West Tisbury: First flowers, Sylvan Heights birds, Parks and Recreation, and town planning

—MV Times

I am relishing my last views of sky, of twisting tree trunks, of branches and twiglets interlaced. The new leaves are pale green, soon to darken and fill every space, closing in our woods until fall.

The first flowers in our rhododendron hedge have opened, small white trusses from pink buds. A tall yellow azalea, shadbush, and Florida dogwoods are mixed in and behind the rhodies. Blue ajuga, myrtle, bleeding hearts, and epimediums carpet the ground below where the last narcissus, a delicate beauty called ‘Hawera’ and the Solomon’s seals that Mrs. Jenkinson gave me are the last flowers there. What counts as our “lawn” is a sea of violets and dandelions.

I have been watching the ducks at Brad Tucker’s farmstand across State Road from the Ag Hall. After every rainfall, or whenever the sprinkler is going, they make a comic sight frolicking in puddles, flapping their wings. Do take a look when you drive by.

I had a nice visit with Danny Whiting. He and Anne have recently returned from North Carolina, where they visited friends and regular visitors to West Tisbury Mike and Ali Lubbock. Mike was being honored as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his establishing and development of Sylvan Heights Avian Breeding Center, and his service to the Global Wildlife Conservation of Water Birds. Tara sent me the link to Sylvan Heights so I could read about it. Do take a look. It’s an impressive place with a beautiful website and gorgeous photography: shwpark.com

David Fielder gave me a list of the trees newly planted in the historic district on Arbor Day. They had a beautiful day to work. Volunteers planted the 14 trees at Brandy Brow, at Town Hall, and along Music Street. Four Florida dogwoods, five shadbush, two American elms, one each beetlebung, basswood, a flowering cherry, and a blue atlas cedar. 

Members of the tree committee are Jeremiah Brown, Tim Boland, Emily Ellingson, David Fielder, J.T. Hunt, and Oliver Osnoss. Thanks to the town for funding this project, the 20 volunteers who wielded shovels and rakes, Polly Hill Arboretum staff who dug holes and prepared the sites, Vineyard Gardens for delivering mulch and leaf mold, and Bartlett Tree Co. for bringing its watering truck. It was a community effort that everyone hopes will become an annual event.

Martha’s Vineyard Democrats will hold their monthly Zoom meeting this Saturday morning, May 11, at 9:30 am. Guests will include State Sen. Julian Cyr, Clerk of Courts George Davis, and Register of Deeds Paolo DeOlivera. Cathy Brennan also mentioned a fundraiser with Gov. Maura Healey, planned for June 6. For Zoom link and more information, contact demsmv@gmail.com.

Peggy Stone has announced the date for our annual town picnic, June 2, noon to 3 pm. It will be at the Grange Hall this year. Plans include music, games, hayrides, and fire truck rides. Bring your picnic lunch and something to sit on.

Peggy said that Parks and Rec. needs lifeguards and parking attendants for Lambert’s Cove Beach this summer. The application form is on the town website, westtisbury-ma.gov

I ran into Bruce Stone last weekend. He is looking forward to his retirement, to playing golf, and traveling. He was very complimentary of Chelsea Joiner, who will replace him as town accountant.

Planning board chair Leah Smith and administrator Jane Rossi were kind enough to meet with me to review the recent visioning weekend. Both Friday evening and Saturday sessions were well-attended, by 150 and 120 residents respectively. 

Friday’s meeting began with a potluck feast typical of such West Tisbury gatherings, lots of delicious dishes, and good company. After-dinner discussions identified issues to be explored. What do we like about living in West Tisbury? The library and the Post Office received standing ovations. Our sense of community, of being a small town, knowing our neighbors. A common concern was needing better communication between town boards, and with residents. Another was making these visioning meetings more frequent than every 25 years.

By the end of Saturday, eight items were deemed most important. They are:

  • Communication, changes to the town website.
  • Village center and business district. People miss the Post Office being at Alley’s. They miss having a place like Humphrey’s, to sit and have coffee, chat, a place to gather. To start, maybe more picnic tables outside the library.
  • Affordable housing, including possible zoning changes that would help.
  • Ponds, great ponds, water, the aquifer.
  • Conservation.
  • More bike paths and sidewalks, especially citing Old County Road; connecting the ones we have. Making it safer and easier to walk or bike. Not having to drive everywhere.
  • Diversity and inclusion.
  • Education for all ages.

The groups will continue meeting through the summer. They plan to make a final report to the community sometime this fall.

From conversations around town, everyone seemed impressed with how well the event was organized, how well-prepared the facilitators were, and how smoothly everything went throughout the weekend. Those attending were young and old, working, retired, lifelong residents, newcomers, year-rounders, and seasonal residents. There was time for people to get to meet one another. It was West Tisbury.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.