The deteriorating fence enclosing the West Tisbury cemetery will remain in place after the select board this week withdrew its application to remove most of the pickets. 

The board sought to ditch portions of the fence to solve the burden of maintenance costs, said select board member Jessica Miller at a meeting Monday. But the idea faced pushback from the town’s historic district commission, which has urged for the fence to be preserved.  

“We’re trying to find a happy medium here with the fence where we’re maintaining some historical significance, but not having the composite of tax burden on the taxpayers,” Ms. Miller said. 

The select board voted to withdraw their application of demolition of the fence, with Ms. Miller voting against the withdrawal.

The withdrawal temporarily halts a long-standing conversation about the fence’s future. In 2014,  town meeting approved $75,000 to spruce up the fence. But when costs later rose to almost $100,000, residents voted the project down. Costs have likely only gone up since then.   

“Any work we do now is going to be four to six times more [than the initial estimate compared to] when the town soundly defeated the ask,” Ms. Miller said. 

Without funding to pay for the repairs, the town sought to remove the rotting portions. Some members of the historic district commission and the public at Monday’s meeting expressed worries about insufficient planning put into the demolition plan and the impact on the town’s character should the fence be removed. 

“I think we do need to think about the fact that one of the design guidelines that we go by [and] one of the characters of the town is white picket fences,” Nancy Dole, member of the historic district commission, said.

Resident Woody Bowman, who spoke against the removal application, agreed with the aesthetical implication of the fence removal.

“I think that the fencing...which is now what will be taken out under the current proposal is an important demarcation,” Mr. Bowman said. “Otherwise, the edge of the cemetery is established by a guardrail by the highway. And I think that’s just a failure.”

Previous proposals for the fence included a compromise with repairing the fence with cheaper materials, such as plastic. This proposal of removing the pickets while leaving the granite posts was initially brought up in February, where it was decided the decision would continue to a later meeting. 

As of this week, the select did not have any other plans to remove or renovate the fence.