SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 29, 2013

Money sought to dredge rivers

(Continued)

“It’s been accelerating for the last five years and is serious because our marinas and commerce depend on boating. We’re getting choked off.”

Harbor officials from Gloucester said that commonly used parts of the Annisquam are so shallow that it’s difficult for two boats to traverse the river in opposite directions.

The discussion appeared to underline the notion that oceanside areas of the North Shore share the problem of shifting sand patterns that don’t necessarily serve local commercial interests.

The situation also focuses on a conundrum faced by these adjacent communities: River dwellers to the south want to get rid of sand, and residents of Plum Island desperately want to acquire the grainy substance to fortify their disappearing dunes.

But there is no federal money to permit an exchange to happen.

State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who chaired the alliance meeting, said, “We’re hitting a wall.”

Tarr suggested that more seaside communities work together to gain political strength and, hopefully, inspire federal leaders to produce financial packages that will serve local commercial interests.

The Army Corps, which has shown significant cooperation with North Shore legislators in the past two years, doesn’t have the money.

“I hear what you are saying about the problems of the three rivers, and getting together in a political way,” O’Donnell said. “As the situation now stands, there is no funding for (recreational) projects like that.”

On a separate matter, town officials in Newbury reported rapidly escalating home-insurance rates for homeowners along the Atlantic.

Joe Story, chairman of the Board of Selectman, said that under a new program, local seaside dwellers who had been paying $450 per year for insurance could be paying as much as $7,000 per year in the future.

Town officials say that federal officials are trying to substitute an insurance plan that pays for itself, rather than the current program that is government subsidized.

Tarr said that he plans to set up a meeting with insurance executives so that state and local officials can learn more about coping with insurance rates that appear to be shifting as wildly as the swirling sand offshore.

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