In Wake Of Storm, Falmouth Looks To Make Coastal Repairs, Renourish Beaches

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The large barrier of sand protecting the west end of the Menauhant Beach parking lot was washed away during the powerful storm earlier this month. GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE

Posted October 30, 2019

Dredge materials will be used to replenish Falmouth beaches that were damaged during the recent storm.

Beach Superintendent Bruce M. Mogardo highlighted the damages and outlined the town's renourishment plans at the Monday, October 28, meeting of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.

"The south side beaches took the biggest hit, with Menauhant West being the biggest loser," Mr. Mogardo said. "It looks pretty bleak out there. One could almost describe it as a moonscape."

Menauhant Beach West lost approximately eight to 10 feet of parking lot, as well as a 12-feet-high, 24-feet-wide dune.

"It was really alarming," Selectmen chairwoman Megan E. English Braga said. "In all of my life here, this is some of the worst damage I have ever seen."

Though Menauhant Beach was hit heavily, Mr. Mogardo said Bristol Beach and Falmouth Heights Beach withstood the storm well.

"Surf Drive was another story," he said. "We lost sand at the kiddie pool, we lost in front of the bath house, we have water in the bath house, and down Mill Road, the profile has changed and the road is somewhat overwashed."

Ms. English Braga described the views at Menauhant Beach and Surf Drive Beach as stark.

"That profile at Surf Drive is nothing I'm familiar with," she said.

The west side beaches were not as heavily hit, Mr. Mogardo said. However, Old Silver Beach lost approximately a third of its sand.

"We're not in bad shape there," Mr. Mogardo said. "I'm confident a couple of northwest storms this winter will replenish some of Old Silver, but we do need to take a look and make a plan for Surf Drive and Menauhant."

Representatives from the Falmouth beach department, conservation department, marine and environmental services department, department of public works and town administration met on October 25 to create that plan. The town will use dredge materials to replenish its beaches.

Approximately 2,000 cubic yards of material dredged from Eel Pond will be deposited at Menauhant East. The county dredge cannot deposit this material at Menauhant West without the use of its booster, which currently is not available.

Town administration will meet with the Falmouth Conservation Commission Wednesday, November 6, to discuss moving approximately 3,500 cubic yards of material from Menauhant East to Menauhant West.

"The dune there needs approximately 1,500 cubic yards of material," Town Manager Julian M. Suso said. "The beach could use approximately 5,000 yards. The balance of the needed material will come from the pit, as we call it."

The pit is located at the town's composting facility on Blacksmith Shop Road. After the town dredges, the dredged material is brought to the composting facility and stored for later use, deputy director of public works Peter M. McConarty said.

Mr. Suso said the town has identified $46,000 in budgeted funds that can be used for this beach nourishment.

The town will also repair the Shining Sea Bikeway. A portion of the bike path approximately 500 feet south of the Trunk River collapsed during the storm. The department of public works has already restored the bike path's shoulders, mitigating further damage to that area.

"We already have a plan to repave and replace that section," Mr. McConarty said. "We will go in and do the asphalt. That will all be taken care of this year."

Mr. McConarty noted this section of the Shining Sea Bikeway has long been a problem area. The Falmouth Department of Public Works in 2007, they have had to replace that portion of the bike path four times since he joined the department in 2017, he said.

The department aims to repave that section in November. Mr. Suso said the town plans to address the bridge and revetment, as well.

"We are exploring, with the assistance of [conservation administrator] Jen McKay and the conservation commission, the potential extension, if possible, of that designed revetment, which would provide more dynamic protection to the bike path, particular to that section which was most heavily damaged," he said.

This effort will also require approval from state agencies, Mr. Suso said.

Selectman Douglas H. Jones noted areas protected by the revetment were less damaged by the storm.

"Where we had that revetment, we're in pretty good shape, but where we didn't, we here wiped out," Mr. Jones said.