By Angeljean Chiaramida
---- — SALISBURY — State officials are promising to purchase enough snow fencing to protect the dunes at Salisbury Beach after portions of the shore were seriously damaged during last month’s blizzard.
Town Manager Neil Harrington said the day after the storm, he met in Boston with state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport; Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport; and Commissioner Ed Lambert of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation concerning a number of issues related to the state-owned Salisbury Beach, including the recent erosion that has caused concern for many.
Last month’s blizzard gouged out huge sections of the sacrificial dunes that protect beach homes along the east side of North End Boulevard in an area that has not previously experienced such grave problems. Although dune grass held much of the top of the dunes in place, storm surges ate away the slope and midsection of some dunes, leaving 12-foot high cliffs that could collapse in their wake. The cliffs pose a potential safety hazard to those walking on or below them, officials have said.
DCR’s pledge to bring in sufficient quantities of snow fencing to nourish the dunes is a major step in trying to repair the damage caused by nature along the shore. Harrington said the installation of the fencing, which catches and holds blowing sand, will help replenish the dunes as time passes.
The town manager plans to call a meeting of the Salisbury Beach Management Plan Committee to further address the issue. He said he hopes to tap the state’s Salisbury Beach Preservation Trust Fund to help pay for efforts to nourish and protect the beach.
The dedicated fund, proposed in 2008 by former state Sen. Steve Baddour, is underwritten by a $2 surcharge paid by those who camp and park at Salisbury Beach State Reservation during the tourist season. When first implemented, the surcharge was estimated to raise about $250,000 a year. Harrington said the trust fund should have a considerable amount of money in it by now.
At his meeting with state officials, Harrington also addressed the state’s plans to raze and re-use the site of the former Sidewalk Cafe at 24 Ocean Front South, which it now owns. In mid-December, DCR finally came to an agreement with the property’s former owner Mark Finneral and purchased the building for $475,000.
DCR spokeswoman SJ Port said at the time of the purchase that the state intended to take the building down and return the lot to open space as part of Salisbury Beach State Reservation. Port said although the best-laid plans can go awry, if all goes according to plan, demolition should take place in late spring or early summer.
The dilapidated building has been an eyesore for years and the subject of complaints by many beach residents who have had to endure its unsightliness.