Squibnocket Project legal fee tally hits six figures

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The Squibnocket Bridge (or causeway).

After years of meetings, planning, and litigation, the twofold project to restore Squibnocket Beach and to erect a bridge (or causeway, as its owners insist) to the Squibnocket Farm subdivision came to a close in December when John Keene Excavation finished the last piece of work remaining — installation of a skiff ramp along Squibnocket Pond.

The town of Chilmark recently disclosed the total legal cost of the Squibnocket project. The sum includes costs associated with lawsuits against the bridge, as well as general legal charges for work on other aspects of the project. Between fiscal years 2016 to 2019, Reynolds, Rappaport, Kaplan, and Hackney invoiced $114,249.99 for legal services as town counsel, according to town accountant Ellen Biskis. Of that figure, only $539 hasn’t been paid, because it was recently billed.

“The project took a lot longer than I would have liked for many reasons,” Chilmark selectmen chairman and former Squibnocket committee chairman Jim Malkin said. “But I’m delighted the town has a beach that its residents can enjoy for many generations to come. The town wanted the beach, parking, and access for the subdivision. All of that has been achieved, and it looks terrific.”

“The case was never about driving up legal fees for the other parties,” Dan Larkosh, attorney for Doug Liman and David Stork, said. Stork and Liman, both Chilmark property owners, sued both Chilmark and Squibnocket Farm over the bridge. Toward the end of 2018, they withdrew their case. “The goal in every case is to seek justice,” Larkosh said.