Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dereliction of duty and some other stuff

Wednesday is such a bad day - deadline day for both the Current and SeaCoast Scene.

I was so busy I didn't even get a chance to call the Clerk's office before it closed. Ah, well, there's always tomorrow morning.

But I did want to comment about the beach. Oh it's good to have the beach to rant about again.

I went over there this morning and it looked a lot better than it did yesterday. Either a whole bunch of sand had leaked out of sand bags or the waves had tossed some extra sand up there overnight.

Then I read the story in the Daily News ... then I talked to DEP ... and I have to say, the DN story is a little more upbeat than I think the situation warrants.

Those leaky sand bags are at the bottom of a big pile of heavy bags. Not the very bottom (there is another layer below them) but they are supporting some significant weight.

Also Chuck Kostro, the Newbury town administrator (who I'd never heard of until today), told me the town spent $50,000 just on design for placing those sand bags! That's not part of the $151,000 quoted as the cost of the project.

That money - the money spent on the project - was earmarked for a safety building for emergency equipment and for public 'facilities' at island center.

I'm not saying that the money was wasted on this sand bag project, but it was money that PITA (Plum Island Taxpayers and Associates or Association) got from the state for other projects.

PITA - that recently much-maligned group.

And all the while it came out in the Merrimack Beach Alliance meeting that Newbury sold a property on Hutchins Rd. for a tidy profit.

Where did that money go? Well ... a lot of it is going towards Newbury's match for beach nourishment (the sand from the dredging).

I should note here that Newburyport got public 'facilities' at the Point out of this same grant before the sand bag plan came up, so it's not as if we didn't get our share (although Ron Barrett told me today that the city underestimated how much public toilets cost and PITA had to come up with another $100,000 for the project). Or, rather, DCR got its share of its own grant since it owns the Newburyport beach ... I still can't get over that ... this whole thing has got so many twists ...

OK, so finally, two things: Jerry Klima, the Salisbury selectman who is on the Beach Alliance is indeed the vice president of PITA. I'm not sure that makes any difference to anything since Vincent Russo, the Newbury selectman, also owns property on the island, and he's on the Alliance as well.

Not to mention the 3 guys from the Plum Island Foundation and Barrett himself.

And there's Alan White (not in the Alliance, as far as I know), a head honcho editor with the Eagle-Tribune newspapers, who also lives on the island ... I always wondered how the DN got PI news so quickly and now I know!

I think the beach alliance is doing a good job. Kudos all around.


Bubba said...

Just a technicality, but the money was actually a grant from the Seaport Advisory Council. Nbpt also received a grant for the River/Harbor walk thingy.

Gillian Swart said...

Yeah, the second $100,000 (Ron B couldn't remember off the top of his head the name of the group it came from). The first $100,000 was part of the DCR grant. At least that's what he told me.

Bubba said...

The city's website only mentions the Seaport grant.

Here's the story from the DN...

And the globe....

"Wendy Fox, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Conservation and Recreation, said money for that project came from a Seaport Advisory Council grant of $300,000 that was going to be used for bathhouses. Instead, $230,000 of the grant was diverted to the sand bagging. She said the council is a multiagency group chaired by Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray.

Fox said that in June, DCR gave the nearby city of Newburyport's planning department an additional $475,000. The money was a regional grant that could be used for emergency erosion control measures.

"They can use that now," Fox said."

Gillian Swart said...

How odd ... both Barrett and Kostro said something completely different.