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Harbors and Waters Board Meeting 1/9/23 - OBSERVER REPORT

HARBORS AND WATERS BOARD:  January 9, 2023, at 7:30 pm via Zoom

LWVM Observer:  Kathy Breslin


Seawall Material Analysis for Hammond Park, MMLD, Marblehead Yacht Club, Commercial Street Pier, and Parkers Boatyard

Ryan McCoy, assistant regional manager for Collins Engineering, presented a summary of the progress to date for the above property seawalls in collaboration with the Woods Hole Group, Coastal Zone Management (CZM), Marblehead Light Department (MMLD), and Salem Sound Coast Watch (SSCW). Phase I occurred from 2019 to 2021 with an assessment of existing conditions.  Analysis was conducted from 2021 to 2022 with some short-term solutions such as MMLD installing flood barriers to protect their basement.  The conceptual plan for 2050 was completed with 25% of the design estimates accomplished so far.

Phase 2 will occur from 2023-2024.  There is a $692,000 budget, partially covered by a $530,000 grant and $200,000 available from Town ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds dedicated specifically for design. From January to June 2023 the design will advance to be 75% complete.  Design objectives for July to December 2023 are:  

  • to mitigate long term risks from sea level rise, storm surge and waves, by raising seawalls, installing wave attenuating floats, and relocating and raising buildings and equipment.  
  • to enhance waterfront public access and recreation, a waterfront parkway, a possible new lift for community boating at Parkers and a conveyer at Commercial Street pier.
  • raise the seawall and the park itself at Hammond Park.
  • restore and raise the seawall at Parkers, raise the boatyard.

Pros and cons of two most popular seawall replacements were discussed, steel sheet pile wall and stacked granite block wall. Projected costs of construction were similar, although maintenance costs of stacked granite were somewhat higher.  The existing seawalls are stacked granite.  The Board voted on using stacked granite block walls given the similar cost and to maintain the character of the harbor. At Hammond Park/MMLD in addition to raising the seawall there will be a reinforced concrete wall around the perimeter of the MMLD parking lot.

The next phase is permitting.  Planned datelines:

  • 1/19/2023 Mass. EPA pre-filing meeting
  • 3/4/2023 Begin environmental Justice outreach process 
  • 5/1/2023 75% design completion, Environmental Notification Form (ENF) draft
  • 5/31/2023 File MEPA and ENF forms
  • MMLD will also weigh in the choice of material for the new seawalls.
  • Work will likely be done in phases.
  • Funding sources can be explored after the environmental impact evaluation is completed.

Budget Discussion and Updates

The Town Finance Department is working on closing out the current fiscal year.  Thatcher Kezer, Town Administrator, recommended using the figure the Board used last year in the interim. He mentioned that the Town’s new budgeting format is “Clear Gov” which is much more robust than the current format.  The Harbors and Waters Board plans their budget discussion at their February meeting.

Harbormaster Report

The Village dock broke away and was found in Kettle Cove in Magnolia, MA.  Dave Haley of Marblehead Marine brought the dock back and will get it back into position.  The Harbormaster’s building has had the boiler replaced after it failed.  The leaking roof at the Marblehead Yacht Club will be getting a temporary repair; it will be replaced in the spring.  There have been a few glitches with the Harbormaster’s new software but, overall, it is very efficient, processing payments for 500 permits in five days, which used to take weeks