[OPINION] CARES $$$ Can Help Beach Jetty

As president of the Greens Farms Association, Art Schoeller has a special fondness for Burying Hill Beach.

Over the years, he’s watched the jetty deteriorate. He has an idea on how to keep it safe — without spending one local tax dollar. He says:

An old aphorism suggests it’s better to invest early. Waiting costs more in the long run.

This sign went up at Burying Hill Beach years ago, after lobbying by the Greens Farms Association and concerned neighbors.

“Dangerous” indicates the dire condition of the jetty. While its main purpose is not for pedestrian traffic, it still describes the poor condition of the structure, whose main purpose is to protect the beach.

Up to 40% of the structure has eroded or decayed away, due to normal aging. It was built in 1958. Some research indicates the useful life of a jetty is 30 to 50 years.

Losing the jetty means losing the beach.

The first selectman’s office has already directed Public Works to obtain estimates and permits. This is a “shovel ready” project, estimated to cost $900,000. Not acting now would allow these permits to expire, therefore wasting that investment.

One view of the Burying Hill Beach jetty ,,, Photo/Amy Schneider)

Now we have a chance to finally push this project through — at no cost to the town.

The town of Westport is due to receive $8.4 million in CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funding from the federal government. On January 5, the Board of Finance will decide whether or not to apply a portion of those funds to this sorely needed project.

As noted in numerous “06880” postings over the years, a thriving community of users beyond Greens Farms residents enjoy the informal, relaxed and quiet nature of Burying Hill Beach.

The Board of Finance will consider CARES funding soon, If you think this is a project worth considering, please contact board members by email: BOFcomments@westportct.gov.

… and another.  (Photo/Michael Nayor)

8 responses to “[OPINION] CARES $$$ Can Help Beach Jetty

  1. This is akin to the business owner who took his CARES money and bought a Ferrari with it. Rebuild a jetty? Really? How does that fit into the spirit of the CARES ACT? I rather the money be returned. How about something that would benefit ALL the people of Westport, like the sorely needed new ambulances/response trucks for our mostly volunteer EMS? I’m sure there are similar needs of the police or fire departments. How about funding for charity and relief organizations that are helping people suffering the effects of COVID (the actual targeted recipients of the CARES Act)? What about funding new School Resource Officers at our schools other than Staples to protect our kids? What about directing funds where it is actually needed the most, like charitable work in Bridgeport. Rebuild a jetty? Sorry to say it, but If the BOF approves this we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

    • How about putting it in an investment account for our grandchildren who are going to have to pay all this irresponsible money back

  2. First of all, rebuilding the Jetty does in fact help all of Westport. In fact, it plays a role in helping the entire CT shoreline.

    Jetty’s, or groins, as they are sometimes labeled, do a job of helping to hold shoreline in place. Not for the pleasure of beach use or walks (although those are nice benefits) but for the protection of structures that sit just past the sand.

    Towns up and down coastlines all over the world work hard to keep a deep and solid shoreline in place, especially with rising sea levels and tides and too much development too close to the water from decades ago. Many towns have now restricted development close to shorelines, many still have not.

    Regardless, the shoreline is the first and main protection point against storms. The hope and goal is that they will be what gets battered most before any houses or buildings get wiped.

    I would also warn that this isn’t an easy or fast fix. In FL, it has taken decades for many towns to get the necessary approvals to repair or add any groin structures to the shorelines. I know it’s the same in other states as well. I currently sit on a Shore Protection Board in Palm Beach County. There are environmental groups that have objections and need to provide approvals for any and all new or even existing work to be done in a water area … Fisheries & Wildlife, the DEP, etc. There are long and arduous processes to navigate along with getting the environmentalists on your side. At times, it feels like the safety issues that may be at play will take second place to the protection of reefs or hard bottom designations.

    And also remember cause and effect. It will be almost impossible to rebuild any jetty to it’s original condition as the shoreline is now operating “as is.” To rebuild it will take it to a whole different level of something in how it acts along the shoreline. Any changes to it now will have a cause and effect to the shorelines on both sides. Just because it once was, doesn’t mean it will ever be allowed to be that again.

    • You’re absolutely right, it is needed and provides protection to an environmental asset, but how is this related to COVID and its deleterious affects on the population? I guess let them eat cake.

      • I believe one of the main drivers for the CARES act was to pump money into the economy to counter the economic drag that Covid brought. This certainly seems like a project that would employ people and promote economic activity, and in keeping with goals of the CARES act.

  3. Is there a way to find out what other options are on the table for this money so we can make an informed decision as to the best use of it?

  4. Thanks to those who suggested an ambulance for Westport EMS. There are many, many projects that are deserving of consideration but we feel that there also should be a prioritization of projects that will benefit the entire community directly in the spirit that the money was intended. An ambulance would benefit the entire town with immediate effect. WVEMS has a 40+ year history of buying all of the equipment and vehicles for Westport EMS. We fully intend to continue that practice however we see these ARPA funds as a one time event that we can’t let pass by. Please spread the word and voice your support for this. We only asked for a portion of the cost of a new ambulance – WVEMS will foot the rest. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

  5. Elizabeth Thibault

    Mr. McCarthy is absolutely correct, this money is granted to recipients in order to offset the impacts of the pandemic, not just the direct but also indirect impacts. Not only for items such as PPE, but also to be put to work to assist with funding for items that could be impacted by a decline in municipal revenue, to assist those in need, etc…

    The changing environment and damage to the local ecosystems puts at risk the natural environment we all enjoy and which contributes towards our quality of life. (Property values are kept high by the desirability of our town, which I can assure you, the beaches factor highly into these calculations.) The EMS team has a noble and life saving mission which serves us all when we’re at our most vulnerable moments, doing our best to ensure we survive another day to give thanks for all that we have here.

    I’m not sure why there would be a desire to pit the environmental concerns of our shoreline against the concerns of our local EMS. Both have short and long term implications for current and future residents, and should be considered a priority. We can advocate wise spending, thoughtful consideration of urgent and immediate priorities, without attempting to diminish the worthiness of other endeavors.

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