A much-debated plan to fill in a gap in the dune along a stretch of Beach Avenue could be accomplished by next weekend but only if an appeal of a Conservation Commission order of conditions is resolved. Meanwhile, potential sand sources for restoration of the dune, located opposite homes at 131 to 145 Beach Ave., were the topic of discussion at a commission hearing this week.
“We are trying to have the dune in place by March 21 in time for the annual beach grass planting,” said Conservation Administrator Chris Krahforst.
The cost of the project, which has been the subject of lengthy public hearings at the town level and in the county court, has been estimated to range between $15,000 and $42,000 depending on a number of factors.
At the Conservation Commission’s March 10 meeting, coastal engineer Mitchell Buck, of the Woods Hole Group, presented the results of its sand-sourcing analysis.
“This is a coastal dune project requiring 1,200 cubic yards of sand,” he reported. The height of the dune will be between four and five feet to match the existing dune grades. There will be a buffer strip of vegetation along the road in the area of the dune, consisting of small bushes such as beach plum as well as American beach grass.
The sand recommended by the Woods Hole Group is “less prone to washing or blowing away” and does not contain coarse sand or pebbles, Buck said; it is also considered to be a less expensive alternative to a finer grain of sand.
“The town of Hull has already used this road sand as a source to fill in gaps in the existing coastal dune along 101 to 103 Beach Ave.,” according to Buck.
Beach Avenue resident Duchie Murphy and others asked whether another type of sand could be used to cover over the orange hue of the recommended sand, which has been used in neighboring dunes. “I find the yellow-gold sand [that was deposited nearby a couple of years ago] offensive,” Murphy said.
Buck said the color will fade from weathering and bleaching by the sun over time. But one resident said that has not happened with other dunes in the area. Susan Kiernan, 141 Beach Ave., and Murphy both objected to necessarily using the most inexpensive sand.
However, Buck said that, even if the sand were not the most inexpensive type, he would recommend it anyway because of its resiliency.
Town Manager Philip Lemnios said the town is willing to consider some “frosting” of the dune, but not if the integrity of the dune would be compromised by doing so.
Lemnios said that vegetation would cover much of the orange sand. “Our first consideration was not aesthetics. The intention of the town is to install a stable dune that will last and that will protect the many homes along Manomet and Samoset avenues from chronic flooding, and we need to accomplish that in the most cost-effective way possible.”
He also said the town’s intention is to install a dune “consistent with the two adjacent dunes [on either side of the current gap].”
Resident Randy Gould asked why some of the excess sand at Coast Guard Beach is not going to be used. “There’s not an abundance of material there,” Lemnios said. “We don’t want to rob one resource area to deposit that sand in another resource area. While I appreciate your comments, that’s not the town’s plan.”
Murphy asked why the public hearing was scheduled when the decision on which sand to purchase had already been made. Krahforst explained that, after the Conservation Commission issued an order of conditions for the project, a promise was made to present the sand analysis findings to the public. He also noted that a number of public meetings about the dune project had been held earlier.
“So we’re just spinning our wheels,” Gould said.
Buck will oversee the construction phase, and the Department of Public Works will coordinate the work with a firm known as P.A. Landers, which is supplying the sand.
In the meantime, Lemnios asked Buck to provide on the following day his opinion of whether installing three inches of overtopping would affect the dune’s integrity.
Lemnios also spoke to the remaining issue: “The order of conditions is under appeal [by a Beach Avenue resident].”
Town Counsel James Lampke told The Hull Times that the town is in the process of negotiating a resolution of that appeal. “The project itself can’t be done until [that happens],” he said.
By way of background, after the announcement of a settlement between the town of Hull and the residents of 141 Beach Ave. at last November’s special town meeting allowing the dune to be installed, the Conservation Commission voted unanimously the following evening to allow the creation of a public beach access path as part of the planned dune extension.