Menemsha harbormaster thanks all who helped and adds a cautionary note


To the Editor:

The fire on July 12, which rapidly engulfed the historic Coast Guard boathouse in Menemsha Harbor, was disastrous. But what could have been a horrific tragedy with loss of life, serious injuries and major loss of property was averted by the rapid and skilled response of emergency services personnel and members of the harbor community.

While firemen from all over the Island fought the fire, fishermen helped to move local fishing boats and visiting boats to safe locations and other emergency personnel and volunteers helped to evacuate visitors and vehicles from Menemsha.

There are many unsung heroes, and rather than pick out one, or even many names, for special commendation, I am writing on behalf of the harbor, the town, and our wider maritime community, to thank everyone who acted that day or who has volunteered subsequently to help clean up and get the harbor up and functioning again.

Thank you, and well done.

On another topic, as Menemsha Harbor is recovering from the disastrous fire which consumed the Coast Guard Boathouse and various parts of the harbor infrastructure of car way and docks, as well as boats, we have been juggling boats around the harbor to ensure that our fishing community can get back to work, and making sure that recreational boaters can visit the harbor.

We have also been working with owners who lost boats or whose boats were damaged to make sure that their problems are resolved. And the selectmen, the executive secretary and my department are working to effect repairs to the West/Filled Dock as promptly as possible. Some of this can be accomplished quickly, but there are parts of the puzzle which will take months.

Chilmark and the Coast Guard have had a long and honorable history of working together to ensure the safety and well being of the local maritime community, and we very much appreciate the efforts of the local Coast Guard personnel, who have worked hard to assist during this difficult time.

We understand that there is a detailed legal process (dictated by higher-ups) that needs to be followed in this and similar situations. Some members of the maritime community have criticized the process, but they should be aware that it is necessary in order to make sure that any and all claims are processed in an efficient and effective manner.

We appreciate everyone’s hard work, offers of assistance, and we appreciate your patience and cooperation. Thanks.

Dennis Jason