Hillside Village battles flooding, disrepair

Elderly housing drainage area turns to ‘cement pond’ in recent rain.


Jed Clampett and his family of Beverly Hillbillies marveled at the “cement pond” on the grounds of their California mansion — not so for residents of Hillside Village in Tisbury. Unlike the Clampetts’ posh swimming pool, Hillside Village, a senior living apartment complex, is graced with a concrete-walled drainage pool resembling an alligator exhibit at a Florida zoo. Clogged with vegetation and silt, the pool is designed to collect storm drain effluent from Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road and leach it or pipe it away, according to Tisbury DPW director Ray Tattersall. The problem is, the pool isn’t working properly, and threatens to flood some ground-level Hillside Village apartments close to it.

At a recent Tisbury selectmen’s meeting, Hillside Village residents described the pool as smelling like an open sewer.

Patricia Boyd lives in Apartment A8, the apartment closest to the pool. She is concerned her apartment may someday be part of the pool. “They say it’s not going to go up anymore, but it’s supposed to pour tomorrow,” she said Friday. “Who do I call tomorrow when it’s up higher?”

Ostensibly that person is Greg Monka, maintenance director for Island Elderly Housing. Monka told The Times he’s been in close communication with Tattersall and town administrator Jay Grande over the pool. Because weekend rain wasn’t as heavy as many feared, the pool did not swell anymore, he said.

On Monday, Boyd said the pool had drained a couple of feet, based on what she could see. However, she remains concerned about it, and couldn’t fathom why it was so close to her home.

The pool was installed in 1982, based on records Tattersall was able to unearth. He said it’s unclear whether the pool drains via culvert or pipe, or whether it has a sand bottom and just percs itself dry. Whatever the mechanism, squishy silt is thus far preventing a machine from crawling inside and mucking out the pool, Tattersall said. Until the pool drys more, the DPW can’t hoe away layers to see what it’s dealing with. “Right now we don’t know what we’re going to find,” he said.

Environmental Partners Group is waiting in the wings to craft a design remedy for the town, he said, but they can’t do so until they know the anatomy of the pool. Tattersall said it’s also possible removing the muck from the pool might restore its regular draining capabilities, negating the need for a redesign.

Like many drain issues in town, shoddy maintenance in years past seems to be at the root of the problem, he said.

As for Boyd, the pool is only part of her problem. The lawn in front of her apartment is shaggy with unmowed grass and dotted with prickly locust tree seedlings. She said when the mow crews come, they don’t touch the area.

During a visit to Hillside Village on Friday, The Times observed the swollen pool, the unkempt lawn, and a support post near Boyd’s apartment that had rotted through in places.

Asked about the support, which appears to bear the weight of a balcony and part of the roof, Monka said he was aware of it and planned to address it in “10 days to two weeks.” He described the lawn seedlings as “quite a nuisance,” and said that patch had been mowed by a subcontractor “10 to 14 days ago.”

Asked Monday morning if the building department was aware of the rotten post at Hillside Village, Rhonda DeBettencourt said it wasn’t on their radar. She dispatched interim building inspector Mike Brogan to inspect it shortly thereafter. Brogan told The Times the post was indeed structural in nature, and that the Tisbury Building Department would address it immediately.

Island Elderly Housing director Dorothy Young did not immediately respond to telephone messages left by The Times.



  1. I have experience with thorny black locust trees (prickly locust trees) and they drop small bean pods of seeds. They also seem to fix nitrogen in the soil and in their leaves and seeds. The nutritious seeds are highly sought after by birds. The seeds are tiny but …when they sprout, look out! They make two foot tall seedlings that magically appear after mowing the lawn. Hard to believe since they grow into a very dense hardwood that defies both rotting and splitting for firewood. I have made archery bows from the wood. So while logically we might imagine that indicated area of the lawn was not mowed for a year I know those seedlings are misleading.

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