Three area communities are stepping up their efforts to get the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out repairs to two jetties at the mouth of the Merrimack River they say are needed to halt erosion of Plum Island and Salisbury beaches.
Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury have been advocating for repairs to the jetties for several years, working through the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, which includes the three communities, area legislators, and members of three local organizations concerned with protecting the beaches.
The alliance says the repairs are critically needed because breaches in the jetties are disrupting the normal flow of sand at the river mouth, contributing to the steady erosion of the two beach areas. The disrepair of the south jetty affects Plum Island and that of the north jetty, Salisbury Beach.
Alliance members were disappointed this past spring when regional Army Corps officials informed them that due to lack of funding, the agency was putting on hold plans to repair the south jetty.
In a planned sequence of projects supported by the alliance, the Army Corps had intended to repair the south jetty first and the north jetty after that. But the announcement by the corps has left uncertain when either project might occur.
Hoping to jump-start the process, a delegation of local officials and legislators traveled to Washington on Oct. 4 to advocate for funding for the two projects.
Taking part in the visit were Donna D. Holaday, mayor of Newburyport; Joseph Story, chairman of the Newbury Board of Selectmen; state Senate minority leader Bruce E. Tarr, a Gloucester Republican; state Senator Stephen A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat; and state Representative Michael A. Costello, a Newburyport Democrat. They were joined by Marc Sarkady, who is president of the Plum Island Foundation and runs a leadership consultant business in Washington.
The trip included meetings with Theodore A. “Tab’’ Brown, chief of the Army Corps’ Planning and Policy Division, and with Representative John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat, and Senators John F. Kerry and Scott Brown.
Tarr, who serves as permanent cochairman of the alliance, said the visit was productive.
“We got good advice from [Brown] and a firm commitment for continued support from the federal delegation,’’ he said.
Tarr said the Corps’ announcement this past spring that the agency did not have the funding to proceed took the alliance by surprise. He noted that the south jetty project, estimated at $5 million, had been designed and that the alliance had undertaken some tasks for the corps, including working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the work would not disturb nesting plovers.
More info: boston
By John Laidler
Source: boston, October 20, 2011;