, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 19, 2013

Walls built to fight sea


But the possibility of homeowner action was always in the air.

Tracy Blais, Newbury town administrator, could not be reached for comment yesterday, nor could Joe Story, chairman of the Board of Selectmen here.

“The homeowners are paying for this, not the town,” said Doug Packer, Newbury’s conservation agent. He indicated the town is not supervising the construction of the walls and barriers.

One property owner yesterday said she was relieved that the homeowners are finally taking action.

“We are thankful to be able to do this, but it’s too late for those who have lost their homes,” said a homeowner who declined to give her name. “There has been red tape and roadblocks, and we are taking advantage of the moment now.”

In recent weeks, six oceanfront residences on Annapolis Way and Fordham Way have been demolished and carted away after being condemned. That is a cost borne by the owners.

About two dozen structures are still listed as vulnerable.

Now it appears that no expense is being spared by homeowners who are trying to save what they have.

One construction worker yesterday said more than $100,000 has been spent in bringing in loose boulders and sand to fortify the dunes in front of seven houses on the southernmost end of Fordham Way.

The rock is coming from Seabrook, and the sand is being imported from northern Maine, said the worker, who declined to give his name.

At blue, an oceanside hotel on Fordham Way, massive chunks of cut stone were being placed on top of the other as a means for holding back the Atlantic. Individual sections of stone are about 6 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.

There are currently no guests at the hotel, neighbors said.

At a recent meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, numerous homeowners expressed frustration that state officials were not giving them latitude to scrape the beach and erect hard structures as a means to halt the erosion that threatens their homes.

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