Remembering a piece of Block Island past

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 9:15am

Scenic Block Island earned itself a place on the agenda for the Block Island Land Trust’s meeting of May 11 – the only problem was that no one from Scenic B.I. was there.

Land Trust chair Barbara MacMullan told her fellow trustees that Scenic B.I. wished to put up a sign commemorating the old Pump House by the Spring House Pond. The sign would be along the lines of the one at the Solviken Nature Preserve, said MacMullan. “I said ‘you make a sign and bring it to us’” for review.

Vice-Chair Denny Heinz said if anything were to be placed there, it should be a fence. 

Noting the sharp and somewhat blind curve in the busy road, the trustees generally felt that it was not a good place to have people stopping to look at a sign. Clerk Heidi Tarbox said that any sign would need both Historic District Commission and town approval. 

Since no one from Scenic Block Island was at the meeting, the issue was tabled for the time being. “We don’t know what they want,” said MacMullan, as if to say “there’s no point conjecturing.”

Over the winter the installation of the Solviken’s water bottle-filling station, which includes a drinking fountain and dog bowl was completed. Heinz felt that the property could use a load of top soil and some grass seed planted.

Bill Comings, president of the Block Island Conservancy, which co-owns the Solviken suggested adding some shrubs, too. Land Trust Attorney Joe Priestley asked: “It’s outside the coastal buffer (zone), isn’t it?”

Since it did seem to be outside the buffer, the Land Trust authorized Heinz to make arrangements for the soil and seeding.

MacMullan said that: “Some complained to me that the water at the bubbler tastes funny.” While she told them that it was town water, some of the Trustees felt that the funny taste could also be because the bubbler was new and needed to be flushed out. 

In reflecting on other conserved properties, Heinz said: “The Hodge property looks better. You can see the stone walls and the ocean.”

The Land Trust, in conjunction with the other organizations that co-own the Hodge Property, had agreed last October to top some of the trees there, and to girdle others, leaving them to die, but remain in place to support wildlife. 

Not all of the trees to be topped, which were mainly black cherries, were. MacMullan said:  “Apparently one of the trees to be topped was a shad — and they don’t like to be topped.”

Kim Gaffett informed the Land Trust of some plans for improvements at the Ocean View Foundation’s property. “We’re starting to work on a new entry. We’ll be changing the slope and putting in some pavers,” she said. Since the OVF needs to go before both the HDC and the Sewer Commission for approvals, she said she would take the plans to those groups before formally presenting the design to the Land Trust. Besides the pavers, plantings and “landscaping delineations” will be added. “The main thing is the slope,” said Gaffett, “and trying to deal with erosion. I think it will be an improvement.”