The East Chop Association is petitioning the town of Oak Bluffs to reconsider taking ownership of the East Chop bluff, where severe erosion is threatening the stability of the bluff.

The town learned recently that it was preliminarily denied Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for repairs to the bluff in part because the majority of the land on the sea side of the road belongs to the East Chop Association. The road is owned by the town.

The town scored low on eligibility for funding in part due to ownership patterns, town administrator Bob Whritenour said. 

Three years ago the town attorney advised not to assume ownership, citing risks associated with liability. 

But that was before Hurricane Sandy and winter storm Nemo, which accelerated erosion and slumping on the bluff which underlies the scenic East Chop Drive.

Last week selectmen said they’d like to revisit the issue of taking full or partial ownership of the bluff. 

“We found out what risks were associated with not owning the bluff; it probably cost us more than $4 million in FEMA money at this point in time,” said chairman Walter Vail.

And with more winter storms on the way, Mr. Whritenour agreed.

“What we don’t want to have happen, is, we don’t want to have another storm come, do more damage, and to not be eligible,” he said.