Mill Pond

Spring didn’t fool around on Tuesday, April Fool’s Day. Instead, quite properly, the month of golden daffodils and forsythia and of plump, furry pussy willows arrived with a warm rain. The month’s arrival could have been heralded by sun, but that has come since — to show off the greenery and the buds and the first flowers that the rain has nurtured.

Birds and animals are feeling spring stirrings, too. At the West Tisbury Mill Pond after years of absence, a pair of swans has taken up residence and appears to be surveying the scene for nesting purposes. An osprey has been sighted perched on a branch above the pond and an otter was seen splashing about by the pond’s edge. Over the weekend, earnest youngsters with fishing poles tried their luck in the recently trout-stocked waters.

But before long they may all be out of luck. The two-acre Mill Pond that was designed in the 19th century to provide water power for the manufacture of textiles in the building that is today’s Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club, is silting up. It has been thirty eight years since the town last cleared out the muck and weeds and roots. Although it is a manmade pond, the West Tisbury conservation commission must make sure that no rare species of plant or fish will be destroyed if the pond is dredged as it always was in earlier days.

On Tuesday town voters will be asked to request $50,000 in Community Preservation Act funding as a first step toward dredging the pond. The money would be used for investigating what method of dredging would be safest and best for the pond, now barely six inches deep, and to pay for the required permits.

What a pity it would be if those graceful swans were forced to show off their beauty on some other pond, if the otter had to wander off to a more comfortable habitat and there were no longer fish for young fishermen or the hungry osprey.

Then of course there is the beauty for human passersby that the silvery Mill Pond offers. It has been a scenic centerpiece for more than a century.

West Tisbury voters are also being asked to spend money for many other things. When deciding, they should not forget that it is the landscape of Martha’s Vineyard that attracts the visitors who are so essential to Island economy.

And they should weigh the unsightliness of a mud flat replacing the sparkling Mill Pond if they turn down the request that could preserve and renew it.