, Newburyport, MA

May 15, 2014

Beach repairs planned for Salisbury's north end


---- — SALISBURY — In hopes of bringing in sand by mid-June to repair eroded dunes, town and state officials will work to gain permission from dozens of homeowners to shore up Salisbury Beach not only on state-owned land but also on their private properties.

According to Town Manager Neil Harrington, he’s been in contact with officials from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns Salisbury Beach, to find a way to ensure new sand can be deposited along the north end of the beach between access points six and seven. This area was hard-hit during fierce winter storms of February and March 2013, but did not get properly repaired when DCR nourished the beach the first time around.

Thanks to state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, and state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, $300,000 was earmarked in this year’s state budget so DCR could purchase more sand to finish the job, Harrington said. In addition, DCR will add $100,000 from the Salisbury Beach Preservation Trust Fund to supplement the sum. The resulting $400,000 will purchase 10,000 cubic years of sand, Harrington said.

According to Harrington, state officials looked at different methods concerning how to place the additional sand in a manner that would have the best and longest lasting effect. One option is to place the sand on land that is solely owned by the state, and the other to place it along the dune on both state-owned and privately-owned land. The latter option worked out to be the better choice, Harrington said.

“Because the optimal plan involves placing sand on both public and private property, we will be looking for residents to sign documents allowing the sate to access their property to build and maintain the new dunes that they hope to create,” Harrington said. “Our goal is to get all the legal issues resolved in short order, so that DCR can expend the $400,000 they have committed for the project before the summer beach season begins.”

The town’s target date to replenish the beach is mid-June, he said, so things need to move along quickly if sand is to be brought in next month.

With 34 property owners involved, Harrington said, Salisbury Conservation Agent Michelle Rowden will be working with the neighborhood association to move the approval project forward in the most expeditious manner possible.

Harrington said as soon as the May 19 Town Meeting is completed, he hopes to sit down with the beach homeowners involved to alert them to all the related issues and solicit their cooperation.

A series of storms scoured out portions of the beach in early 2013, devastating the sacrificial dune system in many places. Last spring, DCR replenished stricken areas of the beach with 15,000 cubic yards of sand harvested from the nearby sand bar that had increased in size due to sand eroded from the beach. But the 15,000 cubic yards of sand wasn’t enough to restore all of the dunes in front of vulnerable homes between beach access ways 6 and 7.