On Tisbury Great Pond, a Family Feud


A divided family, hundreds of feet of unlicensed docks and the
future of a cove on Tisbury Great Pond has sparked a drama in West

Complicating the story is that the family member who installed these
unpermitted docks is a town selectman. Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter
reportedly installed four seasonal floating docks on Manter family land
over the last few years. This week his older brother, Whit Manter, said
it's gone too far.

"Years ago, my family used to live with the pond," said
Whit Manter, during a Wednesday afternoon walk on what remains of the
family's original 42-acre neck, a thin strip of land between Muddy
Cove and Town Cove.

This month, the family feud came before the West Tisbury
conservation commission, the board charged with the care of town's
wetlands. Tuesday evening, the commission - whose members are
appointed by the board of selectmen - tried to sort through the
details of the unlicensed docks.

"There's no advantage for having done it first and
asking permission later," warned commissioner Ebba Hierta, after
Glenn Provost of Vineyard Land Surveying explained that the four docks
in question have been in the pond for "some period of time."
Skipper Manter, who stayed home to avoid the appearance of a conflict,
hired Mr. Provost to present his case. Reached by phone yesterday,
Skipper Manter said he did not want to comment on the docks while the
commission application is still pending.

"I hardly know where to begin," Whit Manter, a former
member of the conservation commission, told the board Tuesday.
"You've been misled by my family for the last 20 years. They
once asked to dig up a dike [to allow for better flow in the pond]. My
family doesn't give a damn about the environment. They just wanted
to get boats in there and trash the place up."

These docks, two of which stretch a third of the way across Muddy
Cove, seem to have struck a nerve beyond the Manter clan. A handful of
Tisbury Great Pond neighbors also came out Tuesday to protest Skipper
Manter's docks.

"The feeling is that it's like a little marina in
there," said Carly Look, who lives just across Muddy Cove. While
the lengths of the four piers total more than 244 feet, Ms. Look said
that number doesn't take into account the dozens of appendages off
the main body of the docks. This week, 22 of the nearly 30 wooden dock
pieces were stacked on Manter Family Trust land at the tip of the neck,
a stone's throw from the water.

What's more, neighbors say, Skipper Manter has been
clearcutting portions of the shoreline, and a dam at the head of the
cove seems to be getting larger.

"It's a huge issue - all of that work around the
edge. I assumed all of that went through your board," said Arnold
Fischer Jr., whose family owns more than 100 acres on a nearby neck. The
conservation commission said they had reviewed no such plans.

Nearly a quarter-mile of shoreline - running across land owned
by Skipper Manter and three other pieces owned by Skipper and
Whit's mother, Janice - has been stripped almost bare.
Lowlying scrub oak, several trees and patches of phragmite no longer
blanket the edges of the pond on much of these properties. A
well-trimmed lawn now stretches down the eastern slopes of these

At the head of the pond, an earthen dam 10 feet wide blocks a small
pool of fresh water from the rest of the cove. A dock with a number of
attachments stretches across this farm pond.

"He's taking a piece of Tisbury Great Pond and [has]
turned it into a private estate," said Whit Manter later this

The conservation commission handed a laundry list of questions over
to Mr. Provost and instructed him to bring answers to another hearing
April 15. Commissioners wanted water measurements in the cove, the
number of boats to use the docks and a reason why they need to be longer
than most any dock on the pond.

"This seems like a hot potato, and it seems to go beyond the
docks," Mr. Provost said later this week.