On the wrong path at Tradewinds

To the Editor:

On Sunday morning I walked with a bunch of mostly Oak Bluffs residents and their dogs, led by a member of the Oak Bluffs Land Bank Advisory Committee, Ewell Hopkins, to see what the Land Bank is doing to “protect” the Tradewinds property.

I’m not a dog person; I’ve got no ax to grind here. But it seems to me that the Land Bank is using a cannon to kill a mosquito.

They are erecting a two-mile-long fence — wood posts with tons of 4-inch wire mesh to prevent anyone from walking where the Land Bank doesn’t want anyone to go, for the stated purpose of protecting a couple of endangered species.

The new trail is one long loop; it doesn’t allow for any abbreviated walks other than for someone to turn around after a short distance and reverse her steps.

So paranoid is the Land Bank about the particular species in question that the new “trail” veers very close to the woods, so in order to make enough room for the new trail to even be walkable, quite a bit of other shrubbery, groundcover, and trees will have to be cut down.

The current trail system, though well-worn, largely runs along the edges of open fields, sunny and easily traversed ground. The newly designated route seems to run for half or more of its length in the woods, over ground with lots of jutting roots, etc., ground that will remain snow-covered and/or frozen much longer than the current paths.

Everyone on this Island is an environmentalist. We all want our precious spaces to be honored and protected. But the “protected” land should not be hostile to humans and their beloved pets. There are not many spots on Martha’s Vineyard that welcome dogs. It’s my understanding that this group of dog owners had already adjusted their walking habits in an effort to comply with appropriate land protection. With that in mind, the Oak Bluffs Advisory Committee, after first voting to approve a fence, reversed itself and voted 5-1 to delay the project, suggesting that a more reasonable plan should be devised.

Would it not be wiser, less costly, and of better service to our Island community to work with the people who have called Tradewinds their recreational and social home for many years? I’m sure a way can be found to both protect the land and its inhabitants without taking away the enjoyment of those people who have been walking their dogs there for decades.

Steve Auerbach
Oak Bluffs