Town Council Approves $490,000 Maintenance Dredging of Barnstable Harbor

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Barnstable Harbor

Barnstable Harbor

BARNSTABLE – With severe storms in recent years, Barnstable Harbor has experienced such extensive shoaling that officials believe one more similar winter will result in the channel being blocked to large vessels entirely.

The Barnstable Town Council last week approved $490,000 for phase one of a project to dredge the outer channel of the harbor. That project would begin this fall using the county dredge, and the 8,000 cubic yards of sand dredged would be deposited on Sandy Neck.

Phase two, according to Barnstable Department of Public Works Director Daniel Santos, would take place next fall. That phase, to dredge the inner harbor, still needs permitting and would require a different dredging technique and different disposal, he said.

The harbor is used by whale watch boats and commercial fishing vessels, as well as recreational boats.

“This is a 60-foot wide channel that is reduced down to, maybe, 20 feet. It is much narrowed,” Santos told the town council at Thursday’s meeting.

The appropriation request to the council states that the channel could become blocked at any time, particularly with a winter similar to last winter.

“It’s been reported by the harbormaster that some vessels have actually been bumping on the bottom in the last year,” Santos said.

Town Councilor Frederick Chirigotis questioned the large amount of money the town has put into Barnstable Harbor in recent years. He said the town has spent $5.8 million since 2005 on a harbor that has brought in $1.8 million during the same period, for a loss of $4 million.

“We’re expending a lot of resources,” he said.

Chirigotis also expressed concern about dredged sand being placed on Sandy Neck where it can be blown and washed back in to block the harbor.

But when it came time to vote, councilors approved the expense unanimously.

The project is being paid for by bonding and will be combined with other bonding authorizations for the year as part of the town’s 2016 Capital Improvement Program, Santos said.



  1. Councilor Chirigotis erred if he said we have spent $5.8 million in Barnstable Harbor this year. We have in recent years spent $3.5 million dollars on a new bulkhead and an inner harbor dredge. Those funds were obtained several years ago from a state bond (not ocal funds) through the efforts of private citizens and this councilor with absolutely no help or support from Councilor Chirigotis or others. The need for those funds were due to the negligence of the Town in allowing the bulkhead to collapse in the first place despite ample warning of its impending failure. Additionally we have spent some funds this year to replace the pilings damaged by the severe winter.

    This Harbor is one of Barnstable’s jewels. When we applied for the above referenced grants, we showed that the Harbor was a major economic engine to the Town of Barnstable – and certainly brings in more than the $1 million in revenue as alleged.

    I don’t believe that Councilor Chirigotis said that maintenance dredging is expected to be $400,000 a year for 10 years in Barnstable Harbor. If he did, that is not a factual statement. The last dredge was 7 years ago. We are in the midst of a town wide comprehensive dredging plan and permitting study. Once completed, all of the town’s embayments will be scheduled for regular rotating routine maintenance dredging which in the long run will be predicable and fiscally responsible.

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