Selectmen approve beach maintenance group to protect Wareham's assets

By Lydia Goerner | Sep 26, 2017

Wareham beaches are about to have a new task force in charge of upkeep, which could help Wareham receive more grants for beach maintenance.

At Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan suggested forming a group, led by town officials, that would be in charge of the nourishment and maintenance of beaches in town. The group would make plans for upkeep of beaches that could be used in applying for state and federal grants.

Currently, there is no specific group in charge of beach maintenance.

“This is grouping everybody together to pull in one direction,” Sullivan said. He asked for the approval of selectmen in this endeavor.

Sullivan said there were some revisions to the beach maintenance plan made in 2014 that have not been followed that will allow more maintenance to be done. Beach maintenance will help the town protect its assets and be prepared for any future hurricanes, Sullivan said.

Selectman Alan Slavin agreed a plan for the beaches will be beneficial in applying to grants.

“People with beachfront properties are losing their beaches,” Slavin said. “Wareham is a summer resort area...if we don’t protect our assets, we’re going to lose it all.”

Selectman Judith Whiteside said the issue is not so dire.

“Erosion, runoff, changing of landscape is part of nature,” Whiteside said. “Trying to change Mother Nature’s mind doesn’t work.”

Whiteside said coastal areas will change regardless of beach maintenance efforts.

“You don’t sneeze into the wind unless you expect to get it back in your face,” Whiteside said.

Though the beach maintenance may be a short-term solution, it is still necessary, Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum said.

“How successful is it long term? God only knows,” Teitelbaum said. “But you’re never going to know if you don’t make the effort.”

With the approval of the Board of Selectmen, Sullivan said he will be assembling a group in charge of beach maintenance in the near future.

Comments (13)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 27, 2017 16:40

As long as our over zealous Conservation Commission doesn't stand in the way, this sounds like a good thing.





Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 27, 2017 19:43

Selectman Whiteside needs to research the history of our beaches.  She is correct when it comes to natural erosion of natural beaches.  However, many of Wareham's beaches are not natural and must be nourished or they will be gone.  Take Swift's for example. Many years ago all that sand was placed over marsh.  Swifts is man-made.  It used to be marsh. Swift's will eventually return to being marsh because the sand has been going away over the decades.  It is already happening at Swifts Neck. Notice the marsh becoming exposed in between the beach and the water.  That wasn't there as recently as the 1980s.  I can recall in my lifetime when there was much more sand on Swift's.  So much that it covered the jetties.  The jetties were there before the sand was placed.  Now they are all exposed.  Especially the one between Pleasant and Bayview.  [BTW, those are incorrectly called jetties, they are actually groins.  A jetty is constructed parallel to water flow to stop depositing of fines at the mouth of a canal or river.  Where a groin is constructed perpendicular to a shoreline to trap sand from moving up & down the shore.]  Also proving how much sand is gone was that huge sewer pipe at the Barnes Street end.  As a boy in the late 70s I recall the end of it just peeking out of the sand way far down at the low tide line.  Year after year, section by section, that long corrugated pipe became exposed, broke apart, and finally it disconnected all the way up at the manhole.  Probably over 100 feet of pipe.  Several feet of sand was above that pipe. It was covered with several feet of added sand that is now gone.  Swift's was made to serve the cottages and vacationers.  I don't know the exact timeframe but I'll guess 1940s.  Before that it was marsh riverfront like the way it looks as it transitions to marsh heading over to Marks Cove.


Google Earth only goes back to the 1990s and its really poor quality until after 2000 or so.  Check out the historic imagery option.  One can see how much Swifts has receded over the years.  At high tide there is not much beach to sit on anymore.


Swift's could use a few thousand yards of sand to return it to what it was.  Not to mention how adding to the beach will protect the waterfront from storms.


Parkwood, Pinehurst, Hamilton, etc probably have similar history.  Then there's private beaches in front of individual homes.  Sand fairies take care of mine at midnight on moonless nights.  I'm grateful for those fairies because they don't have to ask for Conservation's permission and contend with grain size analysis and unrealistic things like that. Those little buggers just make the beach beautiful and safe for everybody without any delay or complication.

Posted by: Rosebud | Sep 28, 2017 10:46

I agree with WBTS in that the beach at Swift's is disappearing.  This was a beautiful, BUSY beach in the 60s and 70s.  I blamethe Town for it not being such today, because we have the same water but NO traffic as communities over the bridges (Advertising slogan??).  But we no longer have life guards, and I'm not sure how often the beach is cleaned. We also had amenities like a hot dog stand and changing facilities at one time (I believe Hurricane Bob wiped those out.)

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 28, 2017 16:10

Hurricane Bob certainly wiped out the hot dog stand and the changing facility and everything except the concrete pad!  I remember on the eve of Hurricane Bob, the guys running the hot dog stand had a gathering down there.  It was fun.  There was music and laughter and a sense of community.  Then, less than 24 hours later it was all washed away clean!  Some of the heavier stuff like refrigeration units and a Glastron fiberglass boat owned by one of the guys ended up back by the sewer pump house.  Everything else was wood and was torn apart and just floated away.

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Sep 28, 2017 17:00

Yup the old Hot Dog Stand ... Friday night dances lol ...  Yes we are losing beach ... Also losing beach to sea grass

Posted by: bob | Sep 28, 2017 18:51

Now, if someway that they can get to use the CPA FUNDS to dredge the river and use the sand to  replenish those beaches..

Posted by: Rosebud | Sep 29, 2017 10:47

I simply cannot understand how a town that proclaims itself the "gateway to Cape Cod" could let its beaches--its biggest assets--be neglected so as to lose tourists and rental income.  I sincerely hope this new task force has some older residents who remenber how things were and work to restore our beaches to their former status.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Sep 29, 2017 11:13

Problem is with the environmental whackos that have made dredging and beach replenishment so costly and time consuming. The sand from the beach has moved and is most likely filling in the channels. If the sand granules are not of a certain size they cannot be dredged and placed back of the beach from where they came. There is also a problem with Nimby neighbors that want the beaches to themselves and fight making things enjoyable for the general public. Onset is full of them.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 29, 2017 21:44

The BOS should order the Conservation Commission to lift their restrictive regulations regarding sanding of beaches for all projects associated with this group.

Posted by: bob | Sep 29, 2017 22:40

,I would think that since the channel in the Wareham River is not navigation safe,  the channel must have gotten that sand from somewhere,and I  would say it was from the beaches..So I would say that sand is most likely just like what was on the beaches ..Dredge the channel and put the sand back on public beaches..Use CPA FUNDS

Posted by: WWreader | Sep 30, 2017 08:10

Do your research. Sea levels are rising. Put more sand on the beach, the next year high tides, nor easters, hurricanes wash it back out. For people who complain about wasting money, there you go. Should we maintain what we have. Sure, but I don't like seeing my money washed away to sea anymore than I like seeing it wasted anywhere else. A good maintenance program is necessary, but it needs to be well thought out.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 30, 2017 09:25

Hydraulic suction dredging being used to pump sand back up onto beaches isn't always feasible or the best way.  What about simply trucking it in and dumping it?  Cost per yard is likely less.


Sure it washes away.  That may seem like a waste to some.  But it's not much different than plowing snow.  My taxes pay to plow roads that I don't drive on and then it all just melts.  So why should I pay? Sounds silly, but think about that.  Thousands and thousands of dollars are spent to plow thousands and thousands of pounds of snow that is all just going to melt.

Posted by: bob | Oct 01, 2017 07:45

WBTS,Good example ,if you don't maintain things from beaches to roads they just fall apart.And that is happening big time in this town...This is resort community and you don't maintain the beaches people wont come here...USE CPA FUNDS ...

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