Permitting issues and financial constraints have posed some obstacles to the long-planned improvements at Lake Tashmoo, one of the Island’s most popular recreational and commercial fishing waterways.

A project to completely rebuild the Lake street boat ramp, bulkhead and dock in Vineyard Haven is now on schedule to be completed by spring, but a project to dredge the entrance channel from Vineyard Sound will be delayed at least five months, and more likely a year.

Major state grant will help pay for the work. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The Lake street landing project is funded by a $680,000 state grant and $170,000 in funds earmarked by Tisbury taxpayers.

Work began at the Lake street site Dec. 19, and continued daily through the bitterly cold weather of late December and early January. International Golf Construction company was awarded a contract to rebuild the pier, the steel harbor bulkhead and boat ramp. Much of the work of driving piles for the new dock has been completed, town officials said this week. Work has begun to prepare the site for construction of the bulkhead.

There were some hiccups in permitting when town wanted to make four changes in the original plans that were permitted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Designers decided to raise the height of the pier by a foot, to account for future sea level rise, and also to slightly extend the steel bulkhead.

Conservation agent Jane Varkonda said she expects approval for the modifications from the town’s conservation commission, and DEP in about 30 days.

“These changes were minor, they’re no big deal,” Ms. Varkonda said.

Two other late design changes will take considerably longer, perhaps a year or more.

According to Ms. Varkonda, a design drawing error set the width of the new dock at eight feet, and that was the drawing approved by state and town permitting authorities. The town actually intended to widen the current 9.5-foot-wide pier to 12 feet. A design change also called for relocation of the floating dinghy dock.

The two changes will require amendments to the original DEP permit.

“Unfortunately state procedures are old,” said Ms. Varkonda. “Even minor amendments, it’s like getting a whole new license.”

Tisbury harbor master John Crocker, who serves as the project manager for the operation, said the town will continue the process of applying for the two modifications, but will not implement them at this time, because it would likely hold up the project past next spring.

“We can’t do that,” Mr. Crocker said. “We are applying for that . . . some day, that’s something we would like to do, but we can’t get permit modifications in time to accomplish that.”

Permitting issues also threw a monkey wrench into Tisbury’s plan to dredge the entrance channel to Lake Tashmoo. Sand has shoaled up on a bar just outside the entrance as well as inside the channel, causing frequent groundings of recreational boaters unfamiliar with Island waters.

International Golf Construction is the contractor on the job. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“There’s no question that Tashmoo needs to be dredged,” said Mr. Crocker. “That’s not a topic of debate.”

The harbor master said he completed the 18-month process of renewing expired dredging permits in November, which put the dredging project on a tight time schedule. Because of environmental regulations to protect winter fish and shellfish species, dredging projects must be completed by Jan. 15.

Mr. Crocker said the contractor that has proved most economical for the town in the past, the Barnstable County dredge, was already booked.

Bids for the dredging work were opened on Dec. 14. Mr. Crocker said the short time frame drove up the cost of the project.

Of the three contractors who submitted bids, the lowest bid was $275,000. The town had earmarked $193,000 for the dredging.

“The dredging is not going forward due to cost,” said town administrator John (Jay) Grande. “The harbor master will revisit that project in the spring.”

Mr. Crocker said he has applied for a modification to the dredging permit that would allow the work to begin in May, but is not optimistic that it will be allowed.

He said if town meeting voters approve an additional $100,000 in April, the town will have enough money to dredge the entrance channel to a depth of seven feet at mean low water.

The harbor master said once funding is in place, dredging could begin next fall.

Lynn Fraker, a frequent critic of Tisbury town officials, charged in a letter to the Gazette this week that the process of planning and bidding the Lake Tashmoo projects were flawed.

“The lack of transparency and disregard for public comment has been overwhelming, even for Tisbury,” Ms. Fraker wrote. “The inability for the harbor master to give straight, honest and complete information to anyone on many issues continues to be a serious problem.”

Tisbury officials refute the charge.

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Larry Gomez, chairman of the board of selectmen. “It’s a matter of asking questions and the harbor master answering. If he answers in a way that’s not satisfactory then someone says we’re not open. We’re working to the best of our ability.”

The harbor master said the town has followed permitting regulations and bidding procedures as required by law.

“We put it out to bid, we opened the bids. All that stuff is public record,” Mr. Crocker said. “We chose the contractor that would get the job done in the appropriate time frame with the money that we had. How else do you do it?”

The town has created a link on its web page with updates on the Tashmoo projects. (