On July 16, the anniversary of our dad’s birthday, our family celebrated a closing with the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank to purchase our family home on 18 Tiasquam Road. Our dad grew up nearby and this was his favorite piece of land on the Island. Our mother will enjoy a life estate on the property, during which time we assume all financial obligations, including taxes, insurance and maintenance of house and property. This sale was our unanimous choice, something we have been working on for the last several years.

This house was built in 1969 before any wetland protection laws were in place. While it was a wonderful place for us to grow up, the house and accompanying septic system never should have been built so close (about 70 feet) to the Tiasquam River. The Tiasquam flows into Tisbury Great Pond, which now suffers from impaired water quality. The plain fact is that none of us can afford to buy the others out of this now very valuable property, and the idea of having to sell it on the open market and watch the expansion in development that would no doubt occur on this small parcel was not the route we wanted to pursue.

It was our idea to approach the land bank about this purchase with the caveat that the house be removed and the property, especially the 200-foot riverfront area be restored to its natural state. Further, it is the intention of the land bank to continue to pursue trail easements in the area that will connect users from existing trail easements between Middle and South Road to the center of West Tisbury, a longtime goal of the land bank. Our property provides a crucial hub in restoring this historic trail system.

Upon the conclusion of the life estate, the land bank has generously allowed us a six-month grace period to empty the house and salvage much of the framing lumber, beautiful 1969 straight grain Douglas fir, for building and furniture projects. Very little of this will burden a dumpster and be shipped off-Island

The land bank has been an enthusiastic partner in our shared vision for this land. We so appreciate that they exist to provide this option for us and for others who choose this path.

We have enjoyed this property for over 50 years. Upon conclusion of our mother’s life estate, we look forward to sharing it with all of you, and for generations to come.

Ann Burt, Percy Burt, Molly B. Reed, Prudy Burt, Patrick Burt

West Tisbury