Edgartown, Chilmark awarded state grants

The scope of the proposed dredging project in Katama Bay.

Updated Sept. 10 

The Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council awarded $240,000 to Edgartown and $55,000 to Chilmark for coastal projects.

Edgartown’s grant will help cover the cost of engineering, designing, and permitting of the Katama Bay area.

“We’re looking to expand our existing comprehensive permit and utilize our town-owned dredge, which is unique for a lot of southeastern communities, for the actual execution,” Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said. “The overall intent is to improve some of the water quality of the commercial aquaculture of the town’s shellfish propagation programs.”

Hagerty estimated Edgartown’s shellfish production sends out 11,000 to 12,000 bushels annually to restaurants both on and off the Island — an industry worth $2 billion to $3.5 million.

Hagerty also stressed how busy the town’s harbor is in the summer season. 

“We opened at March 1 at 7 am. At 7:02 am, we sold out for the entire summer. The inflow that happens at Katama Bay and Edgartown Harbor is immense,” Hagerty said. “Dredging and improving that area is going to make it much more beneficial.”

Town voters approved a $60,000 match for the dredging project at town meeting in June.

In the future, the town can use dredging spoils from Katama Bay for nourishment of Norton Point and South Beach.

In a separate project funded through a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grant, the town is working with the Trustees of Reservations to restore primary coastal dunes at Norton Point and South Beach. Additionally, the CZM grant project will relocate one of three bathhouses 50 feet inland, remove an asphalt lot, and use native plants and compatible dredge material to create the dune. The Trustees partnered with Dukes County in a commitment to raise an $80,000 match for the restoration project.

Chilmark’s funds will be used to address the long-term economic and operational commercial fishing operations in Menemsha Harbor, particularly in relation to climate change.

“This is to fund an engineering assessment to determine the structural integrity of the bulkhead and best option for dock replacement moving forward,” Chilmark harbormaster Ryan Rossi told The Times in a phone conversation.

Rossi estimated that Chilmark harbor hosts more than 1,000 vessels annually, and is a permanent home to 42 resident boats. The harbor’s fishing docks are roughly 40 years old.

The project is being proposed in four phases. The first is the engineering assessment and reviewing options. The second phase will be design and community review. Third phase is engineering, and the fourth phase is construction. Rossi said he did not yet have a timeline on the project, since it was still in its beginning stages.

Updated with information on separate Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grant in Edgartown. — Ed.