EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 13, 2013

On Plum Island, beachfront is transformed -- again

Thousands of boulders buried under blanket of sand

PLUM ISLAND — After weeks of frenetic activity, residents and construction crews alike seem to be taking a break from storm repair on Plum Island, as both the south and north ends of island are silent as the plovers prepare to nest.

In mid to late March, the beachfront along Annapolis Way and Fordham Way, where storm-surge erosion had destroyed homes and ripped away sand dunes, looked like a rock quarry. Thousands of rocks of all sizes had been dumped along the edge of the dune, creating a rugged “armor” that is intended to prevent more erosion.

The noise of heavy equipment and clatter of rocks rumbling against one another is now gone, replaced by the usual pre-summer quiet. But what’s more surprising is how the beach’s appearance has transformed.

Now, the high-tide mark appears to have dunes again, and few of the thousands of boulders are visible.

“Sand, compatible sand, was trucked in by local vendors,” said Joe Story, chairman of the Newbury Selectman.

Marc Sarkady, who heads the Plum Island Foundation, said, “There seems to have been a mix of beach and (other sand). It looks like there are dunes there again.”

The placement of imported sand is separate from a proposal to “mine” sand from the beach’s low tide area, for which residents have requested permission. Story said that local officials have not received a decision from the Department of Environmental Protection about a formal proposal that they have put before state officials.

Mining would involve heavy equipment moving sand from below the low tide mark to the high-tide line as a means of fortifying the dunes.

Ed Coletta, a spokesman for the state DEP, Friday stated that no decisions have been made.

“There is a lot of information to review. Right now we don’t have a date as to when a decision will be made,” he said.

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