Fishermen, fishmongers and Menemsha village mainstays gathered at the Chilmark community center on Monday evening to hear a progress report and give input on plans to repair or replace the town’s aging commercial fishing dock.

Select board member Jim Malkin said planning to upgrade the dock, which was built in 1987, began around seven years ago, when the town first started to look at necessary actions to combat the effects of climate change.

As rising sea level has caused more frequent flooding at the dock, Mr. Malkin said, a working group was created to look at “what do we do with the fact that we have this situation, and it’s going to increase?”

Childs Engineering project manager Andrew Nilson outlined the firm’s findings at Monday's meeting.

Led by harbormaster Ryan Rossi, with participation from Peter Neilley, a Chilmark resident and IBM weather scientist, the working group began to assess the present and future of the dock.

In 2021, the town hired Childs Engineering to evaluate the condition of the dock. Project manager Andrew Nilson outlined the firm’s findings at Monday’s forum, saying that the dock had between five and 15 years of life left.

While the steel bulkhead is mostly in good condition, he said, the timber wharf was showing early signs of breaking down, especially the brackets where wood and metal meet.

“Those brackets are heavily corroded, and that’s the weak link in this entire system,” Mr. Nilson said, adding that those components are not expected to last more than five years.

Many members of the community attended the presentation.

Replacing those piles, he said, would involve extensive work to disconnect the wharf from the bulkhead before completing repairs.

Although no decisions have been made on whether to replace the dock or repair it to extend its lifespan, early estimates to replace the dock come in at between $3 and $4 million, Mr. Neilley said. He added that up to 80 per cent of the costs could potentially be covered by grant funding.

A tentative timeline presented by Mr. Neilley had the town replacing the dock in 2027 or 2028.

In the coming months the working group plans to host a series of additional meetings to get more input from town residents, Mr. Malkin said.

“This is not a fast-tracked project,” Mr. Malkin said. “We are not rushing into this.”