Sandwich Selectmen Receive Beach Projects Update

Town Neck Beach

SANDWICH – Heading into winter storm season, selectmen in storm-battered Sandwich received an update from consultants on the progress of major beach projects.

Woods Hole Group officials discussed the permitting template for the master plan to place 400,000 cubic yards of material to replenish Town Neck including the plan to set up a borrow site from Scusset Beach.

Officials say the town is still waiting for a final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge about 220,000 cubic yards from Scusset Beach to Town Neck.

After the material is dredged it is expected to refill in about 7 years to be dredged again.

“We are really trying to permit the first offshore/nearshore borrow site in Massachusetts,” said Town Manager Bud Dunham, “It’s really quite a hurdle.

The project received all state permits needed to do the work in August.

The consultants said a decision on the federal permits should be made in the next few months.

The Woods Hole Group also expects a draft of the Army Corps 111 study sometime this spring. The study focuses on the effects that construction of the Cape Cod Canal and east end jetty have had on Sandwich Beaches.

Consultants also discussed the evaluation of dredging Old Harbor and provided assessments on climate change and coastal vulnerability.

“I think what is scary is we have been told by state and federal regulators and by our consultant that literally no town in Massachusetts has done more in terms of trying to address some of these issues and solve some long-time problems,” Dunham said. “But the sobering part is the permitting is very technical.”

Dunham said it is much harder to permit these types of projects in this part of the country compared to similar work in the Southeast.

“We’ve never been this far along and we are continuing to push it but by the same token I think selectmen, rightfully, feel that we have never been this vulnerable either,” Dunham said. “If we get storms like we did last March, it is sobering to think if those dunes go away.”

A $3 million project was completed in 2016 to renourish Town Neck Beach will more than 100,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the Cape Cod Canal.

Dunham said severe storms over the last few years has taken about 95 percent of that material away.

The town is also in the process of evaluating project bids to move 5,000 cubic yards of dredged material from Pocasset onto Town Neck.

The bids for the project range from $42,000 up to $136,000.

“Right now we are doing the due diligence on the low bidder who is a very well qualified local contractor,” Dunham said. “We are sure there will not be a problem.”

The goal is sign a contract over the next few days and have the work completed by January 1, weather permitting.

“In the scheme of our needs of our bigger beach plan, which is about 400,000 cubic yards, it is a very, very small percentage but it still can make a difference so we are going to try and do that,” Dunham said.

The sand would be placed in some of the gaps that developed after the March winter storms.

“We are able to shape it within the contours that we already have permits for,” he said. “That should work well in a couple of areas.”

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