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Oak Bluffs seeks Corps permit to place fill to protect coastal banks, restore public beaches in Oak Bluffs

Published April 16, 2019

CONCORD, Mass. – The town of Oak Bluffs is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with protecting coastal banks and restoring public beaches in Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. This work is in the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound along the shoreline of Oak Bluffs along Sea View Avenue Extension and Sea View Avenue.


The town proposes to conduct work and place fill material in waters of the U.S. in order to provide protection to the existing coastal banks and public/private infrastructure, and restore public beaches for recreational purposes. The project work can be separated into two phases. The first phase of the work commenced in January 2016 and work was substantially completed over six months ending in July 2016.


The town of Oak Bluffs is seeking an after-the-fact permit to retain the structures and fill that were constructed as a part of this phase. This includes the placement of a 550-linear-foot sheet pile bulkhead (1,055 square feet) directly seaward of the existing concrete seawall footing (located approximately two feet seaward of the top of the existing concrete wall) and a 120-foot section of sheet piles for the ADA accessible ramp access to the beach area, totaling 670 linear feet.


Upon completion of the construction of the shoreline stabilization measures, the town constructed a 560-linear-foot (6,720 square feet) wooden boardwalk on top of the seawall. The boardwalk is approximately 12 feet wide. Additional work to stabilize the shoreline included the re-construction of an existing 760 linear feet (6,679 square feet) of stone revetment immediately waterward of the HTL. The construction of the revetment involved the placement of 1,806 cubic yards of stone revetment. Finally, a 250-square-foot stairway and landing were constructed 18 square feet below HTL at the southern limits of the project during the spring of 2016 in order to provide safe public access to the water.


In order to further protect the shoreline and enhance the recreational beach, the town of Oak Bluffs is proposing in Phase 2 a large scale beach nourishment and groin maintenance and rehabilitation project. The work will extend into the intertidal zone and seaward of the currently authorized Inkwell and Pay Beach nourishment projects permitted for sediment placement. Beach nourishment of engineered profiles will be completed and maintained at Jetty, North Bluff, Pay, and Inkwell Beaches. Additionally, seven timber groins, previously constructed in the mid-1900s that are currently not serviceable will be reconstructed along the beaches. In addition to the construction of the timber groins, one stone groin at Inkwell will be modified to optimize the stability of the shoreline system and minimize the frequency of future beach maintenance events.


The Phase 2 work includes: approximately 34,975 cubic yards of sand will be placed along 3,950 linear feet of shoreline (a 283,261-square-foot area); 216,676 square feet of the total area is located below the high tide line at Jetty Beach (1,587 square feet), North Bluff (94,981 square feet), Pay Beach (43,291 square feet), and Inkwell Beach (76,817 square feet).


The previously completed work impacted more than 0.5 acre of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consisted of revetment stone and sandy intertidal substrate. This proposed project will have an adverse effect on approximately 5.25 acres of EFH. This habitat consists of sand. Loss of these habitats may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. The Corps has made a preliminary determination that site-specific impacts may be substantial. Accordingly, the Corps will submit an expanded EFH assessment to National Marine Fisheries Service, who in turn will provide conservation recommendations to the Corps. The Corps will coordinate with the applicant regarding implementation of these recommendations. The EFH consultation will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.


The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.; and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which regulates the discharge or fill of material in U.S. waters, including wetlands. The public notice, with more specifics on the work proposed by the town of Oak Bluffs, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.


Public comments on this work proposed by the town of Oak Bluffs (file # NAE-2016-00293) should be forwarded no later than May 16, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Joshua Helms), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Joshua Helms at 978-318-8211 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: joshua.m.helms@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 19-030