Updated @ 1:05 pm
A plane taking off at the Trade Wind Fields Preserve in Oak Bluffs had trouble with the wind and had to abort its flight, crashing into a fence post and knocking it down, James Lengyel, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, told The Times.
The pilot wasn’t injured, but the incident is resurrecting the controversy over the fence erected by the Land Bank at the property known locally as Tradewinds.
The incident is reigniting the controversy over the fence installation, which drew the ire of people who use the conservation land for dog walking and camaraderie.
Mark Jenkins, a critic of the fence, wrote in an email to The Times: “The Land Bank was repeatedly warned by Trade Wind users that the fence would be an aviation hazard, and unfortunately, that has been shown to be correct. This warning even appeared in the petition that was signed in 2017 by several hundred people who opposed the fence. Given how few take-offs actually occur at Trade Wind, the fact that an accident should occur so soon after the fence was constructed does not bode well for the future.’”
Lengyel said he’s heard the opposite. “I’ve heard people saying, ‘Isn’t it good that there was a fence there and that nobody was walking out there at the time? What a relief,’” he said. “That’s what we’re hearing.”
Phil Cordella, who led a “Why the Fence” campaign, chuckled at that notion. “It’s horrible there’s a fence there,” he said. “I don’t care if a plane lands there. I think planes and people can coexist, they have for 30 years. I believe they can coexist. If it’s obvious a plane is landing, who would not move out of the way and control a pet if they had one.”
Land Bank officials maintain the fence was put up in part to protect rare species of flora and fauna such as purple tiger beetle, purple needlegrass, northern blazing star, and sandplain blue-eyed grass on the 72-acre preserve.
Lengyel said Land Bank staff was out Friday repairing the fence. “It’s not a significant repair job at all,” he said.
Of more concern, Cordella said, is that someone is actively promoting the airfield. While fewer than 30 pilots filled out forms to land at Tradewinds last year, 143 pilots have filled out the form this year, according to a Facebook post by Cindy Krauss, financial manager at the Land Bank, responding to Cordella.
“Who is promoting it?” he said.
Updated to include comments from Cordella – Ed.