In a move that is expected to knock down many established barriers to the land protection movement, The Nature Conservancy announced this week that it will buy and put into private conservation 103 acres of land along the Edgartown Great Pond. The property just last year was planned for a private luxury golf club.

Formerly owned by Katharine and Robert Bigelow, the property stretches from Meetinghouse Way to the Kanomika Neck shore of the Great Pond fronting Mashacket Cove, and includes a large expanse of globally rare sandplain grassland.


Leaders in the two rival golf course development groups in Edgartown said yesterday that they will merge memberships and stop competing with each other.

Owen Larkin, the managing partner for the Vineyard Golf Club, confirmed that he has signed an agreement to offer guaranteed membership to every member of the Meetinghouse Golf Club Inc. In return, the leading developers for Meetinghouse have agreed not to reapply for permission to build an 18-hole golf course on the MacKenty family property along the Edgartown Great Pond, Mr. Larkin said.

High-ranking state officials associated with the office of Gov. Paul Cellucci put heavy pressure on members of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in an unabashed attempt to win votes in favor of the Meetinghouse Golf Club project in Edgartown, the Gazette has learned.

The commission rejected the golf club project by a one-vote margin three months ago.

A longtime member of the commission who has been a governor’s appointed member for 20 years admitted this week that she was pressured by a high-ranking state official to vote in favor of the Meetinghouse Golf project.

The developers who recently lost their bid to build a private golf club on some 200 acres of land along the Edgartown Great Pond intend to file a new plan and try again.

“We are neither dead nor finished,” declared a letter sent to the founding members of the Meeting House Golf Club one day after the plan was voted down by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

The letter was sent by mail and by fax to 30 seasonal residents of the Vineyard who advanced some $2 million in start-up money for the failed golf course project.

Ending months of debate, untold numbers of hours of public testimony and weeks of bruising deliberations, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission voted 7 to 6 last night to deny a proposal for a private 18-hole golf club on some 200 acres of land along the Edgartown Great Pond.

A sharply divided subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission completed an evaluation of a proposal for a golf club along the Edgartown Great Pond with little in the way of accord this week, but decided to wait one more week before voting on a recommendation on the project.

“This committee is not going to come up with a clear recommendation,” declared commission member Linda Sibley.

“The committee is going to come out with two reports,” concluded commission member Jennie Greene.