Oak Bluffs works on conservation near Hidden Cove

Proposed conservation restrictions would help establish public trails.

The proposed plan to place two parcels of land in conservation. — screenshot

Oak Bluffs selectmen took another step toward securing conservation restrictions on two parcels of land off Hidden Cove Road, but stopped short of officially voting them in.

The conservation restrictions are being proposed by Sheriff’s Meadow executive director Adam Moore and the Hidden Cove homeowners association, and involve a 10-acre parcel and a four-acre parcel.

The 10-acre parcel borders Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, and is owned by the Hidden Cove homeowners association. The smaller four-acre parcel, which is made up of a small wetland area, is owned by Sheriff’s Meadow, but the nonprofit is conveying the land to the homeowners association. The plan is to put both parcels in conservation and establish a public trail through the 10-acre parcel, which would connect to trails maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank in the Southern Woodlands. 

Moore said Sheriff’s Meadow would agree to get rid of two trail exits and create one near the entrance to Hidden Cove Road, with an eye toward eventually connecting to a potential trail across the street at Dodger’s Hole Pond.

As part of the conservation agreement, the homeowners association would get to keep an existing piece of land for boat storage that abuts the area proposed for conservation.

The plan hinges on a sliver of overgrown town land that Moore proposed could be managed by the Land Bank. Moore presented the plan to selectmen in July, but needed to research if the town owned the sliver of land, which planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins said is the extension of Old County Road.

Moore said the plan would benefit the town by having the four-acre parcel go back onto the town tax rolls.

Moore said Oak Bluffs Land Bank advisory committee is discussing the matter this week. “Hopefully they would be amenable to maintaining this if you asked them to,” Moore said.

The plan has been approved by the homeowners association, Sheriff’s Meadow, and the Oak Bluffs conservation commission.

Selectman Brian Packish said he would like a finalized plan that included more descriptions of the boat storage, connecting trails, and financial effects on the town, to go back to the planning board for review before selectmen take a vote.

“Conceptually, I like all of this, the entire proposal,” Packish said. “I would just like to see this all written out.”

In other business, selectmen authorized a working group of harbormaster Todd Alexander, selectman Ryan Ruley, harbor advisory committee member Jeff Labell, Joanne Venable, and Brock Callen to establish proper swim areas near the Land Bank’s Doug’s Cove property.

According to Labell, last July, several kiteboarders were operating in the popular area when they almost struck two young girls. Labell said fortunately an accident was avoided, but after hearing from Venable, the girl’s mother, and several other concerned citizens, he along with the rest of the harbor advisory committee felt a change needed to be made before someone is hurt.

Selectmen also asked Lee Ann Yarbor, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon, to revise her plans for the annual Vineyard event and set dates in October. Yarbor expressed her preference for a race in May, but selectmen said with the uncertainty of the pandemic, pushing the race back would be better.

Packish, the town’s current representative on the county advisory board, is looking to step aside from the role. Ruley expressed interest in the position, but said he was waiting to hear back from the ethics commission on whether he could oversee the county budget as an employee of the Edgartown Police Department.