Town dredging needs, including the possibility of a lease or purchase of a dredge, and needed repairs to the dock at Owen Park topped the discussion at the Tisbury selectmen’s meeting Tuesday.
Selectmen heard a presentation from Steve Miller of Ellicott Dredge in Baltimore, Md. Mr. Miller gave estimates for purchasing or leasing a dredge, including operation, maintenance and fuel costs. To buy would cost about $500,000, and to lease would cost $30,000 a month.
Harbor master Jay Wilbur said the harbor management and dredge committees have been discussing alternate ways to dredge in town after the state stopped subsidizing the projects two years ago.
Mr. Wilbur said the back channel of the Vineyard Haven harbor requires 28,000 cubic yards of dredging; the estimated cost of renting and operating a dredge is $400,000.
“In the past the state would have paid three-quarters of the cost,” Mr. Wilbur said after the meeting. “At that rate it made perfect sense to hire somebody. Now that the state is not paying anymore and the projects still cost around $400,000 and you can buy a dredge for $500,000, it requires a harder look.”
He said next year Lake Tashmoo will need dredging, as it does every two years. Other future dredging sites include both sides of the ferry dock and some parts of Lagoon Pond.
“We keep just doing the minimum to keep [the waters] open to flushing and navigation,” Mr. Wilbur said. “Everything is filling with sand. On one hand, it would likely make sense for us to own a dredge, but on the other hand, the economics may not make sense. We need more analysis.”
Funds for the harbor dredging project were one of many requests reviewed by the selectmen for the ferry embarkation fee fund. Charged by the Steamship Authority on passenger tickets, the embarkation fees go into a fund for each of the port towns.
Selectman Tristan Israel said the town typically collects about $250,000.
Other requests for use of the money include $35,000 to replace a fire department truck, $13,000 for an ambulance service CPR device and $55,000 to pay for four traffic officers in the summer season. The requests will be reviewed by a town committee with final decisions made by voters at the annual town meeting in April. The date for the annual town meeting this year is April 9.
Mr. Wilbur also told the selectmen that repairs to the Owen Park dock which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy are estimated at $150,000. Mr. Israel said the town is hoping for federal or state reimbursement, but the money may not come in time. “Whatever we do, we want to do it early enough so we aren’t stuck without a dock come late April,” he said.
The selectmen said they will put a placeholder article for the dock repair on the annual town warrant.
After a public hearing, the board voted to amend town shellfish regulations to clarify the definition of a standard bushel basket and gang dredge. A gang dredge is defined as two or more dredges fastened together side by side.
Shellfish constable Danielle Ewart said gang dredging is prohibited and punishable by loss of license.
Karen Casper, chairman of the library trustees, requested town counsel for a hearing on Dec. 19 involving a library patron whose computer privileges have been suspended for six months. The patron, who has not been named, may also bring legal counsel to the hearing, she said. The hearing is an appeal by the patron. According to a letter received by the selectmen from library director Amy Ryan, library trustees voted on Nov. 28 to suspend the patron’s privileges following an incident on Nov. 20. “The library board wishes to act responsibly to protect the interests of the town as well as the rights of the patron,” Ms. Ryan said.
The selectmen also voted to approve a year-round beer and wine license for Cafe Moxie, and approved vacation and renovation closing dates for Little House Cafe from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, and Feb. 18 to March 17.
The fire station demolition will now be scheduled between mid-January and early February.
The selectmen will meet again on Dec. 18.