After months of increasingly contentious correspondence, Edgartown town counsel has rejected The Trustees of Reservations’ claims that the land nonprofit does not own or have any responsibility to maintain the eastern side of the Dike bridge and aging bulkhead.

In a letter to town officials Monday, Ron Rappaport wrote that assessors records show the Trustees does own lots that include the deteriorating causeway and bulkhead, and the land trust should pitch in to fix the bridge. 

“I believe that [the Trustees] has incorrectly interpreted certain documents in its chain of title that assert ownership of the area in question and has overlooked the organization’s historical claims of ownership,” he wrote in the letter to town administrator James Hagerty and conservation agent Jane Varkonda.

The question of who should fund repairs to the Chappaquiddick bridge’s aging bulkhead has persisted for months, ever since an engineering firm hired by the town estimated the cost of repairs to be upwards of $4 million. No decisions have been made on the bridge’s future but town officials have called on action to be taken in the short-term.

In October, the select board wrote to the conservation commission stating that the commission should only approve oversand vehicle activity on the Trustees’ Chappaquiddick properties – activity that is accessible solely through the Dike bridge – if the organization can divert some of its revenue to repair and maintenance of the bridge. 

In response, Trustees attorney Dylan Sanders wrote to the conservation commission claiming the Trustees does not own the land adjoining the eastern side of the bridge and the town should instead work with the organization to seek state funding for repairs. 

Mr. Rappaport’s letter urged the Trustees to put forth a new financial proposal of how it plans to address repairs. 

“While [the Trustees] previously stated that it would present a proposal, the most recent suggestion that there only be a joint application for state funding does not advance the dialogue in the absence of a recognition or acknowledgment by [the Trustees] that it will bear some of the financial responsibility for these expenses as the manager, steward and dominant tenant of the land it has historically claimed to own and control,” he wrote.

Mr. Sanders had also challenged the commission’s authority to require the Trustees to set aside funds for the bridge as part of approval for oversand vehicle permits. Mr. Rappaport said there is no existing regulation stopping the town from issuing such a condition.

The letter comes just two days before the next public hearing to consider oversand vehicle access on the Trustees’ Chappaquiddick properties.

The hearing will take place 4 p.m. Dec. 6.