Land Bank's Chappaquiddick ‘Prize' Will Bring Island Trail to Pond's Edge

By JULIA WELLS

The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank announced this week that it will buy the Wasey property on Chappaquiddick, a grassy, windblown four-acre crest that embraces the unspoiled inner shore of Cape Pogue Pond.

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The purchase price is $2.55 million. The seller is the Cape Pogue Pond Realty Trust on behalf of the family of the late George and Cornelia Wasey. The Waseys have summered at the Pond House, a pleasant and simple Chappaquiddick camp, since 1950.

The property includes 380 feet of beach plus a small coastal pond. It also abuts the Chappy cemetery, an old graveyard fronting Cape Pogue Pond that includes an Indian burial ground.

"It's an awfully scenic area and the land bank prizes these sorts of areas because they bring such pleasure to people," said land bank executive director James Lengyel yesterday.

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Negotiations for the purchase have been under way for the better part of the last year.

"It was fortuitous; we first learned of it on May 19 last year when a listing was given to LandVest," Mr. Lengyel said. The Chappaquiddick Open Space Committee, a group that has helped engineer a number of conservation purchases on Chappy in the last few years, was also involved in the initial contact.

"The property owners were cooperative and it was plain that they were eager to make this happen," Mr. Lengyel said. He praised the work of David Thompson, the Vineyard LandVest Realtor who was marketing the property. "We are grateful to David Thompson for every bit of his hard work in making this happen," Mr. Lengyel said.

The purchase brings the land bank holdings on Chappaquiddick to 386 acres on four properties (five properties will soon be combined into one for the purpose of creating a single management plan). The land bank plans to designate the Wasey property as the northern terminus of the cross-Chappaquiddick trail.

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Mr. Lengyel said the land bank's goal for creating a cross-Chappy trail network is now nearing the finish line.

"We're not there yet, but the land bank's trail goals have advanced faster on Chappy than anywhere else. It will be a short period of time before the land bank announces that the cross-Chappy trail is finished," he said.

Preliminary plans call for removing the old Pond House and a boat house on the property, and the land will be restored to a wild state. The house and the boat house will be disposed of through a public process which will allow for recycling of components. The small hilltop where the Wasey house now sits will be maintained as a grassy field.

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Preliminary plans also call for creating a low-key public boat landing at the site and the land bank is considering granting a license on an annual basis to local organizations interested in offering sailing lessons. Hunting and fishing will be allowed on the property.

Parking for the cemetery is also located on the property and the land bank plans to expand the clearing slightly.

Ordinarily newly acquired land bank properties are closed for one year while a management plan is developed, but Mr. Lengyel said the land bank will deviate from the policy with this property because a management plan is now well in hand. This is in part because the management plan for five Chappy land bank properties will be combined in one new plan called the Three Ponds management plan. The properties include: Brine's Pond, the Ruth Marshall property, the Five Corners Preserve, the Bettencourt property and the Wasey property.

"We will probably have a management plan ready by this spring," Mr. Lengyel said.

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He said the key themes with the Wasey property are quiet and low-key. "The purchase is handy because it increases public coastal access. But as always we want to integrate into our environs - it's a subtle sort of area, and therefore our land will be likewise low key and subtle," Mr. Lengyel said.

"The land bank is very satisfied with the outcome here," he concluded.

A closing is planned for Feb. 27.