, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 5, 2013

Saving Plum island homes


In recent days, a dozen homeowners have contracted with a Lexington company to install sand envelopes, also known as sand tubes or sandbags, in front of the dunes on Annapolis Way. The sandbags are about 30 feet long and provide some protection from the waves, but will not save them from a strong storm.

That sandbagging work is under way, but residents yesterday pressed for a more permanent solution.

“Town officials and emergency workers did a great job,” said Steve Batchelder, who owns a residence at 35 Annapolis Way. “But we need a longer-range solution.”

One new plan is that of Tarr and others, which would call for the aggregation of rocks or rock walls on the beach.

“I’ve called the governor’s office and Bruce is also working very hard on this,” said Joe Story, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “We are looking into ways to introduce hard material.”

Last week’s storm exposed tons of rock and concrete that was dumped on the beach near Annapolis Way in the 1970s, at a time when that neighborhood was undergoing an erosion crisis similar to today. One complete wall has been exposed, but most of the rest is a jumble of rocks and concrete that now lie on the beach or are partly buried in the remaining dune.

Newbury town officials said they think beach-scraping is a short-term solution. When it was noted that sand is aggregating near the south jetty, in Newburyport, several panel members suggested that Newbury town workers travel north along the beach and bring back some excess sand for their beaches.

However, Andy Port, planning director for the city of Newburyport, attempted to sandbag that proposal.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for one town to enter another, and move sand down the beach,” said Port. He stated that the beach is always changing, and a beach with excess one week might evolve into a sector with no sand the next week.

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