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|Officials approve beach lease increase|
|Written by Susanna Sheehan|
|Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:22|
Duxbury selectmen have agreed to support a $200,000 increase for the Duxbury beach lease, saying the money will be classified as a one-time expense this year to cover storm damage from the February blizzard and will come from the town’s free cash account. The lease agreement is a warrant article and residents can vote on it at the March 9 town meeting.
The town has paid $400,000 to lease the beach from its owners, Duxbury Reservation Inc., for many years, but recently the Reservation asked the town for an extra $200,000 to help cover the cost of storm damage repair.
Reservation president Margaret Kearney addressed the Board of Selectmen two weeks ago about the damage to the beach and the lease price hike. The Reservation owns most of the six-mile long barrier beach and leases it to the town for the public’s use.
On Monday, Al Vautrinot, representing the Duxbury Reservation Inc., told selectmen that the damage to the beach will cost at least $500,000. The Reservation must replace five miles of snow fence and rebuild 10,000 feet of sacrificial dune, which is the high land in the middle of the beach.
Designed by the Army Corp of Engineers in 1990, the sacrificial dune’s purpose is to prevent the ocean from breaching, or washing away, the beach. It worked, said Vautrinot, although water did wash through the dune in as many as eight places. Rebuilding the sacrificial dune is important to Duxbury, Vautrinot said, because if the beach were to be breached, it would affect the entire town’s coastline.
“It’s important that we get this fixed as fast as we can,” he said.
Adding $200,000 to the cost of the beach lease comes at a price to the town’s reserves. Both Town Manager Richard MacDonald and Finance Director John Madden were unhappy with the timing of the request. They met with the Reservation and town officials recently to discuss the best way to find the money.
“We will supply the $200,000 to the beach. We will make the adjustments to the FY2014 budget,” said MacDonald. “I’m disappointed because our budgets are in place but it’s a no win situation and no one could have predicted what this storm would do to the beach.”
Madden was unhappy that he was asked to rework the FY14 operating budget, which residents will approve at the upcoming March 9 town meeting.
“I have been approached to manipulate my numbers and I wouldn’t do that. I find that insulting,” said Madden. “There are options,” he added.
Selectmen voted 2-0 to support the increased price of the beach lease with the extra coming from free cash. Free cash is used mainly for capital budget items and unforeseen, one-time expenses. Selectman Shawn Dahlen recused himself from the vote because he is a member of the Duxbury Reservation.