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Beach Protection, Dredging Mulled in Orleans

Posted on March 28, 2017

By Doreen Leggett, Wicked Local Chatham

Nauset Beach is disappearing rapidly so selectmen are trying to act quickly to protect the uber popular destination.

They tasked their consultant, Woods Hole Group, to move forward on phase one and phase two of the project, which may mean that buildings at the beach could be demolished as early as next year.

“We are working now to permit that project as quickly as we can,” said Leslie Fields, a coastal geologist.

She expects to have permits in hand by the end of this year that would allow the town to fill in the gaping hole, scoured by the sea, near the main boardwalk; demolish buildings, including Liam’s and the bathhouse and rebuilding them as portable structures’ remove a row of parking and build a 200-foot-wide, 25-foot-tall and 1,500-long dune in its place. The plans also call for moving the entrance of the beach to the upper level, where the Hubler property is. The exit would remain the same.

Fields said the town didn’t have to move forward on dune construction in 2018; officials could delay that if erosion damage was less than expected. About 12 feet of dune is eroded every year and less than 80 feet remains of the dune that protects the parking lot.

“You can wait and see about the erosion along the dune,” she said.

While Woods Hole Group is moving forward on shoring up Nauset Beach they are also planning to move forward with gaining approval to dredge Nauset Estuary. Fields said she wanted selectmen to think about whether they wanted the project broken into two separate endeavors and whether they would move ahead if Eastham didn’t help with funding.

The channel has filled in considerably over the years making it a safety concern for recreational boaters and endangering the livelihoods of commercial fishermen. Commercial fishermen have been talking about the problem for years and brought forward a town meeting article in 2016 that allocated money to address the growing problem.

The idea was that some of dredge spoils from the project could be used to nourish Nauset Beach. But Fields said Cape Cod National Seashore staff would require a National Environmental Policy Act review for that happen and those reviews are time-consuming.

“That was a new piece of news and that is going to slow the project down,” Fields said, adding that garnering permits could take until 2020 or 202.1

Because dredging permits and funding are still in question, Fields recommended the town use an upland source to build the dune at Nauset.

Fields said the town could do a smaller version of the dredging project – from inner Town Cove to Hopkins Island. That permit to dredge 6800 cubic yards of material could be secured by 2018 and the town could bring the sand to a parking lot to be de-watered. The sand could then be used to nourish Skaket Beach or even sold to other towns, she said.

“You can offset the cost you are currently spending at Skaket Beach,” Fields said.

There is a possibility that the Seashore would allow the de-watered spoils to be used at Nauset Beach, but she needed to speak with park staff further. Fields said they weren’t given a reason as to why putting the dredged material from the estuary directly on the nearby beach was unacceptable.

Source: Wicked Local Watertown

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