Negotiations delay Sengekontacket dredging, spark frustration

Negotiations over the use of Edgartown’s town owned dredge for an Oak Bluffs project to improve water quality in Sengekontacket Pond sparked criticism at Tuesday’s Oak Bluffs selectmen’s meeting.

The long delayed dredging of the channel between Big Bridge and Little Bridge is expected to enhance circulation in the popular salt pond, which straddles the border between the two towns. For the past three summers, state officials have closed Sengekontacket Pond to shellfishing because tests indicated bacterial contamination of the water.

“Working with the (Edgartown) dredge committee is very frustrating,” said chairman Duncan Ross, who is also chairman of the Joint Oak Bluffs-Edgartown Sengekontacket Restoration Committee. “The idea was cooperation, and I don’t see as much cooperation as I think there should be.”

Town administrator Michael Dutton said the two towns are in the process of completing contract negotiations. “The stumbling block is some of the mobilization charges they want to charge us,” Mr. Dutton said.

“They started out at $50,00 for mobilization, which is outrageous,” Mr. Ross said. “They now said okay, $25,000, which, I still submit to you, is outrageous.”

Mr. Dutton said rumors surround the eagerly anticipated project. “There is some suggestion we weren’t showing up at their meetings,” Mr. Dutton said. “That comes from the fact that they cancelled a meeting for us. We were there ready to go. Then they rescheduled the meeting and didn’t tell us. There was some communication lapse there.”

Norman Rankow, chairman of the Edgartown dredge committee, did not return a phone call made Wednesday morning from The Times requesting comment.

Oak Bluffs voters authorized $500,000 in borrowing to fund the dredging project. Mr. Dutton said he is still negotiating costs and gathering estimates, but even including income from the expected sale of dredged sand, costs of the project could exceed that amount.