Former Edgartown dredge chairman offers to pay town bills

Norman Rankow, who resigned his position as chairman of the Edgartown dredge advisory committee in February, has offered to pay all the town’s legal bills and other costs related to an unpermitted dredging project.

Mr. Rankow, a general contractor, has admitted that he authorized the dredging of a private pier owned by one of his clients, without the required federal or state permits, and without the knowledge of the other dredge committee members. The dredging vessel is owned by the town and staffed by town employees.

“In light of the recent incident with respect to my involvement with the dredge committee and subsequent permitting issues at a dock site in Edgartown harbor,” Mr. Rankow wrote in a letter dated March 12 addressed to the board of selectmen, “I would like to offer to pay for whatever legal and or subsequent expenses the town may incur for this event. I want to again apologize for whatever harm I may have caused the town or my fellow committeemen and women.”

Selectmen have asked the state ethics commission to investigate Mr. Rankow’s role in the project.

Town officials say the legal costs of an investigation into the dredging project, and representation before state and federal regulators, totals $4,210 to date, and they expect substantial costs in the future.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which permits dredging projects, as well as several divisions of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, are considering possible sanctions against the town and the owners of the dock.

The sanctions could include restoration of the area, mitigation in the form of improvements in another part of the harbor, or fines.

The property owners, Stephen and Deborah Barnes, have already agreed to a marine survey of the location, to determine if any shellfish or eel grass beds were damaged by the dredging.