endangered fauna that has found that people and animals walking in close proximity have affected the growth? The meadows seem to only be flourishing.
How can it be that the Land Bank will exclude longstanding members of the community but still allow pilots (coming from who knows where) to utilize the property? This juxtaposition is especially difficult to reconcile.
I called the Land Bank and asked to see the management plan with the new trails. I was told there was no management plan. Really? I myself, as a taxpayer and homeowner, will be reevaluating the value of the Land Bank as an institution. I wonder if it is time to rethink the 2 percent surcharge on property transfers? I would encourage Oak Bluffs residents to visit the property and email the Land Bank, or get in touch with our Oak Bluffs commissioner, listed on the website as Patricia Sylvia.