The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank will soon open a new preserve on Chappaquiddick, though its plans for the land won’t be as robust as once hoped.

The land bank commission voted Monday to open the Caleb’s Pond Preserve, a three-acre strip of forest, scrub and marshland near the Chappy Ferry that the land bank purchased in 2020. But the opening is going forward without any of the planned waterfront access, after the Edgartown conservation commission last week rejected the land bank’s plans for a stairway down the bank of the pond.

The denial came after “a lot of heavy neighbor pushback,” land superintendent Harrison Kisiel said at a land bank commission meeting Monday.

Mr. Kisiel said he first came before the town in June with plans to construct an elevated boardwalk and kayak launch over marshland on the property, in addition to the stairs. 

The conservation commission referred the land bank to the town marine advisory board, which determined that the boardwalk violated the terms of a district of critical planning concern in the area, which does not allow piers.

Last week, the land bank returned to the conservation commission with a plan that excluded the boardwalk and featured the stairs, but that was denied.

“Their reasoning was that the earthen steps would negatively impact a protected resource area,” he said. “I just don’t quite know how we would like to move forward with this. An option that we do have is we could appeal to DEP.”

Steve Ewing, the Edgartown representative on the land bank commission, recommended the land bank reapply with the conservation commission later, rather than appeal the proposal with the state.

“Let it sit for a while, maybe a year, and come back to it,” he said. “Let the dust settle for a little bit, you know. There’s no sense to get everybody’s hair up with an appeal.”

“The ConCom’s a little reluctant about setting precedent on this particular salt marsh,” he said. 

Mr. Ewing added that some nearby residents are already walking across the marsh, despite concerns about habitat damage from the boardwalk.

The land bank commission voted to reapply for the boardwalk sometime in the future, as recommended by Mr. Ewing, as well as voting to open the property to the public.

With the vote to open the property to the public, land bank staff will get to work clearing the trail and pond viewing area they have approval for, Mr. Kisiel said, in an interview with the Gazette.

Mr. Kisiel said they plan to have work done on the roughly 350-foot trail done and ready for the public by mid-January.

The land bank purchased the property in 2020 for $1.2 million and it hasn’t yet been opened.