New Land Bank Purchase Will Preserve 84 Acres on Chilmark's Middle Road

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By ALEXIS TONTI

The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank announced this week that it will buy 84 acres of land in Chilmark, a sprawling property that rises nearly 200 feet from Middle Road to a ridgeline with views of the south shore.

The purchase price is $8.3 million.

The sellers are Robert Harrington and Sarah Harrington Williams.

The property abuts the Waskosim's Rock Reservation, a flagship land bank property comprising nearly 200 acres. It will add a key piece to the land bank's cross-Island trail network, connecting North Road to Middle Road, and the east branch of the Tiasquam River has its headwaters there.

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"You enjoy this valley that leads down, but then you climb higher and higher until you hit this ridgeline that is so high you can see South Beach curving off into Edgartown," land bank executive director James Lengyel said yesterday.

The property, which will be called the Tiasquam River Reservation, has been on the list of land bank priority purchases since 1989.

The nearby Waskosim's Rock Reservation is part of the watershed for Mill Brook Valley, which feeds the Tisbury Great Pond. Mr. Lengyel said that now that the headwaters of the Tiasquam River - another feeder into the great pond - are also under land bank stewardship, the pond will enjoy greater protection.

"The land bank has always been interested in preserving the head waters of the various brooks on Martha;s Vineyard," he said.

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Aerial photographs dating back more than 75 years show that the land formerly included far more open space and cow pasture.

"Today some of the older areas are wooded with a light understory, so one of our goals is to restore the fields that were here so recently. That will be good for wildlife habitat and also will open up the long-distance view to Edgartown," Mr. Lengyel said.

Preliminary plans also call for a biological survey of the property that will include the identification of rare and endangered species. In addition, the land bank will consider leasing a portion of the property for agricultural purposes.

The purchase has been in the works since last winter, when an Edgartown real estate agent approached the land bank about the property, which the Harrington family had listed with her.

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A closing date for the purchase has been set for August 20.

The property will be purchased on an all-Island basis, meaning that each of the six town land bank advisory boards has agreed to contribute a proportionate amount of money to the sale.

Mr. Lengyel said: "Because of the magnitude of the price the land bank commission needed to go to all the town advisory boards, and it turned out to be another example of the good will and cooperation of all the advisory boards and of their willingness to spend money on an all-Island basis."

A Walk Along Old Pasture, Up a Ridge >