Tashmoo dredging needs immediate attention

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To the Editor:

At their Nov. 7 meeting, Tisbury selectmen refused to acknowledge a petition and large number of emails they received to express concern and pressure the town to dredge Tashmoo channel. Navigating through the channel has become dangerous due to severe shoaling. All Tashmoo mooring holders are concerned, and the concern needs to be publicly recognized. And the public should be allowed to speak the truth.

Selectmen are not getting the whole story. The channel requires dredging every other year, and has not been dredged since 2014. There are almost 300 moorings in Tashmoo, and now regular groundings in the channel affect vessels of all sizes. Everyone assumed the channel would be dredged this fall. There is now doubt.

In January 2016, it was no secret that the Harbor Department allowed the permits to expire, and has been slow to get them renewed. Issues should have been taken care of months ago. The delay has caused many missed opportunities. Dredging must be completed by Jan. 15 to protect winter flounder. If this date is missed, dredging will be delayed to fall 2018.

Even if the permits are received at the last minute, poor communication has made it impossible to schedule the Barnstable County Dredge, the right way to dredge the channel, no bid process required. It appears that the Harbor Department told no one about this, and planned to have the dredging done by a bid process with a local crane operator and barge. This method of dredging such a large amount of sand is not efficient, not environmentally sound, and produces a wide area of damaging silt, among other problems. Fine for small areas, or in combination with a dredge, but not for 15,000 yards of sand.

With all the environment concerns in Tashmoo, the town will have to decide between safety and protecting the environment. This is an unacceptable mess, and could have and should have been avoided if the harbormaster had used the resources and support available rather than trying to prove he could do it alone. If the permits are in order at the last minute, the three-week bid process will leave a very small window for a lot of work.

Lynne Fraker
Vineyard Haven