EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 17, 2013

Officials push to restore sand funding

Costello: $300K budget cut by governor was 'very shortsighted'

SALISBURY — Local legislators are vowing to fight to restore the $300,000 to replenish the sand on Salisbury Beach after the line item was among the vetoes by Gov. Deval Patrick to the state budget last week.

Winter storms ravaged the beach and its dunes system along Salisbury Beach, which is owned by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. DCR spent about $166,000 from its budget to bring in 15,000 cubic yards of sand to replenish small portions of the beach. But 15,000 cubic yards of sand was far less than what was needed to restore the hardest hit areas of the dunes in front of vulnerable homes between beach access ways 6 and 8.

As a result, state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, and state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, set out to earmark $300,000 in the FY2014 budget so DCR could purchase more sand to finish the job. Although the money was in the House’s version of the budget, by the time the budget made it out of the Senate chamber, the $300,000 had disappeared.

Both legislators were successful in getting the money restored by the budget Conference Committee, however, so the final budget document went to Patrick’s desk with the $300,000 in it.

Then, on Friday, Patrick used his power to veto scores of budget line items, including local aid and the line that held the money for Salisbury Beach.

“I think that was very shortsighted when it comes to the administration’s priorities,” Costello said yesterday. “We wouldn’t have needed to ask for that $300,000 if we could have worked things out (with DCR) on where to put the sand.”

Costello can think of only two reasons why Patrick vetoed such a crucial item needed to ensure the health of Salisbury Beach. The budget raises the Beach Preservation Trust Fund surcharge on parking and camping fees from $1 to $2, Costello said, and perhaps Patrick believes that with this additional alternative funding mechanism, DCR doesn’t need the additional $300,000 to buy sand.

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