SOUTH KINGSTOWN - Matunuck Beach Road property owners filled the town council chamber Tuesday night for a chance to tell Coastal Resource Management Council to do what they should have done 15 years ago: stop coastal erosion along Matunuck Beach.
The Town Council and local state representatives Sen. Susan Sosnowski, Shoreham and Rep. Donna Walsh and representatives for federal senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed met with the CRMC during a work session to discuss solutions to prevent coastal erosion along Matunuck Beach Road that is impacting roads, businesses and residents.
Since 1949, the migration of coastal waters toward the land has threatened to undermine Matunuck Beach Road, where businesses and residences are in jeopardy of being lost. Issues the town council highlighted to the CRMC staff included that since 1998 the town has met with property owners and the CRMC but no long term solutions were ever implemented and problems still persist. The CRMC’s efforts have only consisted of “soft” shoreline protection measures that have been unsuccessful. The town also expressed its concern that the present conditions in Matunuck pose an immediate threat to businesses and residences and further tidal encroachment inland will lead to the degradation of the structural integrity of the wall.
“We’ve been dealing with this issue for 15 years and the erosion in the past 15 years has now further limited options. We have less than 65 feet between where the water mark is and the road,” town manager Steven A. Alfred said amidst loud supportive applause from the crowd. “If that road is compromised, we’d have no emergency access. We have to look at how we protect the village and existing businesses there. The longer we take the options become less and less.”
While the CRMC staff outlined several long term options for the town and its property owners, which were presented in a Feb. 18 preliminary meeting with the town representatives, the town and residents became frustrated with the inflexibility of the CRMC. For each option, the town is faced with regulations for taking the full measures to protect Matunuck Beach Road.
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