Hashamomuck Cove residents had the chance last Tuesday to get answers about a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to bolster the beach along their properties against rising sea levels.
The proposed project, which preliminary estimates say will cost about $17.7 million, includes a beach build-up of 50 feet along the west, central and east sections of the cove, a stretch of roughly 1.6 miles.
“We understand that our projects directly impact the homeowners because there are requirements for real estate and public access,” said Steve Couch, chief deputy of planning Steve Couch, chief deputy of planning for the Army Corps.
The beachfront would no longer be private, state Department of Environmental Conservation’s chief coastal erosion manager Sue McCormick explained. The public would be able bring their beach blankets and chairs to the replenished beach, as part of the contract requirement. In addition, the east and central sections of the cove would require a few parking spaces, while the Town Beach lot would provide access to the western portion.
Lynn Laskos, chair of the Hashamomuck Cove group, asked for clarity about whether people would be able to use a homeowner’s steps to get to the beach.
“They have no right to go on private property,” Ms. McCormick said. “They can only go where sand is placed.”
A few residents also asked about the project’s easement requirement. To conduct any sort of construction, the Army Corps will need to obtain easements from the owners of approximately 75 private parcels.
Owners can agree to donate the easement to the local project sponsor, which has not yet be determined, or can be compensated for it after an appraisal of their property.
Bill Frangos asked whether the easement would affect the deed on his property. Ms. McCormick said the easements do not alter deeds and the amount of property someone owns.
Owners were also curious as to where the sand to replenish the beach will come from. While the project could be conducted by trucking sand in, Mr. Couch said, other methods, such as dredging, look to be more cost effective.
In addition, people wanted to know about the proposal’s next steps. The final results of the analysis will be complete sometime this fall and will be released at a presentation, Mr. Couch said. That report needs to be approved by Congress.
At one point an attendee asked if the Army Corps had explored all alternative options to protect Route 48 from sea level rise. The Corps concluded that its current plan is the most cost-effective long-term solution for the area, Mr. Couch said.
Ms. Laskos, whose home was knocked into Long Island Sound by a nor’easter in 1994, said the project is necessary to protect both the homes and the road. Homeowners have tried to bolster their own shorelines with revetments and bulkheads over the years, but now more needs to be done, she said.
“It’s the homeowners who are protecting this road,” she continued. “We invested in this for years and years and years. Now we’re saying, ‘Hey, we can’t be the buffers any longer.’”