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Merrimack Valley

February 25, 2013

Seabrook stalling dredge sign-off

Officials won't release bond until all repairs complete

SEABROOK — The Army Corps of Engineers’ dredge of Seabrook/Hampton Harbor is going to have to clear another hurdle before local officials consider it complete.

Seabrook Public Works manager John Starkey said he isn’t satisfied with repairs made to town property damaged by dredge equipment.

Last week, Starkey told selectmen he refused to agree to allow the Corps’ dredge contractor Southwind Construction Corporation of Indiana to leave without doing more work.

“There were more flies in the ointment” during this dredge than in others that came before it, Starkey said, a claim others in town have also made.

The $3.1 million project, which began last November, involved hydraulicly dredging about 172,000 cubic yards of sand from the harbor, then pumping it back onto beaches in Hampton and Seabrook.

The work camp for the dredge, which included heavy equipment, hundreds of feet of piping and other vehicles, was set up on Seabrook property by the harbor and beach.

Starkey said during the work, the town’s chain-link fencing was damaged, as was its boardwalk near Hooksett Street. The ground around Harborside Park was also disturbed, he said. Starkey said he is also concerned about possible damage done to the town’s beach dunes and dune grass, which are environmentally protected.

If local officials or residents harm beach grass or the dunes, Starkey said they’re chastised by state and federal wetlands officials. He’s worried the town will shoulder the responsibility when wetlands officials learn about the damage.

“They restored the chain-link fence, but there’s some damage that needs a second look,” Starkey told selectmen. “If we step on the beach grass, we get into trouble. I don’t think the town of Seabrook should be left holding the bag on any issue.”

Issues have plagued the project all along the way. For starters, selectmen agreed to allow an 800-foot-long snow fence to be installed along the beach to protect piping plover nesting areas after state and federal wildlife officials said the birds had been harassed by some beachfront property owners.

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