Chilmark mulls another Menemsha headboat

Detective Jesse Burton, right, asked for permission to operate a headboat out of Menemsha. - Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark selectmen learned on Tuesday night at their biweekly meetings, that police detective Jesse Burton wished to operate a charter boat, also known as a headboat, out of Menemsha. Burton told the board he wants to do tour cruises as opposed to fishing cruises, and wanted to come and go from whatever dock space is available.

Selectman Jim Malkin, the board’s harbor liaison, said when Steve Broderick proposed bringing the Skylark to Menemsha for fishing trips, a good deal of opinion and emotion rose up, in part,  because other folks tried and failed to get permission for their own charter ideas prior to Broderick. Broderick ultimately received permission, but not without taking flak from harbor stakeholders, notably fishermen and advocates for the fishing community, who feared fishing boat dock space would suffer.

“There is a real concern in the community about expanding beyond fishing and having more vessels in the harbor other than either fishing or private recreational boats,” Malkin said to Burton. “I’m not saying I’m leaning one way or the other on this, but I want to make that clear to you and to everybody else. This has been a big issue in town.”

Selectman Bill Rossi suggested the matter be brought before the harbor advisory committee, and said he wasn’t prepared to make a decision yet.

“I think it’s a good idea,” harbormaster Ryan Rossi said. “I think there would be a few things that would need to be ironed out.” Rossi said when Burton expected to sail was an important factor to consider because dock space may be occupied at different times throughout the day.

Burton told the board he thought Chapter 91 law would permit him to operate the type of business he’s aiming for in Menemsha.

Chairman Warren Doty asked Burton if, in order for his business plan to succeed, he needed to run tours at the busiest sunset hours in Menemsha.

Burton said that was a key component in his charter plan.

The board took the matter under advisement and planned to revisit it at their next meeting, after the harbor advisory committee has a chance to explore the idea.