Engineer Gives Upbeat Update On Sandwich Beach Restoration

Photo by Paul Schrader
- Photo by Paul Schrader

Hope, a feeling not often associated with Sandwich’s lengthy battle against beach erosion, made its appearance April 3 at an update on the town’s efforts to restore and renew its beaches.

Kirk F. Bosma, senior coastal engineer at the Woods Hole Group, the town’s consultant on beach restoration, gave a lengthy presentation at last night’s board of selectmen meeting.

Mr. Bosma focused on Town Neck Beach, the mostly town-owned stretch of coastline that has suffered extensively from erosion.

Since the construction of the Cape Cod Canal a century ago, Mr. Bosma said, Sandwich beaches, and especially Town Neck, have been starved of sand.

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The canal’s jetty has interrupted the eastward flow of sediment along the shore that otherwise would have made its way onto those beaches.

As a result, Mr. Bosma said, Town Neck has been losing two feet of seaward sand a year. Further, the rate of erosion is increasing.

Towns such as Sandwich can counteract beach erosion, Mr. Bosma said. But he said any such effort requires a tripod consisting of money, beach restoration permits, and enough sand to do the job.

Somewhat suddenly, the long-struggling town has found itself in better-than-expected shape on all three parts of the tripod.

And that has given Mr. Bosma, who has worked with the town on its efforts for the past decade, hope.

The town is seeking a $5 million federal coastal resiliency grant, which it can add to, should Sandwich voters approve, with more than $1 million of community preservation funds.

The town also hopes to receive up to $4.8 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds as reimbursement for damage suffered in Hurricane Sandy and snowstorm Nemo.

That potentially gives the town more than $11 million to use toward what Mr. Bosma described as its preferred alternative for restoring Town Neck Beach: the deposit of 387,500 cubic yards of sand along 5,000 linear feet of beach shorefront.

The town would build up the dunes along the beach, and extend the beach toward the water. Mr. Bosma said the flat beach would extend 200 feet into what is now water.

“This is something that the beach probably has not had in 75 years—which is beach,” Mr. Bosma said.

Of course, the town also needs regulatory permission, along with enough sediment to grow the beach.

But Mr. Bosma was optimistic on these fronts as well. He said he anticipates that the projects will have all necessary state and federal permits for the Town Neck project in hand by October. Construction could begin next winter.

The engineer’s optimism also is fueled by what appears to be a dramatic change of heart at the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The latter may open the door to the kind of volume of sand that the Town Neck project needs. Sandwich officials hope to get federal permission to obtain large amounts of sand from Scusset, an area of town on the western side of the canal, as well as from the dredging of the canal itself.

“Things are coming together a lot better than I thought,” Mr. Bosma said.

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