Chilmark doubles mooring fees

Harbormaster gets tough on dinghies; town valued at $3.5 billion, assessor says.

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Chilmark has updated its regulations on dinghies and doubled its mooring fees. — Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark selectmen unanimously approved updates and alterations to the town’s waterway regulations Tuesday night. The changes include increases in fees, strictures on slips, and requirements for dinghies. The starkest change was in mooring fees, which doubled. 

Harbormaster Ryan Rossi said the Harbor Department will increase the annual mooring fee from $100 to $200 “in order to generate more funding for the waterways management fund.”

Rossi told the board that prior to the increase, Chilmark had the lowest mooring fees on the Vineyard. 

Rossi later told The Times the fees are now on par with Edgartown. Asked if he thought the increase might prove hard on boater’s wallets, he said, “I don’t imagine it will be a hardship for anybody.”

He stressed the price was quite fair, given what mooring fees run in the region. 

As part of his presentation of changes, Rossi said a clear definition of what a dinghy is may help stop small pleasure boats masquerading as tenders at Harriph’s Creek. 

“A dinghy means a small boat less than eight feet overall, used solely as a means of transportation to and from a moored vessel,” read aloud. “That one is to cut down on the number of larger boats that were being kept at the Harriph’s Creek Dock in Quitsa. There was some speculation that there were a few boats down there that were being used not for dinghy purposes but for recreational use.”

Other language in the updated regulations also ensure dinghy owners will behave at Harriph’s Creek. “The floating dock at Harriph’s Creek is principally for loading and unloading from moored boats,” the regulations state. “No dinghy shall be tied to the designated loading/unloading zone marked on the face of the dock. Any dinghy propelled by machinery (gas or electric) must have a valid state registration displayed on the hull to be kept at the dock. Violators may be fined in accordance with the Fee and Fine schedule. All users must also follow any and all rules posted on the dock.”

Rossi told the board those who fail to get a permit sticker for their dinghy could lose their dinghy. 

“A dinghy permit decal will be issued to each mooring permit holder with the same identification number as their mooring,” he said, reading from the regulations. “This sticker shall be placed inside the hull of the dinghy on the transom aft, so it can be seen easily from the dock. Failure to display the decal will result in a fine and removal of the dinghy from the dock.”

Rules for sale of a boat were among the changes to slip regulations in the Menemsha Basin. 

“If a slip owner sells their boat, he or she must receive written permission from the harbormaster for a one-year grace period,” Rossi read. “If there’s no new boat by the next boating season, the slip will be allocated to the next person on the waiting list.”

Rossi told the board that with the exception of “paying transient customers,” liveaboards are generally forbidden in the Menemsha Basin. 

“Commercial captains and their crew may spend the night aboard their boats for no more than 24 hours when they are temporarily affixed to the commercial bulkhead after off-loading catch,” he read. “Special circumstances may be considered for vessels in need of repair or beset by weather conditions.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved a tax rate of $2.91 per $1,000 valuation following a tax classification hearing. Assessor Pam Bunker recommended no changes to town tax classifications, and none were made. Bunker reported the assessed value of Chilmark is $3,460,760,740 (roughly $3.5 billion). 

“Our town’s value went up 2.6 percent this year,” she said. “The average assessment for FY21 is $1.4 million. The average tax bill this year is $4,400. This represents an increase of $192 annually.”

The board also voted 2-0 to reappoint Joan Malkin to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Selectman Jim Malkin, Joan’s spouse, recused himself from the vote.