Pratts Island

Residents concerned about South Beach plan

Posted:  Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 5:00pm
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Although it has yet to begin in earnest, a Pratts Island plan is already garnering attention on the island.

A group that included representatives from Maine Department of Environmental Protection, engineers and biologists met with a group of residents August 15 to discuss a plan that would dredge and modify South Beach.

The plan would install a wall that is level with the downward slope of the beach. Beyond that, the area would be dredged to allow a 29-foot boat to access a dock at all tides. If the project goes through, it would create a 25-foot wide meandering path through the ledges to the dock, which is owned by resident Paul Coulombe.

Some of the outlying ledge close to the dock would need to be blasted.

More than 55 people came to the beach to ask questions or raise concerns about the project, which is in its infancy. If approved, the project would still be several years away.

Georgetown's Bud Brown, President of Eco Analysts, has been overseeing portions of the project and was present to field questions and concerns.

“The whole purpose is all-tide access,” he said. “It will provide access to the float for a 29-foot boat.”

Brown said the design and process would aim to have the lowest impact on the environment both above and below the water.

“In my opinion, you'll never know it's there,” he said. “It will look pretty much the same as it does right now.

“We are putting together an application to send to DEP in a month. We're here today to gather info.”

Some of the concerns raised included safety for swimmers on the beach, the well-being of marine plants and animals, storm protection, and well damage and saltwater intrusion.

Southport's Jennifer Elderkin-Wickline said she thought the equation was out of balance.

“It's all this destruction for one man,” she said. “Rachel Carson would be rolling in her grave.”

One of the recurring concerns was about one of the area's more notable residents: South Beach is a lobster nursery, where many juvenile lobsters congregate on the rocks.

“We've (identified) everything that lives here,” Brown said. “We would try to move all the lobsters that are living there now.”

Brown said the environmental concerns swirl around several different species that inhabit the area, including blood and sand worms, eels and clams, as well as the juvenile lobsters.

The dredging would go down six feet, with an extra foot of what Brown called over-dig. The proposed wall would be 12-inch steel H beams inserted into the rock, installed by Rockland's Prock Marine Company.

Southport's Sarah Sherman said the last time there was blasting in the area it contaminated one of her wells with salt water, and that the considerations of neighbors should be taken.

“This beach is not owned by Paul Coulombe,” she said. “It's owned by Wayne Pratt, and he found out about this meeting last night (Wednesday, Aug. 14).”

As the project progresses, Brown said there will be public meetings and other opportunities for public input.

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 207-633-4620 or bbulkeley@boothbayregister.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BBRegisterBen