CHATHAM – For the second year in a row, the town has been awarded a Massachusetts Dredging Program grant.
The $100,000 grant will be used to dredge an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Aunt Lydia's Cove mooring basin and the area around the municipal fish pier. The area was last dredged in April 2017, according to Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon, and since then has shoaled due to storms and the shifting sands of Chatham Harbor.
“We're ideally going to try to clean that out again and open up the mooring basin,” he said.
Aunt Lydia's Cove is home to the town's commercial fishing fleet, the largest on the Cape and third largest in the state, which landed more than $18.6 million in finfish in 2017, according to a press release from the governor's office. About 60 boats moor in the basin, and the dredging will ensure access at all tides for the fleet, as well as the two Coast Guard rescue boats and numerous charter boat, seal watching and other businesses that operate out of the fish pier.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the grant Tuesday in Hingham. A total of $3.6 million was awarded for dredging projects in Beverly, Dennis, Chatham and Hingham. This was the first-ever grant round in the Massachusetts Dredging Program, which is part of an effort to boost the state's 78 coastal communities, according to the governor's office.
A pilot dredging grant program last year awarded Chatham $350,000 to dredge the Stage Harbor entrance channel. That work was not done due to problems with the Barnstable County dredge, but Keon said the town intends to get that work done this fall or winter.
Neither the Aunt Lydia's Cove or Stage Harbor projects are on the county dredge schedule yet, he said, but he anticipates both projects being completed by next year's boating season.
The town will match the state dredging grant in order to finance the Aunt Lydia's Cove project, Keon said. The work may also include digging out sand along the bulkhead with an excavator if that is needed, he added.
By funding dredging projects, the state is recognizing the importance of maintaining commercial maritime ports, said Town Manager Jill Goldsmith.
“The $100,000 will help leverage town funds to provide improved moorage and access to Chatham's municipal fish pier for our commercial fishing fleet,” she said.
“We are excited to establish this important new economic tool, which will have a direct impact on Massachusetts coastal communities,” Polito said in a statement. “As chair of the Seaport Economic Council, I have seen the tremendous effect dedicated dredging and coastal assistance funds can have on our maritime economy, and we are committed to doing more through this new funding source.”
Chatham has benefited from several Seaport Council grants, including $1 million for upgrading of Old Mill Boatyard, as well as engineering and planning funds for renovations to the town-owned Eldredge trap dock.
The Aunt Lydia's Cove dredging project is separate from a plan to dredge near the harbor's North Inlet, said Keon. That project is on hold pending the outcome of a Minister's Point resident's challenge of a conservation commission permit for the work.