NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 15, 2013

Building back the beach

Salisbury works to repair storm damage, replenish shore

SALISBURY BEACH — As crews worked yesterday to either remove or replace pilings along the beach off Broadway, local and state officials are hoping more help is on the way to restore Salisbury’s storm-ravaged shores.

Last Friday’s storm tides gouged out tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand from the beach, leaving dunes devastated, waterfront homes vulnerable and the shore itself unsafe.

With damage more severe than anyone can remember, local officials and legislators appealed to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the beach, as well as to the Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates what can be done along state wetlands.

The hope is that DCR will take whatever steps necessary to restore the beach and its dune system. That includes moving hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand back onto the beach that shifted during the storm to form a sandbar by Salisbury’s north jetty at the mouth of the Merrimack River. Homeowners are also hoping DEP agrees to allow them to shore up the dunes in front of their homes.

On Tuesday, a conference call earlier brought together town officials, state legislators as well as DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert and DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. According to Town Manager Neil Harrington, the town asked DEP to relax its regulations and allow homeowners to push back sand that had blown onto their properties during the storm.

Harrington said two things are required before the sandbar can be mined, with the sand restored to the beach and dune systems — a permit from DEP and money to undertake the project. The latter could be harder to find than the permit, since the project will be costly, he said.

“I think we made a good case,” said Harrington, who expects to have an answer from DEP soon.

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