Chilmark addressing erosion after storms

After heavy storms, the town is planning to combat erosion at Squibnocket Road.

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Chilmark's conservation commission requested an Emergency Certification to repair the Squibnocket Parking Lot. —Chilmark Conservation Commission

Updated January 31.

After the series of heavy coastal storms that caused erosion Island-wide, it isn’t just Edgartown undergoing remediation efforts.

Chilmark officials are responding to effects at Squibnocket Road, and may use sand dredged from Menemsha Basin to do so.

The storms caused significant erosion Island-wide, especially at beaches and coastline areas. In Chilmark, notable impacts were also seen at Lucy Vincent beach.

Chilmark town administrator Timothy Carroll says that at Squibnocket Road, a small area was eroded and undermined after the storms. “We’re looking at fixing a very small undermining of the road, as an emergency order from the [conservation commission],” he told The Times recently.

“It’s like the [size of the] width of a car on the edge … people have been driving to the edge of the road, and it’s going to collapse if we keep letting them do that,” he said.

A temporary protective dune in front of the nearby causeway was also flattened in the storms. Carroll says that the town is considering whether to build a new dune. If it decides to build a dune, doing so could involve sand from a planned dredging project at Menemsha Basin.

Town harbormaster Ryan Rossi says that Menemsha Basin itself did not sustain storm damage, but that the town was recently permitted to ease ship movement in the basin by dredging and moving sand to Menemsha Beach. Rossi says that that dredging project will likely occur in the spring.

Carroll says that sand left over from that dredging could contribute to a new dune. “If we have extra [sand], maybe we can truck that to Squibnocket,” he said. “We might be able to build a dune to help protect the existing parking structures.”

As per state and federal regulations, Chilmark officials first have to confirm that any sand they plan to relocate matches that of the area it would be moved to.

One positive impact of the storms was the washing of ocean water into the pond system, Caroll said. “It’s a benefit to get the fresh saltwater into the pond system,” he said. “Having the south shore ponds … open to the ocean from time to time increases the salinity for growing oysters, but also it purges out some of the toxins that are built up into those freshwater ponds.”

This is by design, he added. “The system and the causeway were designed for overwash to happen. That’s why there was an elevated causeway [built], instead of a road on the surface.”

This article was updated to clarify that Menemsha Basin did not itself sustain storm damage.

2 COMMENTS

  1. How do we ensure that no public dollars go to Chilmark to repair a parking lot for a beach we are not allowed on?

    Charles

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