Sandwich to Wait for Possible Town Neck Renourishment Options

Town Neck Beach in Sandwich.

SANDWICH – Town officials in Sandwich say it could be a while before Town Neck Beach receives more sand.

Officials received an update last week during a meeting with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and several state agencies on the process of getting permits and a timetable for the completion of a study looking at the effects the Cape Cod Canal and its east end jetty are having on the beach.

Town Manager Bud Dunham said it could be about 18 months before the Army Corps Section 1-11 study is completed.

“Hopefully, by the end of the summer of 2019 they have all the feedback and the internal review completed so they could actually have a final document that could be given to the powers that be in Washington,” Dunham said.

The study, which typically takes two years, started early in 2017 and a draft is not expected to be completed until the end of 2018. Then there is a required six month internal review period.

Dunham said the projects the town is trying to permit push the envelope and are hard to get done.

“There are entire branches of state and federal government that have certain responsibilities and you have to try to get all of those different branches to sort of be on the same page and to get support for it,” Dunham said.

The Army Corps also explained realistic options are being considered for the future and feedback was provided by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

“It was also to try to narrow down what they have to look at to speed things up,” Dunham said.

The study will be using a lot of the work already done by the Town of Sandwich and the coastal engineering firm Woods Hole Group over the last 15 to 20 years.

“They’re even thinking about hiring Woods Hole Group to do some of the technical analysis and scientific work they have to do because either we have done that already or they already have data that can be added upon,” he said.

Dunham said there are three viable solutions that will be considered after the study is completed.

One proposal would remove roughly 250,000 cubic yards of material from the Scusset State Beach Reservation sand basin on the north side of the Cape Cod Canal to be placed on Town Neck.

Dunham said the town is still about 6 to 12 months away from getting state and federal permits for the project.

“If you hear the comments again from the federal and state regulators and certain branches of those parties it is really difficult to get, but we are trying to be the first in the state to permit an near shore barrow site,” he said.

The town’s Conservation Commission recently granted approval for the project.

A second option would be to receive material from any dredging of the Cape Cod Canal.

“I think the last three or four times the canal has been dredged we have only been able to accomplish that once by having it come to us and we had to pay 100 percent for those expenses,” Dunham said.

A $3 million nourishment project which added over 100,000 cubic yards of material on Town Neck dredged from the Cape Cod Canal channel was completed in 2016.

Officials still believe the beach needs over 400,000 cubic yards of sand to make up for materials lost to erosion.

The third choice, which the town began exploring this year, is to explore the Old Harbor embayment and Great Marsh system.

“So much sand has been blown in and pushed in that the health of the estuary isn’t that strong,” he said. “So we are trying to see if there are maybe smaller steps we could take to free things up and make the marsh system better.”

The town have identified about 60,000 to 65,000 cubic yards of material that could be captured by the county dredge.

“Of all the things I’ve talked about – where this is brand new – this is probably the most difficulty thing to permit,” Dunham said.

In the meantime, Dunham said he is concerned about future strong storms causing more damage before anything can be done.

“The first thing we can do is pray,” he said.


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