O.B. is awarded $10 million for bluff restoration

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Oak Bluffs has received a federal grant for bluff restoration. -Rich Saltzberg

Oak Bluffs has been awarded $10 million by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in the mitigation of East Chop Bluff erosion. 

According to a FEMA news release, regional administrator Lori Ehrlich said, “FEMA is extremely pleased to assist Oak Bluffs in their efforts to build more resilient infrastructure … That local taxpayers voted to fund part of the project was a demonstration of the town’s commitment to protecting itself from coastal erosion hazards, including those caused by climate change.”

Back in April, Oak Bluffs residents voted to approve $6.9 million at town meeting to fund the ongoing East Chop Bluff restoration. 

The project, which has been estimated to add up to $16.9 million, is effectively fully funded, although the town is still looking for possible assistance with its share. 

The restoration project, as approved by the town, aims to stabilize the bluff and the surrounding infrastructure by way of an extended revetment and regrading, in addition to mitigating further damage to the eroding bluff and increasing accessibility to the area. 

The substantial grant award follows numerous requests by the town for funding in the past, including $100,000 from the Baker-Polito administration as part of its allotment of $10.2 million to refurbishment of critical coastal infrastructure and to help mitigate dam deterioration across the commonwealth.

“Studies have shown that every dollar spent on mitigation saves roughly $6 in future disaster losses,” Ehrich said in the release. “Grants like this one are smart investments that pay off in the long run, and help keep our communities safer.”

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