A long-running dispute between the town of Tisbury and a pair of private landowners over maintaining views across the Tashmoo Overlook is closer to being resolved, the town selectmen said this week. At their meeting Tuesday the Tisbury selectmen worked to finalize wording on a memorandum of understanding between the town and the Payette family. The document has not yet been approved by the signing parties, but is the latest step in a lengthy negotiation process.
The Tashmoo Overlook was established as a scenic viewpoint in 1958; since then willow and maple trees have grown up over much of the original view. In 2007, a citizens committee was formed to advocate for restoring the view to its original state. Several members of the committee attended Tuesday’s meeting.
The town owns the hill at the overlook and the area around the old waterworks, but the Payette family owns the wetland area at the bottom near the lake. In 2010 selectmen negotiated an agreement with the family to remove two willows that were blocking views and to trim a third. In 2012, the citizens committee received money at town meeting from the Community Preservation Committee to survey and map the area. The project was completed by the Vineyard Open Land Foundation.
“Our goal is simply to reestablish the original full view, the entire historic view corridor,” said Patricia Carlet, chairman of the committee. She said the group had no interest in acquiring any land via easement, but that the town could consider a view easement.
Selectman Tristan Israel said that although the Tashmoo Overlook was one of the “top three views” on the Island, he was reluctant to recommend a total view easement. The town and the Payettes had been working on negotiations over the course of many years, he said, and the family was “not in favor of [that solution].” Mr. Israel said he favored establishing a compromise with the family regarding the view and how it would be maintained, as opposed to engaging the town in “a legal harangue.”
Members of the committee asked to see the in-progress MOU, contending that because the meeting was public, the document was public as well. The selectmen went into executive session after the regular session to continue working on language in the document.
“We haven’t decided among ourselves what the document is . . . we’re having a dialogue among ourselves,” Mr. Israel said.
“We are still in negotiations,” selectman and board chairman Jeffrey Kristal said.
In other business at the meeting, selectmen discussed temporary plans for the space at the old fire station, which is being remade into a parking lot by the Department of Public Works. The space will be used by the fire department on July 8 for the annual Tisbury Street Fair. Following that, selectmen plan to lease parking spaces at the lot while the town works toward a permanent plan for use. Town administrator John (Jay) Grande estimated there would be 24 to 26 spaces in the lot once completed.
Mr. Grande presented the board with a fee schedule for the temporary parking plan. After discussion, the board opted to eliminate month-to-month payments and focus on semiannual and annual fees. Mr. Kristal said the final plan should have a parameter prohibiting commercial trucks from using the lot, as they could turn into billboards.
In a small ceremony the board awarded a chair to the family of the late Thomas Rabbit, the longest-tenured selectman in Tisbury history. Mr. Rabbit was a selectman for 36 years, from 1944 to 1970. Several members of his family attended the dedication. The chair dedication program was started by Aase Jones 30 years ago to honor those who have served the town .