No more short-term solutions

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 8:30pm

If you were about to build a house for $1.8 million and your contractor said, “Oh, she’ll be good for the next 15 or 20 years, weather permitting,” would you consider the project a good investment? Would you bother?

But that’s the proposal before the Town of New Shoreham regarding a new revetment designed to contain the junk seeping out of the shoreline at the old town landfill at West Beach: A $1.8 million project designed to last 15 or 20 years, weather permitting.

The stuff now exposed on the shoreline — and whatever else is buried in that fenced-off plot of land located behind the current transfer station — is not just an eyesore but damaging to the environment. Given that, doing nothing is not an option. We’re also not saying that the revetment is badly designed or will not be up to the task it is designed to address. It’s good to see that the plan calls for removing the detritus that is uncovered when the existing slope is excavated, but it is too bad there was not more thought put into how more of that junk could be removed. The exposure of this trash at this site dates back to at least Superstorm Sandy in 2013, so there have been five years to think about how to combat the issue. 

Yes, doing something is better than nothing. But the challenges of shoreline erosion, sea level rise, and storm surges are not going away, and therefore it is becoming increasingly important for this island to continue thinking of more innovative, long-term, and cost-effective measures to combat these extraordinary challenges. In the scheme of things, this revetment project is a decidedly short-term solution.