Friends of Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs MA

Time Line

Shellfish planting and harvest records, compiled by Richard Madeiras, OB Shellfish constable (some years no data was available)
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1985 August 13th
Samplings by Frank Barvenik
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1985 August 17th
Petition urging town action to increase tidal flow, signed by 31 neighbors and taxpayers.
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1985 August 22nd
Martha's Vineyard Times article "Farm Pond Endangered"
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1985 August 23rd
Vineyard Gazette article by Mark Lovewell "Oak Bluffs Selectmen Request Emergency Aid to Farm Pond"
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1985 August 26th
Letter from Carol Borer, MV Commission to OB Selectmen and Board of Health
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1985 August 29th
letter from Frank Barvenik to OB selectmen "Farm Pond, Emergency Action" cited recommendations made by Carol Borer, discussion of alternatives with reference to fecal coliform levels, decaying vegetation, anaerobic bottom waters, shellfish problems, eutrophication, excessive mosquito problems in 1985-85
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1985 Late Summer
preliminary efforts by members of Harthaven community and residents of the North shore of Farm Pond to install sand fencing and plant beach grass, in order to stabilize barrier beach

1985 September 5th
OB Conservation Commission declares one month state of emergency.

1985 September 10th
Vineyard Gazette article "Farm Pond Wins Emergency Status"
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1985 September 13th
Vineyard Gazette article "Oak Bluffs Selectmen Discuss Farm Pond Pollution Problems"
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1985 October 5th
Deadline to complete emergency work on Farm Pond opening.

1985 Autumn
Dredging of Harthaven channel into Farm Pond by White Brothers, from 100 feet south of footbridge to 500-700 feet north of footbridge. The channel was widened and deepened and piles of sand put on the beach. There was a verbal commitment from Harthaven to do the grading, fencing and planting. Large rocks were removed from the culvert. Some fencing was needed right away per Carol Borer. They still needed to do the relocation of the water pipe at the culvert but needed funding.

1985 November 8th
Vineyard Gazette article "Relations Among Oak Bluffs Selectmen Break Down Again"
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1986 July 1st
Report by Tena J. Davies " OAK BLUFFS--Shellfish--(V-15); REAPPRAISAL: Farm Pond, Hamlin Pond". * shoreline walking survey, observations of homes and general conditions

1988 May
"Report on the Hydrology and Water Quality Characteristics of Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts prepared by IEP, Inc., Sandwich, MA for OB Board of Health
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1988 July 20
Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries fecal coliform testing. 2 of 3 samples > 64 per 100 ml (vs, shellfish standard of 14 per 100 ml)

1988 week of 7/29/88
Town of OB on emergency basis hired a crane to excavate channel in barrier beach. Within days much of the algae growth flushed out and neighbors reported improved water quality

1988 August 18th
Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries fecal coliform testing. Highest measurement = 11 fecal coliforms per 100 ml ("acceptable" for shellfhishing); Note by FWB: there is no statistical difference between 11 and 14 (the shellfish limit); the test is inherently imprecise. (Vineyard Gazette 9/16/88)

1988 early September
Experimental opening was closed by an ocean storm - "The experiment is over." " The land is three feet higher than it was before they cut it. You can't even tell wher the cut was." (Vineyard Gazette article, 9/16/88 )

1988 September 16th
Vineyard Gazette article "State Tests Show a Vast Improvement After Opening of Farm Pond to Ocean".
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1990 Summer
Closed to shellfishing by Division of Marine Fisheries

1990 September 11
Memo from OB Board of Health agent, Cynthia Barletta to Local Boards and Supporters, "Support for Farm Pond ENF, EOEA # 8388, Farm Pond" * request for letters in support of project to be sent to the Mass. Environmental Affairs secretary

1990 November 14th
Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission holds a public hearing to discuss the proposed installation of a culvert beneath Beach Pond in order to restore tidal flushing in Farm Pond.
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1990 November 23
Vineyard Gazette article by W.C. Platt "Nature Acts on Pond but State Delays"
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1991 May 28
Memo from OB Board of Health to OB Conservation Commission declaring a public health emergency due to: Harthaven channel blocked, smell of decaying algae, potential flooding of homes and septic systems, potential to develop high levels of fecal coliforms as in the past. The US Center of Disease control notification of danger of mosquito borne eastern encephalitis, and damage to the alewife and shellfish fisheries.

1991 June 01
"Final Environmental Impact Report, Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts"
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Small culverts built between Farm Pond and Vineyard Sound.
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1999 Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission and Oak Bluffs Highway Department installed a large stormwater infiltrator into Viera Park to catch the first 1 inch of rain before the over flow is discharged into Farm Pond through and 18 inch cement culvert.

Shellfish Committee asked Constable to investigate whether or not Farm Pond could be opened for shellfishing. The pond was placed on the MA DMF “Prohibited” list about 1985.

Robert Hayden –senior tax work off – researched and prepared a historical background report on Farm Pond.
With funding from Coastal Zone Management “Coastal Pollution Remediation” program the Town of Oak Bluffs installed an infiltrator system into Viera Park to entrap the first one inch of rain water before any of the stormwater entered Farm Pond.

12/2001 - 11/2002 monitored 3 sites analyzed for coliform bacteria spiked high mid May – early October tested clean in winter months possible candidate for MA DMF “conditional approval” for shell fishing; same as OB harbor is currently

Successfully lobbied to have Farm Pond included in Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s (MVC) monitoring program beginning in the 2003 season With the 2005 seasonal water quality work – gives us 3 yrs of data. The monitoring has continued and will continue.
MA Division of Marine Fisheries collected a round (August) of water samples and results showed coliform bacterial contamination.

Dave Grunden receives funds to conduct water quality testing of Farm Pond (a requirement for joining the Massachusetts Estuary Project). Study begins with help from the Martha's Vineyard Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection. (Gazette).

MA Division of Marine Fisheries collected two rounds (June and August) of water samples and results showed coliform bacterial contamination

October 2004 Farm Pond placed on Coastal Zone's Wetlands Restoration Program's priority list of ponds in need of help (Gazette article).

MA Division of Marine Fisheries collected two rounds of water samples in April and results showed coliform bacterial contamination. In the earlier round (April 8) only one of four sample sites showed contamination

September/October 2004 issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine had feature article “Saving Farm Pond”
Click to read article

December 2004 placed onto MA Coastal Zone Management (CMZ) "wetlands restoration priority list".
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Aerial photo of Farm Pond from 2005 (photo from MassGIS) with various shorelines overlaid. Shorelines are from Mass. Coastal Zone Management Agency. Shoreline Year – Red is 1846, Orange is 1897, Yellow is 1955, Green is 1978.
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Farm Pond Association is formed to help protect and revitalize the pond. Friends of Farm Pond was launched in 2005 by an informal meeting at the culvert and the group was solidified by inviting Jane Goodall to the home of Martha Shaw with the Island's environmental leaders to discuss how to effectively build community around an issue.
Click to learn more.

Spring 2005 MA Coastal Zone Management began work on Farm Pond

Summer 2005 New photos ground truthed by private surveying firm Developed bathymetric map of pond itself.

Summer, 2005 Martha's Vineyard Commission, with the help of the state and local volunteers, conducts a survey of eel grass beds in the pond using new GPS technology. They found a total of 12 acres. The data is being compared to a survey done eight years ago. (Gazette)
More information on Eel Grass Survey.

Further studies are done by the MA Division of Maring Fisheries and the Coastal Zone Management. With now three years of water quality data Farm Pond became eligible to enter into MA Estuaries Project.
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December 2005 Farm Pond was placed onto the Corporate Partnership Restoration Priority List.

Permits granted to Town of Oak Bluffs to maintain culverts in Farm Pond.

Spring 2006 MA Division of Marine Fisheries collected a round of water samples on March 13 and it tested clean

2006 March
Coastal Zone Management funds study to create flushing model for Farm Pond and make recommendations for remediation.
Hydrodynamic and Inlet Alternatives Analysis for Farm Pond, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts prepared by Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, Inc. for Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management
Click here to view report

April annual town meeting it was voted to appropriate Town’s share of funding ($20,000) to enter Pond into Massachusetts Estuaries Project.

David Grunden reports: "The health of Farm Pond is declining, but there is still enough time to save it and restore it. This is a time to be proactive." (Gazette)

May 8, 2006, David Grunden met on site with representatives from NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, MA Division of Marine Fisheries, Land Bank, MVC, and Hart Haven Community. They discussed the goal to get Farm Pond opened for shellfishing and generally improve the quality and health of the pond.

Summer 2006, TNC made avian species list. OB Shellfish:Marine and estuarine species inventory. MA DMF assistance estimate standing shellfish population. Woods Hole Sea Grant assistance. Met with BOH and searched records of homes within watershed. TNC provided summer interns to assist the search. MVC: continue water quality monitoring.Update eel grass mapping.

(Fall) culvert cleaned and opened.
Click to view photos.

October 2006, Greg Skomal, a state Division of Marine Fisheries biologist, completes a survey of fishes in the pond. (Gazette)
Click to view Farm Pond Species Inventory.

Farm Pond declared a part of Massachusetts Estuaries Project.

December 2006 Oak Bluffs Board of Health adopted regulations that at property ownership change the septic system must be improved to at least a title V system. Prior to this the system only needed to be inspected and found not to be a failed system.

Fall/Winter 06-07 Began developing species inventory list from summer 06 field data Analyzed 06 field data and estimated standing populations of quahogs and steamer clams
Click to view Farm Pond Species Inventory List.

Fall/Winter 06-07 Began tabulating data mined from OB BOH records re: development and Housing within watershed.
Click to view Farm Pond Watershed.

More research funded by MA Coastal Zone Management.
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Oak Bluffs is developing a program to encourage home owners within the town (including Farm Pond) to upgrade to denitrifying septic systems. $20,000.00 from the Community Preservation Act Funds was approved at a special town meeting in April.

CPA funds $10,000.00 to purchase state of the art GPS/GIS hardware and software and also training. This advancement will allow the Town of Oak Bluffs better monitor the changes in and around the pond – including the spread of invasive species particularly in the salt marshes.

2007 new jellyfish found in Farm Pond
Gonionemus vertens: New to the Vineyard - During an eelgrass sampling project in late June in Farm Pond, we were stung by small jellyfish that seemed to come up out of the eelgrass blades when we disturbed them. The jellyfish were somewhat unusual in that they had a cross marking against their otherwise clear bell.
Click to learn more about the new jellyfish.

A petition is created to show support in opening the second culvert to Farm Pond which is currently plugged.
view petition

Public hearing scheduled for November 13th - the following was posted in the Gazette on November 2nd, 2007
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2007, December 8th
604b proposal and letter of support by David Grunden. David asks for all of the Friends of Farm Pond to submit letter of support as well.
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2009- August 5th. Progress towards unplugging the Farm Pond Culvert
Army Corp of Engineers Permit Issued. To the best of our knowledge this is the last federal permit that Mass Highways required that we have prior to their approving and issuing the Mass Highway Access Permit. They have made us jump through a lot of hoops. Hopefully they will allow us to do this small project soon.
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October 15th, 2009 - removal of plugs from second culvert
A cold and rainy day in October, but the spirits were high as David Grunden and his team removed the plugs from the second culvert.
click here to view photos

July 8, 2010 A public presentation of the recently completed inlet alternatives report to alleviate the flushing restriction at Farm Pond
A public presentation of the recently completed inlet alternatives report to alleviate the flushing restriction at Farm Pond will be held July 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM in the Library Meeting Room John Ramsey of Applied Coastal Engineering will make the presentation. This study was commissioned by the MA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s Division of Ecological Restoration Office.

2011, March 9th. Project Design and Permitting Kickoff Meeting for the Culvert Replacement
Farm Pond Tidal Restoration meeting to kick off the project design and permitting for the new culvert.
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2011, November ENF and 25% DOT/Access Permit for Farm Pond Submitted
Jeff Oakes of CLE Engineering submitted an ENF and 25% DOT/Access Permit for Farm Pond. Click on the link for copies of the plans.
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2011, November 15th, Grant Reward and Permit Filing
Initial permits are filed, and an $80,000 grant is rewarded from Restore America's Estuaries.
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2011, November 22nd, Review and Site Visit
MA Environmental Policy Act review and site visit is scheduled for 1 PM November 22nd at the Town Hall in the smaller meeting room downstairs. All are welcome to attend.

2012, October, Proposal for Funding
The first of two proposals that David Grunden is submitting to the town to request funding through the Community Preservation Act.
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2013, May 17, Meeting to discuss floodgate alternatives for the Farm Pond culvert
The engineers from Fuss and O’Neil, Franz from the MA Division of Ecological Restoration and Eric Hutchins from NOAA will be attending. The meeting will be Friday (17th) at 10:30 AM in one of the downstairs meeting rooms in the Town Hall.

January 2014, Letter of Support
Martha Shaw created a letter of support for enlarging the opening of Farm Pond to the sea. "On behalf of The Friends of Farm Pond, a group of homeowners who have properties around the periphery of this valuable intertidal watershed, I write this letter in support of enlarging the opening of Farm Pond to the sea, to which it once flowed freely."
Click here to read full letter.

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