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Delay in repairing Scituate seawall stirs controversy

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 21, 2012 02:23 PM

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Brennan Replacement Deck w Errosion (parallel view) Aug 2012 IMG_20120910_082816.jpg

photo courtesy of Dan Farrington

A newly erected deck alongside the seawall repair could prove for further delays, one neighbor says.

More than a year and a half after the seawall breached on Turner Road in Scituate, the damage has yet to be permanently repaired.

Stones and rock debris were put in as a temporary stopper for the hole in the wall that was damaged by a storm in December 2010, and the structure has remained that way through last year’s temperamental fall and winter weather.

With hurricane season quick on the heels of another summer, residents are increasingly concerned about the security of their waterfront.

“Plenty of time has been allotted for coordinated planning, and we are now nearing the two-year anniversary date of the seawall breach itself,” said homeowner Dan Farrington, who owns property right behind the seawall breach. “I have concerns that the ongoing delays are putting the abutting homes and surrounding neighborhood at continued and/or greater risk.”

According to Farrington in an e-mail, the area has also seen significant erosion, and numerous neighbors are concerned that repair delays might jeopardize the stability of the existing seawall.

Farrington’s frustration grew after the town took an easement for a portion of his property in May, with the expectation that repairs would begin in the following weeks.

Although Farrington said he was blamed for most of the delay, almost four months have passed since the town gained his easement and the riprap remains in place in the seawall.

“Every other week when I follow up, the project just seems to keep getting pushed out and the same message communicated,” Farrington said.

Scituate’s town engineer blames complications in getting the work started following the initial delay in getting the easement to Farrington’s property.

Funding for the repair has been available since early 2011, when $500,000 was appropriated by the town to fix the seawall. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has also supplied approximately $60,000 for the fix.

In July 2011, the town hired Coastline Engineering to evaluate the seawall breach, spending $27,000 to analyze the 60-foot breach and solicit repair advice.

Work moved steadily for some time. The town secured approvals from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and sent out easement requests to residents in October 2011.

However, the town ran into problems securing one of the three easements necessary to do the work, as Farrington did not feel that the fix would have any benefit to him.

According to Kevin Cafferty, Scituate’s town engineer, that has been the main reason for the delay.

“We had two easements … and the third resident we needed to take the land by eminent domain. If I had my choice, we would have done this project awhile ago, but we had to take the land, go through Town Meeting, and then also a selectmen’s meeting not too long ago,” Cafferty said. “The lawyers have to file all the paperwork. We’re lucky we almost didn’t miss again because of that factor.”

Selectmen unanimously voted to take the easement in late May 2012. Although the construction was estimated to begin within the following six weeks, no work has yet started.

The main reason has been difficulty getting all of the materials ready and in place, Cafferty said.

“The contractor is ready to start work, but one of the requirements is a galvanized rebar, which has a big lead time, and we’re not letting him take down the wall until we know that rebar is fabricated, so he can start it all at once,” Cafferty said.

At this point, the start time is looking to be sometime in the next two weeks. From there, the work will take six to eight weeks to complete.

“The problem we have is, if we wait till late in the year, you can’t pour the concrete because of the weather. It’s a tricky situation; if you do it in the summer you make it miserable for a lot of people. The other issue if you wait too long in the season, the concrete doesn’t set up correctly. You need the temp to be proper so it doesn’t freeze,” Cafferty said. “We can do it in the fall. [It’s] just the way the schedule worked out, by the time all the materials will be ready. We don’t want to open the wall up until we have everything all set ready to go.”

Meanwhile, a resident has also erected a deck in the area of the repair, which the contractor will try to work around, Cafferty said. If not, the deck will be removed.

Farrington said the uncertainty over the deck has caused him further worry.

“[There could be] further delays if it becomes a legal matter for resolve from town counsel,” Farrington said. “At this point, they should know exactly what options exist with the encroaching deck and know how capable the contractor is -- can [he] work around it or not?”

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