Six towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard have been awarded $700,000 in state grants to reduce the risks of coastal storms, flooding, erosion and sea level rise.
“It’s recognition of the times really,” Matthew Beaton, secretary of the Executive Officer of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said. “We do face significant challenges with the threat of a changing climate. Investments like this are essential to preserving the integrity and natural beauty of our coastal environment.”
The grants, awarded by the state Office of Coastal Zone Management, were announced Friday morning in Winthrop by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Cape and Vineyard towns receiving the money include Barnstable, Brewster, Dennis, Edgartown, Falmouth and Sandwich.
“These grants are part of our administration’s commitment to helping the Commonwealth’s cities and towns address the impacts of coastal storms and the effects of a changing climate in new, innovative and effective ways,” Polito said.
More than $2.2 million in grants were announced statewide; the Cape and Vineyard towns accounted for nearly one-third of them.
Brewster is receiving the largest local grant of $159,000 to determine the vulnerability of natural resources to flooding and erosion.
Chris Miller, director of the town’s natural resources department, said the town plans to hire a facilitator to determine the risks from the public’s point of view and how they want to move forward.
“This came at a good time for us. We’re trying to step up and be ahead of the curve when it comes to climate change,” Miller said. “We want to react now rather than fix what’s damaged in future storms.”
The towns of Sandwich and Barnstable will share $158,000. That money will be used to study the volume, rate and direction of sand moving along the shoreline from the Cape Cod Canal to the easterly side of Barnstable Harbor.
Experts believe the northern jetty of the canal is choking off the supply of sand to Town Neck Beach, Spring Hill Beach and, ultimately, Sandy Neck. Instead, the sand continues to collect at Scusset Beach on the northern side of the canal.
“It would tie in really well with a grant we got last year to permit a sand borrow site,” Sandwich Town Manager George “Bud” Dunham said.
It may also help to support a study underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on whether the federal government bears some responsibility for the erosion problems caused by the jetty.
Barnstable is getting another $148,500 to study wind and wave forces affecting the Sandy Neck shoreline and how that’s putting the bath house, septic system and parking lot in jeopardy.
“This is a first step,” Nina Coleman, park manager at Sandy Neck, said. “It’s the typical problem. The coastline wants to move back and we have our infrastructure right there. … They’re all perched on the coast and Mother Nature isn’t putting up with it anymore.”
With the money, Sandy Neck Beach Park will hire a consultant to look at possible solutions, Coleman said. Once a solution is settled on with public input, design and permits will be sought. “That will bring us to the point of looking for funds to do the construction,” she said.
Falmouth is getting $120,000 for a beach restoration effort at Chapoquoit Beach; Dennis will receive $73,125 to evaluate erosion issues at Dr. Bottero Road and Chapin Beach; and Edgartown’s share is $62,250 for beach nourishment and dune restoration at Fuller Street Beach.
In awarding the grants, the state looked at areas most affected and where the money would do the most good, Beaton said.
“I have come down to the Cape and I’ve seen a lot of the effects of these intense winter storms on the coastline of the Cape,” Beaton said. “We’re happy to help in some way.”