, Newburyport, MA


December 6, 2012

Plum Island is an octopus's garden to be


The “do-over” pushed the Tuesday meeting past midnight, and many with work and family schedules left before the vote.

Five months later, the selectmen approved “betterments.” For some reason, the opposition didn’t show at a meeting that went ahead as scheduled on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001.

Proponents got lucky again in 2003 when a woman with a corporate fortune and visions of “Miami Beach North” arrived and bought every property she could talk into sale.

Gentrification? The “blue-collar resort,” Walton’s Ocean Front, soon turned “blue,” upper crust apparently preferring lower case.

No sooner was Plum Island’s “Big Dig” water project complete in 2008 than a November nor’easter shook one cottage from its foundations, and the town hurried to remove it before the next high tide.

One year later, the Newbury Conservation Commission approved the owner’s petition to rebuild on the very site. In January ‘10, the state Department of Environmental Protection put that folly on hold.

Following a brutal storm a month later, public access to the beach at the center was closed. The sign to that effect had to be re-located due to erosion on, of all days, the Ides of March.

In 2010, a December nor’easter put yet another home on the front page with the banner headline: “Teetering on the brink”

Not to worry. According to a letter last month: “Mother Nature, rising sea level or global warming is not causing primary dune erosion.”

The headline, “Lack of jetty maintenance to blame for PI erosion” (Nov. 23), is an unavoidable reference to the Army Corps of Engineers’ dime and time — contradicting repeated claims that advocates of “beach scraping” expect no taxpayer expense.

Also revealing: “(A) skeptical theory of a negative environmental impact” exists only to justify “the salaries and further research for these government agencies,” which “thrive on the publicity of a home dropping into the ocean because it bolsters their theory.”

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