Town Committee on Squibnocket
September 16, 2014
Chilmark Town Hall Selectmen’s Meeting Room
Present: Jim Malkin (Chair), Allison Burger, Steve Flanders, Dan Greenbaum, Billy Meegan, Jane Slater, Janet Weidner
Also Present: Chris Murphy, Tony Orphanos, Wendy Jeffers, John Ramsey, Charles Parker, Barbara Lee, David Damroth, Alex Elvin, J. Cunningham, Bill Cunningham, Celeste Damon, Rick Schweder, Candy Schweder, Christian Ludwig, Diana Barrett, Bob Vila, Miles Jaffe, Erik Peters, Martin Hale, Jay Walsh, Edward Miller, Emily Bramhall, Doug Liman, Chuck Parrish, others unspecified.
Minutes of September 2 2014 were approved.
FoS LLC Presentation: Tony Orphanos introduced the presentation of the coastal dune solution, which he characterized as environmentally-appropriate, lower-cost and adaptable to coastal changes. Charles Parker presented the migrating dune strategy as durable, sustainable, and maintainable through renewable permits. Removal of existing revetments will allow the beach to recover, resulting in an estimated 50’-60’ of sandy beach, with a proposed 113’ wide dune behind it, and a permeable, single-lane road behind that. Landward migration of the dune is a natural process and as the pond fills in via accretion of sand, the road can be adjusted to migrate with the dune. This is a long-term, flexible solution to provide access to Squibnocket. Cost estimates come in at
$190K for construction, and ca. $7K annual maintenance (whereby it is to be noted that not every year will see major maintenance costs—this is an average to account for years in which storm activity will require more significant repairs). He noted that, in Duxbury, a comparable dune project has been built on a much larger and more complex scale, and he urged Committee members to visit Duxbury to see it.
John Ramsey, coastal engineer, addressed the more technical aspects of the FoS LLC proposal. He noted erosion data going back to 1897, which predates human interference with the coastline, gives an average erosion rate of 1.3’ per year. Average erosion of a shorter, 56-year span (encompassing the period of human coastal interference) yields an erosion rate of 2.3’ per year, which probably provides a more reasonable framework for planning purposes. He noted that a constructed dune will naturally migrate landward, but will also lose mass in that process: while some infill on the back of the dune will occur naturally, through overwash, human replenishment of the dune will also be required in order for the dune to protect road access in the long run. Committee members
asked if the sand required to build the dune would be pumped in or trucked in; it will be trucked in. Dan Greenbaum asked whether the material would be pumped in or trucked in. John Ramsey replied: “it would be trucked in. Having done a lot of stuff in Massachusetts, it’s very difficult to get permitted to do anything from offshore.”
Dan Greenbaum noted that this is “a lot of trucks.” John Ramsey replied: “if you’re looking at smaller dump trucks at 10 or 12 cubic yds/truck, you’re looking at 650 trucks.” Transporting the sand via barge would not work for such a relatively small project located at an open-ocean area. He suggested that the best procedure would be to build the new road first, then the dune to protect it, and only then to remove the existing revetments. This would minimize risk of disrupting access to properties distal to the current beach parking lot.
Utilities would be secured, probably by routing them under the pond, separately from the access road. As for parking, the presenters noted that there are three properties along the east end of the pond that could potentially be used for Beach parking; however, they noted that their proposal focuses primarily on the question of a dune-protected, flexible access road, and that details of beach parking are more appropriately addressed by the Town.
Janet Weidner asked about estimated frequency of required road reconstruction. While any given storm event’s timing cannot be predicted, the estimated frequency of events significant enough to require rebuilding the road could be roughly every 10 to 25 years. For example, a Hurricane Bob-type storm would require rebuilding the road. It was estimated that a road-rebuild would take up to a month to complete.
Jim Malkin asked about distribution of migrating sand: some of it is expected to go east, but we heard discussion that a west flowing ebb current will take sand west from the current revetment site back west to mussel bed. He questioned the impact of sand distribution east and west. John Ramsey replied that much of it is anticipated to flow east; some would go north in the event of an overwash. Steve Flanders asked who will pay to implement this proposal: Charles Parker replied that the SFHA would pay for any project to create access to Squibnocket.
Evaluation Criteria : Dan Greenbaum reported progress on the development of criteria to organize the Committee’s comparative evaluation of various elements of different proposed options. He also noted that the Committee would like to complete a visual survey of the area initiated at its recent site visit.
Experts to facilitate Committee Evaluation: Dan Greenbaum and Jane Slater are contacting experts who can assist the Committee in its evaluation of proposals. They are looking at three categories of expertise: coastal, environmental (the near-shore land area) and cost. Steve Flanders is looking for people who can help the Committee evaluate costs associated with various options.
Artificial Reef: Jane Slater has spoken to Cuttyhunk officials, who informed her that Cuttyhunk does not have an artificial reef. Allison Burger reported that people she spoke to on the matter of an artificial reef mentioned a $1million cost for evaluation of such a project, putting it out of reach for Chilmark.
Evaluation Matrix: Janet Weidner described a matrix which she is constructing that will show all required components, including regulatory submissions, legal agreements , acquisitions etc. She will make the matrix available to the Committee when it is nearer completion.
Beach Committee: Jim Malkin reported that he has met with the Beach Committee to acquaint them with the mandate and work of the Town Committee on Squibnocket, and that members of the Beach Committee will attend the September 30th meeting of the Squibnocket Committee to share their ideas and insights.
Correspondence: Jim Malkin noted receipt of further correspondence from Chris Murphy, providing information on the dunes at Duxbury, and from Duncan Caldwell, regarding an exposed ancient forest and coastal dynamics around Squibnocket Point. He asked Marina Lent to make these communications available on the Squibnocket Project web page.
Proposal from the Chair: Jim Malkin then asked the Committee for its views as to the following proposal , namely, to ask Clarissa Allen and Lenny Jason, in their personal capacity as long-standing and respected Chilmark residents, to bring together representatives of the FoS LLC and the SFHA for informal discussions to explore whether common ground and mutually-beneficial ideas can be found. Jane Slater made a motion in support of Jim’s proposal, it was seconded and unanimously approved.
Grant funding: Chris Murphy suggested that the Committee could inquire with the State as to whether it would be possible to extend the deadline for use of the existing, committed grant monies. Jim Malkin reminded the meeting that the work of the Committee will proceed with all deliberate speed: while grant money is helpful, the Committee’s work is not driven by the availability and deadlines of grant funding, but by the need to find viable and maximally-satisfactory solutions to the problems faced in Squibnocket.
The meeting was adjourned at 09:47.