Edgartown suggests Trustees use sticker sales to fund Dike Bridge repair

The Trustees have said they will work with the town, but haven’t answered to the latest proposal.

Earlier this year, the Edgartown Highway Department undertook emergency repairs to Dyke Bridge.—Abigail Rosen

Updated Oct. 25

Officials in Edgartown are hoping that the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) will help pay for repairs to Chappaquidick’s Dike Bridge, and they are proposing using vehicle permit fees to do it. 

The bridge — widely known by its association with the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne — is owned jointly by the town of Edgartown and the Trustees.

According to the town, Edgartown owns the western approach to the bridge, while TTOR is responsible for the eastern side. For the Trustees, the ownership agreement is questionable.

Earlier this year, and in response to concerns raised by Chappaquiddick residents, Edgartown undertook emergency repairs to the eastern portion of the bridge, which according to engineering firm Tighe & Bond had been subject to weather-related erosion and deterioration, showing “significant decay in many areas.”

The estimated cost for long-term repairs, which includes a replacement of the wooden bulkhead on the western approach, is upwards of $4 million. 

In July, the Edgartown Select Board agreed to engage town counsel in drafting a letter to the Trustees, requiring them to make “some sort of forward action” to address the damages to the Dike Bridge causeway and bulkhead.

At Monday’s select board meeting, Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said since that discussion, the town’s been unable to come to terms with the Trustees on how to move forward with a long-term solution.

In a letter sent to the town’s conservation commission — which will be soon be reviewing a request by TTOR to sell vehicle permits on Wasque — the Edgartown Select Board asks that if the Trustees beach plan’s notice of intent is approved, that a condition be included mandating “the allocation of a reasonable percentage of sticker sale revenue” be designated for future repairs to the Dike Bridge Causeway. 

Despite a number of meetings regarding the need to address the bridge’s deterioration, “there has yet to be a substantial proposal submitted by TTOR to address and remedy the situation,” Edgartown Select Board members said in Monday’s letter. 

“TTOR’s refusal to acknowledge ownership of the causeway, especially when considering the cumulative annual sticker sales and the direct depreciation resulting from their promoted activities, is not only disconcerting, but also lacks a sound legal, historical, or common-sense basis for discussion,” the letter states.

Deeming it “regrettable that matters have reached this juncture,” the select board highlighted the need to alleviate the financial burden the town’s emergency work on the bridge has had on local taxpayers. 

In a statement to The Times this week, Trustees representatives reiterated their stance that the organization does not have ownership over the eastern portion of Dike Bridge.

They say they are the majority owner of East Beach, but “do not own the bulkhead itself, or the land on which it is built.”

According to TTOR, the portion of the bridge and bulkhead not owned by the town is the responsibility of shareholders of the Pocha Pond Meadow and Fishing Co., creators of a herring fishery that was dissolved more than 60 years ago. 

But, TTOR says, “as the owner of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and Wasque, and the manager of Leland Beach, the Trustees share an interest with others in ensuring that the bulkhead, like the town-owned bridge, remains a safe and reliable means of accessing these areas for the public, and for the residents who have chosen to live on Cape Poge.”

They add that the Trustees “have pledged to work with the town and the commonwealth to study and monitor the condition of the bulkhead, and to help secure funding for its maintenance, reconstruction, or replacement when needed.”

The conservation commission is set to reconvene its public hearing on the Trustees’ notice of intent for Wasque, Leland, and Cape Poge on Wednesday. 


Updated with comments from the Trustees of Reservations.


  1. A reasonable percentage of ticket sales is 100%. All TTOR Revenue should stay on island to remediate and maintain the pristine properties they were given as trustees to conserve for generations to come.

  2. The TTOR do not want people on the beaches they just want the revenue. I am sure they are looking for a way to keep the revenue and not allow people and letting the bridge fall apart may help them reach that goal.

    • The TTOR are good with people on the beaches, OSVs not so much.
      The only reason for the bridge is OSVs, and the occasional Oldsmobile. .
      The revenue that TTOR gets from Chappy is minuscule, bridges are expensive.
      Chappy needs no bridges, it’s not an island, at least today.

  3. TTOR should also be responsible for reimbursing the town for the emergency repairs that were needed due to their negligence, and fined for the liability they left the town exposed to. The trustees’ actions continue to show they are not capable of the stewardship these properties require, they want control (and the revenue that comes with it) with no responsibility for the land or needs of those of us who live here.

    • Should all of the the Island’s TTOR properties be taken over by the Towns?
      What percentage of the TTOR’s revenue comes from Chappy? Expenses?

  4. This is unfortunately very typical island behavior. Demonize a person or organization. Criticize them relentlessly. Then, when you need a favor, get upset when they don’t immediately help you out. TTOR may be wrong. They may be right. However, nobody should be surprised if they make things difficult on the town.

  5. That bridge was built in 1995 at a cost
    of $182,256 . And now, 28 years later,
    it is going to cost 22 times the cost
    to take the old one out and build a completely
    new bridge to “repair it “?
    $4 million to repair a $150 k bridge ?
    Are they kidding?
    Close it to vehicles , leave it as a pedestrian
    bridge. Spend the $4 million on housing
    the homeless.

    • What something cost 28 years ago is meaningless.
      “$4 million”, can you do it for less?

      Chappy does not need a bridge, Chappy does not need OSVs,
      I am going to guess that $30k should make the existing structure good enough for foot traffic, for the next 28 years.

      You don’t get much housing for four million.

      • Take the existing bridge out –100 k
        put a stone pad on both sides of 75 ft
        opening —- 100 k
        3 100 ft steel beams — 300k
        ten 10×10 precast concrete slabs– 100k
        200 ft of railing — 100 k
        “ramps” on both sides—200 k
        site cleanup — 25 k
        add it all up—$1 million
        Double it just for fun— 2 million
        Where does 4 million to repair a bridge
        come from ?

  6. Good idea. The taxpayers definitely shouldn’t pay one red cent. TTOR and the homeowners out there should cover the entire cost. The entire area isn’t really open to the public in any meaningful way so why should our tax dollars be spent on it?

  7. Stewards of the causeway, look at the causeway now. Stewards of the Cape Poge lighthouse – look at the lighthouse now. Stewards of the land…look at the land now. Remember the Farm Institute? Remember Norton Point? All we keep hearing is they have no money, yet a look at the 990s tells a very different story.

    The Trustees appear to have plenty of money for the projects and holdings they prioritize. MVY holdings are not a priority for the Trustees. According to their 990 Net income in 2021 was $38,147,100. 38 MILLION!!! Yet they can’t seem to rub two nickels together when it comes to stewarding MVY. Glass Door reviews for the organization as recently as May 2023 also reveal that they are a “sinking ship” and that “This misguided organization somehow finds a way to make the wrong decisions every chance they have. The toxicity in the main office is palpable and the ‘culture overhaul’ project is an absolute joke. 5 CEOs in 4 years should tell you all you need to know.” TTOR is no longer credible. Does anyone who has had to deal with them in the last five years trust The Trustees?

  8. The TTOR does not want too many people/OSVs on the beaches.
    They want to keep the revenue to conserve more and more land, those [expletive(s)]

  9. The bridge is an essential part of the overall island, tourism and recreational business. We have countless number of our visitors love being able to drive on the beach and recreate in a reasonable way. We need to be careful about killing the golden goose as we keep diminishing Opportunities for our visitors. The year-round population that work here depend on the tourism dollar the day tripper, weekly renter, or seasonal homeowner. They are all one and the same. Without these people the year-round population would be financially harmed. The TTOR is a take organization with very little give.

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