NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 15, 2012

Our banner yet waves

Seeing what Sandy and last week’s nor’easter did to Plum Island, I might start one of those betting pools picking dates for houses to fall into the Atlantic.

With late fall here, winter soon to hit and spring thaw from the White Mountains to follow, nearly 200 can play.

Eleven houses south of Bennett Hill are fully exposed by a re-flattened beach. Storms and full moons are all a high tide needs to reach the modest cliff of sand they now sit upon.

But this is Plum Island and what would pending doom be without unwitting comic relief? Two of those homes now sport “For Sale” signs.

And pay no attention to the yellow tape below.

The unwitting tragedy is Bennett Hill. On the island’s highest point, this modest two-story, yellow-with-brown-trim cottage has always been PI’s icon.

At the end of the only road from the mainland, it is the first striking image, the house everyone wants, the picture on most PI postcards, the focal point of every panoramic painting of PI’s shore.

For as long as all other cottages were just one step up from the beach, Bennett Hill needed an improvised ladder. When erosion began making claims, BH added a staircase to get to the ladder.

When recent storms claimed a house just north of it and shook the foundations of others — two of which are for sale, mind you — Bennett Hill added yet another flight.

Not sure if all that wood was washed away or removed before Sandy came knocking, but the illusion of added height plus the fact of decreased width makes Bennett Hill look like a Realtor’s version of “How many angels dance on the head of a pin?”

Fearing further erosion, BH apparently has no intention of restoring its own direct access to the beach. Instead, a wooden board is now nailed across the opening to the porch.

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