Mill Pond, the historic man-made pond in the heart of West Tisbury, was once again the center of debate this week over what, if anything, should be done to address fears that the pond is disappearing and the health of its species are in decline.
At a public forum Wednesday, representatives from the state division of ecological restoration, The Nature Conservancy and the town’s Mill Pond committee addressed a standing-room-only crowd at Howes House with competing visions for the pond’s future. Options included dredging and dam removal.
West Tisbury’s historic Mill Pond on the Mill Brook has been the subject of considerable attention going on five years now. The scenic pond at one of the gateways to the town has existed since the 17th century and is in the heart of West Tisbury’s historic district. Together with several surviving structures in the area, it has endured over 300 years of increasing human activity and development and been rejuvenated many times by having its accumulated sediment removed, most recently around 1970.
The West Tisbury selectmen said this week they will move ahead with a comprehensive watershed study for the Mill Pond, putting the question of whether to dredge the historic pond on hold — at least for now.
The fate of the pond and whether to dredge it has been the subject of heated discussion in town for the past year.
The Mill Pond and its upstream cousins: Mill, Priester, Crocker, Fisher (also known as Woods), plus two or more smaller ponds, each with dams, are eco-gems strung together by a silver chain — the Mill Brook.
West Tisbury selectmen this week called for a comprehensive study of the Mill Pond watershed before any decisions are made about dredging the historic pond.
At their meeting Wednesday, the selectmen asked the Mill Pond committee to draft a warrant article for a special town meeting in November that would include details of the scope of work needed to study the watershed system. The watershed includes Mill Pond, Mill Brook, Tiasquam River, Priester’s Pond and Scotchman’s Lane.
To dredge or not to dredge? That is the question currently being bandied about in West Tisbury.
A specially-appointed research committee has split over whether to dredge Mill Pond, the historic man-made pond that graces the entrance to town on the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road adjacent to the police station. Two of the committee members, Bob Woodruff and Craig Saunders, believe that dredging is necessary to prevent the pond from drying up and disappearing forever.
The town of West Tisbury has begun a discussion about what, if anything, should be done to maintain the Mill Pond, a man-made impoundment of the Mill Brook in the center of West Tisbury. So far, the discussion has focused mainly on dredging the pond again; the pond was last dredged in 1970.
The discussion presented last Saturday by Beth Lambert, the river restoration program coordinator for the commonwealth’s Division of Ecological Restoration offered a new perspective and other possibilities for us to consider. I want to thank Prudy Burt and the West Tisbury Library staff for hosting this talk. After listening, there appear to be more options available to the town that are worthy of discussion.
More than 50 people crowded into the reading room at the West Tisbury Public Library on Saturday to hear Beth Lambert, river restoration program coordinator for the state Division of Ecological Restoration, discuss the state’s policy of dam destruction as a way of restoring natural stream ecology.
Opinions on the future of Mill Pond and the future of Mill Brook were more varied than the options at a Saturday afternoon forum held at the West Tisbury Library. The townspeople and others who packed the meeting room kept coming back to a central point: The pond and the brook that feeds it are among the town’s most valued resources and worthy of concern and some kind of action.
Without any action, experts say the pond will continue to choke as more and more sediment and organic materials continue to arrive and fill it.