, Salem, MA

Local News

March 30, 2008

Friction growing over sand Plum Island citizens group letter disputes deal on dredge deposits


Salisbury Selectman Jerry Klima disagreed.

Klima said the letter could stir up hostility among the coastal communities and alienate federal and state agencies whose help is needed in maintaining healthy beaches.

"If he thinks he's going to help Plum Island by this action, I think he's mistaken," Klima said yesterday, referring to Connors. "The best way to help Plum Island is for all the communities involved to work together. If you work cooperatively in the region, you do better, especially when working with state and federal agencies. I can't understand his actions. This is counterproductive. This will delay things even more and that won't help Plum Island."

In addition to the Salisbury Board of Selectmen, the letter has been sent to Newburyport Mayor John Moak, Newbury selectmen Chairman Vincent Russo, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, DEP Regional Director Richard Chalpin, Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles and Jack Karalius, the Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the Merrimack River channel dredging.

Russo said he had not yet read the letter. Moak released a copy of it yesterday morning, but could not be reached for comment afterward.

The agreement allowing alternate deposits of sand at Plum Island and Salisbury Beach was negotiated as part of the state permitting process for the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake the first dredging of the Merrimack River channel since 1999.

That dredging operation, estimated to cost $1.4 million, received only partial federal funding this year and is awaiting congressional action for the rest.

The permit allows the Army Corps to dredge about 150,000 cubic yards of sand from the river channel and deposit it near the Plum Island shore at a specific Newbury site that was identified in all relevant documents.

In the letter, Brennan argued that the Army Corps' state permit also refers to an "alternate" sand deposit site off North Salisbury Beach, but that the Salisbury location was not properly specified ahead of time.

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