Repairs needed for Oak Bluffs harbor fuel
Well into the summer season, there is still no fuel available for boaters in Oak Bluffs Harbor, but town administrator Michael Dutton is "very hopeful" that the harbor's only commercial fuel outlet will be operating soon.
An inspector from the state fire marshal's office was on the Island Monday to examine the fuel facility on Church's Pier. The pumps were operated last year by businessmen Mark and Mike Wallace. According to Oak Bluffs fire chief Peter Forend, the fire marshal directed further work on a compromised fuel storage tank buried near the pier. According to Mark Wallace, the tank will not have to be removed, but can be capped by filling it with cement. He hopes to complete that work within a week. "Everything else is working fine," said Mr. Wallace.
That tank was damaged in July of 2007 when a delivery driver tried to fill a tank that was already full, causing 700 gallons of diesel fuel to be spilled. "Until the state fire marshal signs off, I won't issue a permit," said Chief Forend.
Earlier this year, Oak Bluffs launched a plan to sell marine fuel from temporary tanks that would be located near the harbormaster's shack.
The town won approval from the Martha's Vineyard Commission, but it is still seeking permits from various town boards and state agencies. Originally the town targeted the July 4th weekend to begin dispensing fuel, but that schedule has been pushed back.
"Realistically, if we had to do that, it would probably be the beginning of August," town administrator Michael Dutton told selectmen Tuesday. He said the town would not move forward with the temporary plan if fuel is readily available from a commercial vendor.
Mr. Dutton said the town is working with the Wallaces to expedite the repairs to the damaged fuel tank. The town is concerned that boaters will avoid Oak Bluffs if fuel is not available there. The town receives nearly $1 million in revenue from the harbor, mostly in the form of mooring and slip rental fees from visiting boaters.