A Vineyard Haven resident who has long campaigned to save the view at the Tashmoo overlook took her case to the Dukes County commission this week after finding little support from the Tisbury selectmen for a plan to buy the view easement.
Patricia Carlet asked the county commission for a letter of support to buy the easement, possibly by eminent domain, but the commission said it could not do that without the town’s involvement.
Ms. Carlet is a member of a group of concerned citizens calling themselves Save the View over Lake Tashmoo. The group has organized to ask Tisbury to buy a scenic easement at the overlook in order to keep one of the best Island vista’s open to public view.
The group is seeking approximately $20,000 in Community Preservation Act open space funds for an appraisal of the value of the view.
The view is currently obstructed by a group of willow trees, planted by Thomas and Ginny Payette of Tashmoo Farm at the bottom of their property that abuts the Tashmoo Spring building.
The Payettes and Tisbury town officials are currently in talks to resolve a dispute that has been going on for nearly five years about the trees. The Gazette was unable to reach the Payettes at press time yesterday, but Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee said he expects the two parties to come to an agreement in the next few weeks.
Ms. Carlet has led the effort to save the view since 2007 and now has 300 signatures to petition an article for the annual town warrant for the CPA funds. She appealed to the Tisbury selectmen at a Nov. 1 meeting to back the request, but the selectmen refused, citing the ongoing negotiations with the property owners.
The Payettes removed several of the largest trees and surrounding shrubbery last spring, but Ms. Carlet said about six trees remain and continue to grow larger.
Finding little support from the Tisbury selectmen this week, Ms. Carlet then turned to the Dukes County commissioners at their Wednesday night meeting, asking for a letter of support.
“I came here in the 1960s and saw the view of Tashmoo and fell in love with it,” she said. “We’re proposing the town take it by eminent domain through a scenic view easement over the land, which would mean this gentleman would have to take down willow trees . . . . When he planted the trees they were small and no one saw them. And now they are enormous.” The trees were planted at the head of Tashmoo in the 1970s.
The commissioners were hesitant to get involved without hearing from Mr. Payette, and in the end did not write a letter of support.
Ms. Carlet said the Vineyard Open Land Foundation has offered to serve as a consultant on a project to buy the view easement. And she cited several other agencies the group will seek help from, including the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, Vineyard Conservation Society and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
“We’re hoping to connect with the tribe because it’s a big part of their cultural heritage,” she said, referring to the tale of Tashmoo and the discovery of the spring. “I think that would be an important piece.”
County commissioner Tristan Israel, who is also a Tisbury selectman, recused himself from the commission’s discussion, citing the fact that the town was in active talks with the property owners and is hopeful at the prospect of reaching an agreement.
County manager Russell Smith said the county would defer to the town, although he recognized that Ms. Carlet was anxious to give the issue broad exposure.
“It was an opportunity to bring the issue before the commissioners and anybody else who might be tuning in,” said Mr. Smith.
Meanwhile, the Tisbury selectmen have met in executive session to negotiate a memorandum of understanding between the town and Mr. Payette after Mr. Payette agreed to cut down some of his trees last spring.
Town administrator John Bugbee said yesterday the memorandum negotiations are ongoing but he expects the two parties to come to an agreement in the next few weeks.
“It has to do with maintaining the view and what both sides are willing to live with,” Mr. Bugbee said. “The town wants to make sure that that view is maintained and available for the public. And I think Mr. Payette has his own concerns about his property and property rights and it’s just a matter of bringing the two together.”
He said the application for community preservation funds is distinct from the negotiations.