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Plum Island resident makes model of dredger owned by H&L Contracting

Posted on January 2, 2023

A Reservation Terrace resident has been so inspired by the sand dredging near his home off Plum Island that he created a unique memento of the work with a one-eighth model of the 220-foot dredger Oyster Bay.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a $9 million project that will see at least 226,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the Newburyport and Salisbury sides of the Merrimack River and deposited on the beach near Reservation Terrace.

Oyster Bay has already dredged a 9-foot-deep channel on the Newburyport side of the river.

H&L Contracting of New York is expected to begin work on a 15-foot-deep channel on the Salisbury side when the weather cooperates, according to Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg.

“We had a nor’easter last week and there’s another storm coming in this weekend. That’s what you deal with in December and January, but they will begin work as soon as the weather breaks,” he said.

The dredged sand is expected to reestablish roughly 400 feet of beach along Reservation Terrace, where a home was condemned due to flooding in January.

Joe Cmar enjoys making models and has been fascinated with the dredging project, so the retired Reservation Terrace resident decided to construct his own version of the Oyster Bay using wood, paper, plastic and Styrofoam.

“I’m really happy that these guys are doing it. They’re there 24 hours a day. Two, three shifts a day,” he said, adding that it took him about two months to build his model.

Although his own home is not in immediate danger, Cmar said he is excited to see the dredging finally taking place after many years of planning.

“This won’t happen again for another 10, 20 years, and it’s just sucking up the sand,” he said. “They’re already done about a 150-foot-wide swath 9 feet deep in Newburyport. Then, they will dredge 15 feet deep in Salisbury and relocating it all on the shore. This is the big one.”

Cmar also built small-scale models of Oyster Bay’s support vessels, an access boat and tug, the Uncle Bill.

“When Oyster Bay is in the river here, it’s so big that it can’t steer. So they use the tug to push it,” he said.

The Oyster Bay was built in 1965, according to Cmar.

“The highest point is 85 feet, the middle area is 65 feet, and the boom for the dredge sticks out 45 feet,” he said.

Although the workers gave the vessel’s dimensions to Cmar, he also made sure to have son Ken fly his drone overhead to get some photos that could help him complete his model.

“We took about 28 pictures of different aspects of it and that helped me put it together,” Cmar said. “Then, I was able to scale that down to a one-eighth model.”

Happy with the completed model, Cmar delivered it to contractor HazTek Inc. on Tuesday afternoon.

HazTek quality control specialist Rob Marino said he and his safety management subcontracting crew were excited to accept Cmar’s model.

“The detail is really quite good. This guy really is a master model maker and the Army Corps of Engineers were also really impressed,” Marino said of Cmar.

Marino added that the Oyster Bay model will be sent to his company’s home office in Hauppauge, New York.

“(Cmar) really went above and beyond the call of duty, just with the detail alone. It’s just terrific,” he said.

Cmar said he has built about 40 models of local buildings over the years, such as Plum Island Grille, Plum Island Beachcoma, The Deck and the old Newburyport harbormaster’s shack.

“This is my hobby. I love to do it, and my wife loves me getting out of her way every day,” he said.


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