Edgartown selectmen want suspension of fuel dock closure

The Edgartown fuel dock is currently closed. — Photo by Steve Myrick

The office of the state fire marshall has told Edgartown it cannot operate its fuel dock without required upgrades. The prospect of having no marine fuel in Edgartown Harbor for Memorial Day weekend, and perhaps longer, prompted town administrator Pam Dolby to ask fuel supplier Ralph Packer to attend the Monday meeting of the Edgartown selectmen and explain.

The state fire marshal inspected the fuel facility, which Mr. Packer’s R.M. Packer Company in Tisbury rents from the town, two weeks ago. He declared the equipment could not be used until it is repaired and upgraded.

Mr. Packer said if the fire marshall can be convinced to issue a temporary reprieve, he can have fuel available on the harbor by Memorial Day.

Harbormaster Charlie Blair said that would take a miracle.

“The timing on this couldn’t be worse,” Mr. Blair said. “This fuel dock has sat empty for seven and a half months, and nobody has touched the fuel service. Not having fuel means people are going to go to a gas station, fill jerry jugs, and try to dump them into their boats. Probably somebody is going to get burned to a crisp trying to do this.”

Mr. Blair said his concern extends beyond the coming holiday weekend.

“All the work we’ve done to promote our harbor, without fuel service, it’s just putting a nail in our coffin,” Mr. Blair said. “I’m fearing we won’t have fuel in June or July.”

Mr. Packer said he is concerned about safety and wants to install state of the art equipment.

“The investment for our company is about $30,000,” Mr. Packer said. “It does take time and it does take money.”

Mr. Packer says he also wants to negotiate a new lease for the town property.

“I think what Ralph is leaning toward here is he wants part of the rent to go toward this expense,” Ms. Dolby said.

Selectmen asked Mr. Blair to join Edgartown Fire Chief Peter Shemeth to seek a temporary suspension of the state fire marshall’s decision and report progress to the town administrator.