Chilmark will hold a special town meeting on Monday, Sept. 26, asking voters to appropriate $44,000 in town funding for phase 2 of the Menemsha commercial dock replacement. If passed, the action will unlock a $176,000 grant for the project and allow the project to get underway in October.

A phase one needs assessment completed in the spring recommended a full replacement of the dock and bulkhead, which is estimated to have a 10-year lifespan if no action is taken. Phase one was funded by a Seaport Economic Council grant and completed by Childs Engineering of Bellingham.

A July SEC grant of $176,000 to fund phase two of the project, designing a replacement that lifts the frequently flooded wharf above rising sea levels, requires the town to put up 20 per cent or $44,000 to complete the funding.

Town administrator Tim Carroll said that because the 2022 fiscal year is not yet closed, the town would not be able to appropriate the $44,000 from the year’s free cash (the unrestricted funds that remain at the end of a year’s budget) while staying on track to start construction in October. The alternative was to approve the funding at the special town meeting, which was set by the Chilmark select board on Sept. 6.

The special town meeting vote seeks approval on taking the funding from two town accounts: $40,000 from the waterways improvement account and the remaining $4,000 from leftover funds budgeted to train the new harbormaster back in 2018.

Harbormaster Ryan Rossi expressed tentative approval.

“The only issue that I want to raise with that is that the $40,000 we generate in the waterways fund annually usually gets used for supplemental costs for piling replacement, dock maintenance and dredging,” he said, and predicted that he might have to submit his own warrant to fund dock work. “The $30,000 that we have in the harbor budget…with cost inflation and everything is kind of unrealistic for dock work that’s needed on an annual basis.”

Board chair Jim Malkin suggested that harbor budget line item might be increased for next year, and Mr. Rossi agreed, referring to his previous recommendation that harbor mooring fees be increased to cover the cost.

The warrant for a special meeting passed unanimously; the meeting is set to take place on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Chilmark Community Center.

In other Sept. 6 business, the board agreed to allow the Chilmark Community Center to once again be booked by town residents. It also considered issues regarding the building’s future.

“There’s a lot of maintenance items that really need to be addressed for next season,” said board member Bill Rossi, who outlined some of the building’s issues, including rusty water coming out of the new water fountain, the need to upgrade lighting and the possibility of installing A.C.

The board also gave approval for the Chilmark school to use the facility three days out of the week, and confirmed that the preschool would not require the building for teaching.

They determined a need to re-form the Chilmark Community Center advisory committee, which will involve both the select board and organizers from the community center’s summer program, along with other input from town officials and citizens.