Edgartown plans to keep over-sand vehicle permit pricing the same as the town begins the planning process for its takeover of Norton Point Beach management.

After The Trustees of Reservations opted not to renew their contract to manage the beach earlier this month, the town of Edgartown has submitted a formal bid to take over the two-mile strip of shoreline connecting Edgartown and Chappaquiddick.

The beach is owned by Dukes County and had been managed by the Trustees for 15 years before the conservation non-profit decided not to renew its lease earlier in December.

Ahead of their next meeting with the county commission on Jan. 4, the Edgartown parks department has started to hash out what town management would actually look like.

“We’re hoping to have a plan in place by Jan. 21,” parks commission member Richard Kelly said in a department meeting on Dec. 22.

To oversee Norton Point, the parks department plans to hire a year-round, full-time beach director, whose job description is being finalized and will be posted in the coming weeks. Mr. Kelly reported that he has already received considerable interest in the position. Additionally, the parks department currently has the means to fund six seasonal beach monitors for Norton Point, although the town is still evaluating its hiring needs for the area.

Mr. Kelly also confirmed that Edgartown will continue the over-sand vehicle program at the same rates as previous years under Trustees management, with yearly passes selling at $90 for Island residents and $140 for non-residents. Last year, the sale of over-sand vehicle permits on the beach brought the Trustees $286,000 in revenue.

“We’ll keep it even for now and figure it out from there,” Mr. Kelly said.

The question of over-sand vehicle access has become a flash point for conservationists and recreational beachgoers, each with a different idea of how best to contend with the shoreline’s fragile ecosystem, which plays host to seasonal nesting shorebirds and is popular as a swimming and fishing destination.

Dukes County’s contract with the Trustees expires at the end of March 2023. Depending on how the town decides to allocate funds, all budget proposals for the Norton Point management plan would need to be approved at the Edgartown annual town meeting on April 11 and would only go into effect on July 1, at the start of the next fiscal year.

The time crunch, and the advent of piping plover nesting season this spring, will require the town to get creative with its budgeting to cover the three-month gap, town officials said at the meeting.

“The idea is to have this program fund itself,” town administrator James Hagerty said. “The seasonal people, the rangers, are only out of the sticker sales.”

Mr. Kelly said that the parks department may have the budget to cover certain salaries until June 30.

“What about bird money?” town accountant Amy Tierney asked, referring to funds to pay the estimated $50,000 to $70,000 needed to manage the property during piping plover nesting season.

“That we don’t have,” Mr. Kelly replied.

Mr. Hagerty said that the role of bird management will be bid out once the conservation commission assembles a scope of work. The town plans to continue the Trustees’ practice of limiting over-sand vehicle access during nesting season, although the town’s beach management plan is still being finalized.

To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Kelly said that the parks department has been in communication with the Trustees. The town will continue planning discussions at the next parks department meeting on Jan. 5.

The county has not officially signed a lease with Edgartown, although no other entities have submitted proposals to take over management of the beach.

“I don’t want to say it, but we’re in better shape than we think,” Mr. Kelly said. “It’s gonna be a fun year on the beach.”