, Salem, MA

Local News

April 7, 2008

Sand Wars Who owns the sand? Ongoing battle may delay solutions for Plum Island


"They need the sand more than we do right now. And, we got $1 million worth of sand from the state this summer that stabilized our situation temporarily," Harrington said, referring to the state bringing in 20,000 cubic yards of sand to shore up damage at Salisbury Beach caused by last year's devastating Patriots Day storm. "Our whole approach to the erosion issue has been to be cooperative and approach this regionally. If we all can work cooperatively, we think we'll have a better chance of all winning in the end."

In addition, Harrington said, since Salisbury Beach is state owned, the state has the burden of funding erosion repair, prevention and beach maintenance. In Plum Island, he said, the town and individual home owners would have to pay a significant amouth of money to repair the current dangerous state of erosion on the island's beaches.

Klima, who has a year-round home in Salisbury and a beach home on Plum Island, also believes the state's role in Salisbury Beach's erosion issue, can leverage federal money for the area.

Both Harrington and Klima strongly avow that continued fights between towns over sand will not only hold up the permits needed for the corps to do the dredging, but also hold up current and future funding to help the erosion problem the communities are facing from state and federal agencies. Congressman John Tierney agreed to work on behalf of the region on this issue, Harrington said, but that support could depend on the region presenting a united front in the erosion battle, not battle each over shifting sand.

New battle erupts

In late February, Harrington had great hopes for the agreement he and Newbury town official signed. It had taken some convincing to get some more adamant Plum Island officials to go along with the concept of cooperation, he said, but the deal was struck and he felt it was a good one.

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