Friday, June 12, 2009

Da beach

This morning I went to the meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance.

Boy did I f&*% up with my story in last week's Current. Oh, well, everybody had it wrong ... I'm still in agony, however.

So what the story is, in brief:

In order to get the sand dredged from the river onto the Newbury beach (and yes, Newburyport is not in this picture) there have to be a pipe or pipes running along the shore to move the sand along to the Newbury town beach and PI center.

In order to facilitate this, 26 beachfront property owners have to sign easements to allow the pipe and the work that will be done to build up the central dune and to widen the berm related to the dune (otherwise known as the beach).

Why is Newburyport being left out? Because the area is too small for an Army Corps of Engineers study, said Mayor John Moak, adding that, "We'll take care of that locally."

Well lo and behold if it doesn't turn out that Newburyport doesn't even own that part of the PI beach - the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, or DCR, owns it.

In any case, the area in question (around 55th St., I gather) needs 8-10,000 yards of sand.

And so it's up to Newbury and Salisbury to split the sand from any dredging, since Newbury is reluctant (to say the least) to surrender any of it to Newburyport, and they (not us) also have to come up with the bucks to facilitate all this.

All this is dependent on the money and getting those easements - and I mean, getting them soon, since the Army Corps of Engineers wants to start the replenishment by October.


Bubba said...

Too small an area ? It's at least as large as the area in the 204 study. Did anyone ask who decided to end the 204 study at 27th st and why ?

Gillian Swart said...

No one asked, but I did chat a bit with Mary Reilly (conservation agent) before the meeting started. She said there was an amended order of conditions filed to take Newburyport out.

Both she at that time and Moak later said the study area was too small - but she was the one who said right after that that DCR owns the beach itself.

We were unable to talk further because the meeting started, but I told her I'd be calling her on Monday.

Bubba said...

Yes, it should come as no surprise that the state owns the beach. The state doesn't care about the Nbpt beach since Nbpt owns the parking/access, so they're taking the sand to Salisbury instead.

Who filed the Amended Order of Conditions ? DCR maybe ? So that's 75% for Newbury - 25% for Salisbury and 0% for Newburyport - NO sand for you ! Some "alliance"...

Gillian Swart said...

Tell me about it - after Nbpt was knocked out of the equation (at the meeting), Moak started doodling on his notepad.

Bubba said...

Well, to quote deepthroat - "follow the money..."

Gillian Swart said...

OK, I just talked to Mary Reilly and it all seems to be as clear as mud. She gave me some names at Army Corps Engineers and DCR who maybe can answer some questions. I'm now not sure whether the amended order of conditions put Nbpt in or excluded, or what. But I'll find out.

The city isn't even clear on what its responsibilities are on the beach (apparently there's an MOU, somewhere). The only thing that's clear is that there's going to be some big old pipe running along there so Newbury can get its sand...

But good point about the money.

Bubba said...

Oddly, the city lists the parking lot/playground as city property in its GIS database.

The draft 204 study that I read didn't include Salisbury, but magically they've become eligible.

I smell some back-room horse trading.

Gillian Swart said...

Well, Bubba, that's what Mary Reilly told me on Friday - that the state owns only the beach. But today she told me about the MOU. Hence the confusion I refer to in my later post.

Well there was that (I guess informal) agreement between Nby and Salisbury to share the sand, but only on an alternate basis. But this might be all anyone gets for ever more.

I agree, it would seem there was some horse trading going on in the back room.

Bubba said...

Right but the ACOE claimed it can't place sand in Nbpt because it was not part of the 204, yet it appears its placing it in Salisbury. I'm guessing that Salisbury was mysteriously added to the 204 after the fact or DCR/ACOE are using an accounting gimmick to include it.