Although this week's meeting on sea wall repairs helped bring many neighborhood concerns into the forefront, it was just a first step toward addressing Quincy's coastal problems.
The intent of Tuesday's gathering was mainly to hear the timeline for the Edgewater Drive sea wall fixes, approximately $4.5 million in repairs that will be funded from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Currently, those fixes are on schedule, with development for 25 percent of the design under way, and with the permitting process set to begin.
It’s a significantly smaller amount than the one recommended by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which said a total replacement of the wall would cost approximately $30 million.
Rather than replace the entire seawall, engineers have focused on a 3,000-foot stretch that they say is the most critical.
Although it’s not as big of a change, “this is going to have significant improvement to the Edgewater wall,” said Ward One Councilor Margaret Laforest, who helped host Tuesday’s meeting at Broad Meadows Elementary School. “They are doing some other things, doing a new approach, rather than a [whole] new wall.”
The repairs should be a long-term solution that DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi said “will stand the test of time and the battering of the tides for the foreseeable future.”
Although one section of the city’s sea wall is being addressed, residents remained concerned about sea walls elsewhere in the city.
To address those concerns, Tighe & Bond, the city’s sea wall engineer, is conducting $500,000 of assessments of all of Quincy sea walls, a project to be completed by mid-November.
It will become the basis for a plan to fix numerous problems going forward – some of which residents were advocating for last night.
Some residents would like to see sea walls in their area that currently have none, Laforest said. Others need stopgap repairs for the immediate future. Regardless of the concern, the engineer will be evaluating all areas of the coast.
“It’s a good time to listen to their concerns,” Laforest said. “The contractor assured them that at low tide, they will be walking the whole area by foot, and I think people needed to hear that – we are the consultants, the experts, we know what we’re looking for. Point out things, but we will see it.”
The sea wall analysis will also assess which sea walls are privately owned, and which the city are responsible for.
“Waterfront homeowners are saying is 'Where has the maintenance been?' Kudos to the mayor to figure out what we are responsible for, and what is the major need,” Laforest said.
Laforest said she hopes the discussion on sea walls and coastal concerns will be the beginning of a coastal committee.
“There was a lot of good conversation on what’s being seen,” Laforest said. “It’s important to us to also establish a coastal commission and look at things from the waterside in and review the coastal infrastructure – it means boat ramps, tide gates…all the pieces. But this is a fantastic start and one that has been long needed.”
Although such a committee is a ways off, Raymondi said the city was adamant about spending money on infrastructure for the future.
“The mayor and the council deserve a lot of credit in being proactive and addressing these infrastructure needs that often they don’t get the attention they deserve, and I think the community appreciates that,” Raymondi said.
If there is money left in either sea wall appropriation – currently totaling $5 million, it would be spent on future design and construction.
If not, there is always additional hotel/motel tax revenue that might possibly be allocated to these types of endeavors in the future.
“We don’t stop and do nothing because we can't do everything. We do what we can with the allocations we have,” he said. “But at least we’ll have a professionally designed, structured game plan [with which] we can move forward.”
For more FAQ about seawall repairs, click here.