, Newburyport, MA

February 16, 2013

Effort pushed to fix north jetty


---- — NEWBURY - Town, city and state officials yesterday vowed to push forward in efforts to seek federal money for a study of the north jetty on Salisbury Beach and for more funds to add to the work on the south jetty on Plum Island.

Their initiative might fly in the face of the annual nesting of plovers but local leaders say that this is the time to get as much work done as possible at the mouth of the Merrimack River .

“We would be remiss if we don’t push forward,” said state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who co-chairs the Merrimack River Beach Alliance that met yesterday. “It will cost less to do the work while the contractor is out there, rather than start again later.”

Fred Lucie, a representative of state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, said, “If the equipment has to be brought all the way back off the jetty, and returned later on, that will be very costly.”

Tarr and others acknowledged that the finish date of the $3.6 million refurbishment of the south jetty is March 31

This date was chosen because April 1 marks the day that wildlife officials have earmarked for a cessation of construction activity so the shore birds can arrive, nest and procreate.

“We are up against an environmental window,” Tarr said.

A spokesman for the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island said that 29 pairs of plovers nested on Plum Island last year. The island’s beach stretches about 9 miles.

Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told MRBA members that about 600 feet of the south jetty has been heightened and reinforced.

Several officials said “the worst is over,” referring to the fact that stone work under the mean high-tide mark has been completed, and work in the immediate future involving “capping” remains to be done in many sectors.

They hope to have repaired about “700 to 800” feet by March 31.

The south jetty runs 1,200 feet into the ocean, and MRBA leaders say they will write letters to federal representatives, including U.S. Rep. John Tierney, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, asking their support in the organization’s quest for more funds.

They will urge officials of Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury to also write letters in support of more funding.

Officials say it might cost $3 to $4 million more to reach the end of the south jetty.

Regarding the north jetty, which is not being repaired at this time, the MRBA will seek $100,000 to develop a study of how to improve this structure, which is about 2,200 feet in length.

“We need a plan in place should there be money available,” said Jerry Klima, a selectman in Salisbury. “If we don’t have our paperwork ready, there is no chance to receive funding if it is available.”

Officials in both Newbury and Salisbury expressed concern that shattered pilings and devastated snow fences on the beach could present a danger this summer when visitors arrive at the beach.

No action was taken to address such a condition.