, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 27, 2013

Islanders plead to rebuild dunes


Marc Sarkady, a spokesman for the Plum Island Foundation, implored members of the DEP to permit residents to “mine” sand at low tide and relocate it near seaside homes as a means of building back protective dunes.

Cheryl Jones-Comeau, a resident of 40 Fordham Way, was enlisted to show photos of the improvement she said that mining had produced after the Blizzard of ’78.

Jones-Comeau said the process worked for more than three decades until the DEP put an end to the practice in 1999. After that point, islanders saw a gradual decay of the dunes, which climaxed in the loss of six homes during the fierce nor’easter earlier this month.

“You dig a lot of sand at low tide, enough to bury a battleship,” she told the two dozen local and state officials who had gathered, “and within two or three tides, the areas are re-filled.

“Please give us permission to do this; we’ll unite and we’ll pay for it.”

Sarkady, noting that he was missing a Passover observance at home, reached back into biblical lore to add lightly, “Let our people go; let us do this.”

The DEP has extended permits for beach “scraping” but generally only approves one at a time. Kimmell said his team would study Sarkady’s proposal and get back to residents soon.

If “mining” was the residents’ suggestion, Newbury’s building inspector, Sam Joslin, said that one of the town’s solutions is for homeowners to raise structures on stanchions to evade high water in the future.

Joslin stated that about 30 houses had been under duress when the final of four winter storms surged onto the beach.

Six houses are gone. Six more are in the process of being elevated. About seven more “will be fairly easy to elevate or move to another part of the property.”

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