, Newburyport, MA

May 4, 2013

State begins process of rebuilding battered beach

Angeljean Chiaramida

---- — SALISBURY — The process of mining sand from the north jetty sandbar to replenish Salisbury’s eroded beach has begun, with hopes the entire process will be completed before tourists arrive for the Memorial Day holiday.

According to Salisbury Conservation Agent Michele Rowden, heavy machinery arrived on Wednesday, and work began on Thursday to remove excess sand from the sand bar that’s above the waterline, and deposit it in approved areas of the dunes that had been ravaged by winter storms. The work is being done by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns Salisbury Beach.

Rowden expects that if the weather and tides hold, the restoration of some access ways and dunes might be completed by the end of next week. Snow fencing is to be installed to keep the sand from blowing away, she said, and her goal is that everything will be completed before Memorial Day.

Town Manager Neil Harrington said it’s critical the beach center be restored and open to the public as soon as possible. But, he added that the town continues to push DCR to mine as much sand as necessary to replace sand that was lost by residents on the north end of the beach and whose properties were devastated by the storms that hit in February and March.

After significant lobbying on the part of town residents and officials, along with the town’s state legislative delegation, DCR agreed to make repairs to the beach which lost all of its protective dune system along the beach center and in other sections abutting homes between access points 6 and 8.

DCR agreed to harvest about 15,000 cubic yard of sand from a large erosion-formed sandbar at the north jetty to make repairs to the dunes. However that isn’t much sand, and DCR and the town were at odds as to where it should go to repair the most seriously eroded areas.

In approving DCR’s emergency certificate to do the work, Salisbury’s Conservation Commission altered DCR’s list of priorities concerning where the sand should go. Rowden said yesterday that she will be monitoring the work to ensure it is completed as the commission approved.

Although grateful for the initial work, Salisbury’s state legislators Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, and Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, have said more work is required. The legislators want more sand, more work and more money spent to shore up dunes in front of private homes where some of the worst erosion took place.

Costello placed $300,000 in the House version of next year’s state budget to augment the re-nourishment of Salisbury Beach State Reservation. The hope is that money will remain when the final budget arrives on the governor’s desk.