Menemsha dominates select board meeting

Commercial wharf survey finds section requiring urgent repair.


A detailed report by Childs Engineering found a number of slow burning problems with the commercial wharf in Menemsha and one urgent problem in the southeast corner of the structure near the Charter Dock. Some of the structural elements in that section are under-built and under threat of fungal decay, Harbormaster Ryan Rossi told the select board Tuesday night. 

“That portion of the dock was actually added after the dock was built and it was kind of just tacked onto the existing structure,” Rossi said. “So there’s not much support under that area. And there’s excessive wear on the cap logs that connect to each other and it makes kind of a house of cards effect. If one section falls, the rest will sort of domino with it.”

Rossi said that area requires “immediate attention” and until it’s addressed he has told fishermen to refrain from putting excessive weight such as heavy fish boxes down there.

“Generally speaking the dock and bulkhead are in fair condition,” Rossi said, “and in need of a lot of repair.”

Rossi said one option for overall dock repairs would be to tear out the docks and patch up the steel Z sheeting that forms the bulkhead. Rossi said this would be “costly” and probably grant 10 to 15 years of use. That option would necessitate rebuilding the docks only to have to rip them out again in 10 to 15 years in order to replace the bulkhead, Rossi noted.

Rossi said he intends to work with the harbor advisory committee to arrive at design solutions.

Select board chair Jim Malkin, the board’s harbor liaison, said he believed the harbor advisory committee had a recommendation.

Harbor advisory chair Jeff Maida said the committee previously voted unanimously to recommend emergency repairs be done on the southeast corner of the wharf. 

Overall, Maida said the Childs Engineering report was a “great report” and Rossi had done a “great” job working with Childs Engineering.

Malkin said the southeast corner of the wharf appears to represent a “fairly dire” problem.

Rossi said he met with John Packer, owner of Offshore Engineering, and sized up the southeast corner.

Rossi said Packer previously thought a lot more work would be needed and a crane barge would need to be brought in for the work. But after looking at the engineering drawings, Rossi said “we kind of both determined that the fix is going to be quite a bit easier than we originally thought.”

Rossi said no pile driving would be needed and all the work can either be done through use of a skiff or by working from the landside. 

“It would be beneficial to have it done before the season starts,” Rossi said.

Rossi said he didn’t think the work would cost more than $50,000. Rossi wasn’t able to provide a precise estimate, however. Select board member Bill Rossi said the estimate is needed to figure out if the town has sufficient money on hand to pay for the repair work. Select board member Warren Doty said fishermen sometimes need to drop heavy bait barrels on the dock in the areas in question and pointed out they appear to be temporarily losing the ability to do so. Ryan Rossi said fishermen will be able to place bait barrels and pots up on the bulkhead, if need be. 

Overall Doty called the report “really extensive” and “excellently done.”

Asked if he thinks the southeast section needs to be roped off, Rossi said it didn’t. “Pedestrian traffic seems to be OK at the time being,” he said. Only heavy items need to be excluded.

Rossi said in the future, overall replacement or repair designs for the wharf will be presented. 

Nomans connection 

After discussion with Patriot Party Boats owner Jim Tietje, the board voted unanimously to allow a 40-foot vessel to depart from and return to Menemsha with clean up and dock building contractors who will be working on Nomans Land. The vessel will begin trips on Aug. 22 and operate for six weeks. It will leave with workers at 6 am and return with them at 6 pm. Rossi said he could make a space available for the vessel, which he described as “a 40-foot Hatteras-style headboat,” on the West Dock. 

Tietje told the board he’d been tapped by AGM Marine who were working for USA Environmental. 

Tietje said the workers were expected to be housed on the Vineyard. “They plan to work six days a week, weather willing,” he said. 

Tietje said he is willing to pay the transient dockage fee of $3.10 a foot per night to secure space for the vessel. 

Rossi said the harbor’s two week stay limit for vessels would have to be suspended in Tietje’s instance and the time of year is very busy but since he’s willing to pay the transient dockage fee, the town would welcome the revenue. 

Rossi stressed Tietje would need to solidify the details of the dockage and commit to reserving the space before May, when a tsunami of dock reservations is expected to come. 

Rossi also said two worker vans could be parked at the West Dock near the vessel. 

“I’m hoping that I can find an Islander to run the boat,” Tietje said. “And maybe a local person to be crew as well.”

Asked by The Times if any material cleaned up from Nomans Land would be coming back landside to Chilmark, Tietje said it wouldn’t.

“It will probably go to Fish Island in New Bedford with AGM,” Tietje said.

In other business, the board learned an advisory committee for harbor security cameras on the West Dock had been named and unanimously endorsed the committee membership. The committee includes Ryan Rossi, Warren Doty, Jeff Maida, Julie Flanders, Deborah Hancock, Andrew Goldman, and Stephen Lewenberg.

The board also unanimously approved a security camera policy for the harbor that underwent what town administrator Tim Carroll described as “minor tinkering” by Rossi, Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren, and former Chilmark Police Chief Tim Rich. 

“I think it’s a good policy and a good step forward,” Chief Klaren said.

The board authorized Carroll to contact Aquinnah town administrator Jeff Madison about ramp area repairs between the Galley Restaurant and Buddy Vanderhoop’s shack. The work is meant to keep Boathouse Road, which runs adjacent to the ramp, in good order. Since half the road and ramp are in Aquinnah, the board hoped Aquinnah would foot half of what was estimated to be a $3,000 cost for ramp repairs and road maintenance.