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Chapoquoit Beach Restoration Feasible But Could Cost $2 Million

Posted on June 7, 2016

By Carrie L. Gentile, The Falmouth Enterprise

Residents with private access to Chapoquoit Beach would have to pay their portion of the $1.7 million to $2 million price tag to renourish the eroding beach, according to preliminary plans unveiled at a community meeting Wednesday night, June 1.

Leslie Fields, a coastal geologist with the Woods Hole Group, presented to an audience at the West Falmouth Library a proposal to fill in the sandy stretch of West Falmouth that is losing its real estate at a rate of 1.5 to 2 feet per year.

During high tide, the beach is swallowed completely by the incoming water in many spots. And if left unattended, the Chapoquoit Road causeway running parallel to the beachfront could continue crumbling and cracking as the sand and soil beneath it is sucked out, Ms. Fields said.

The plan outlined by Ms. Fields includes using sand dredged by the Army Corps of Engineer from the Cape Cod Canal’s west end to fill in 13 acres, or 3,000 linear feet, centered around the Chapoquoit public beach, south to Bowerman’s Beach Club’s waterfront and north covering about half of Chapoquoit Island’s Buzzards Bay frontage.

It would increase the beach elevation by seven feet and add an estimated 75 to 120 feet of beach at high tide.

Because public funds would be used for the project, residents of Chapoquoit Associates and Bowerman’s Beach Club would have to agree to permanent public easements, or pay for the sand themselves at a rate of $560 to $650 per linear feet, with the remaining paid for through a Town Meeting article.

“You would pay for your share if you did not want to open up to the public,” Ms. Field told the residents.

Another public easement trigger is if the Army Corps of Engineers pumps sand directly onto the beach. Accordingly, the sand would be dumped just offshore at an approved site, then pumped by the county onto the beach. This method required temporary easements only.

Still in its feasibility study stage, Ms. Fields said residents have plenty of time to decide if they want in on the project. Consensus building among the private residents would occur prior to permitting and dredging, Ms. Fields said.

However, it would not move forward without either of the private entities signing off.

“Modeling shows the longevity of the project increases with the length of the project. If it has to be shortened by Bowerman’s or Chapoquoit Associates not participating, it becomes so short it is not viable,” she said.

She estimated the actual dredging would be five to eight years, contingent upon homeowner and taxpayer approval and waiting for the canal to be dredged.

“The stars have to align,” she said.

After 10 years, Ms. Fields said only about 16 to 30 percent of the fill would remain on the beach, with the rest spreading out to sea and traveling northward to West Falmouth Harbor, a cause of concern for some residents.

Resident John D. Ross encouraged Ms. Fields to study the access to West Falmouth Harbor, which is already shoaling, he said, with boats drawing more than five feet unable to pass through.

He said dredging permits have been denied there because the bottom is too muddy.

Others were concerned over the quality of the dredge spoils.

“It is high quality, clean sand that is compatible with what is already at Chappy,” Ms. Fields said. Upon request, she said she would bring to the next public meeting samples of the sand that would be used.

Although a firm date was not set, another public meeting will be held this month to further discuss feasibility and the ramifications to the beach and road if nothing is done.

Source: The Falmouth Enterprise

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