State funds flow into Lake Tashmoo

Lt. Gov. Polito visits to survey the scene.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visited Vineyard Haven Saturday where she met with selectman Melinda Loberg, left, chairman Larry Gomez, left, and harbormaster John Crocker, right. — Lynn Christoffers

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined Tisbury town officials on Saturday afternoon at Lake Tashmoo to inspect town dock and boat-launch facilities before refurbishing begins in early fall. The work is to be paid for through a $680,000 state grant from the state Seaport Economic Council, whose work Ms. Polito oversees with evident enthusiasm.

Public events of this type typically are brief photo ops, but Ms. Polito embarked on a thorough and extended tour of the dockworks, peppering Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker with questions and comments related to the dock pier, bulkheads, and boat ramp at the foot of Lake Street on Lake Tashmoo. The refurbishing is expected to include some dredge work near the dock to deepen the channel, which currently limits access by commercial and personal craft.

The grant announcement in February said the funds will allow Tisbury “to significantly overhaul its Lake Tashmoo landing. The town will replace the public pier, bulkhead and launch ramp to accommodate rising sea levels and outdated infrastructure. Without replacement, public access to the landing will likely be curtailed due to safety concerns. The public pier currently serves the tourism economy through cruising vessels, sailing charters, and charter fisherman, as well as local and commercial fisherman.”

Ms. Polito was joined by assistant Seaport Economic Council deputy director Ellen Cebula; Kaylea Moore, liaison for state representative Dylan Fernandes; and Tisbury selectmen Larry Gomez and Melinda Loberg.

Lake Tashmoo, a 270-acre coastal pond, is fed with fresh water that enters the pond via groundwater and springs at its head. After the Hurricane of 1938, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the inlet and constructed jetties that created the current estuary and stabilized the opening at Vineyard Sound for navigation, according to the website of Tisbury Waterways, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The Seaport Economic Council has awarded $21 million in grants to 49 of the state’s 78 seacoast communities under a program created by executive order of Governor Charlie Baker in 2015, and the grant is among the largest approved under the program.

“Yes, this grant is on the larger side, and it reflects the quality of the Tisbury grant application,” Ms. Polito told a brief and impromptu press conference with Island media. “The grant process is very competitive, and Tisbury’s proposal clearly outlined the needs and potential benefits of their plan,” she said. The grant requires some town-raised funds, and Ms. Polito had praise for Mr. Crocker’s department, which provided $170,000 in revenue that it has raised through mooring and other fees.

“Most communities fold waterways revenues into general funds, and it’s terrific that you’ve been able to provide funds from your own revenues,” she told Mr. Crocker before stepping onto the town pier to begin her inspection tour, exclaiming “I love this stuff,” in an aside comment.

Lake Tashmoo is known as a safe harbor port for pleasure and commercial boats, but its degraded condition and channel depth have limited access for those craft. The town has made at least two attempts at triaging the landing area in recent years, spending upwards of $200,000 on repairs.