Dredging is nearly complete at the Joseph Sylvia State Beach. For much of the fall, the Edgartown dredge has been pumping sand out of Sengekontacket, deepening a channel on the Oak Bluffs side, with the spoils trucked to Cow Bay for beach nourishment.
Norman Rankow, chairman of the dredge committee, said last week that the work in the area is winding down. The dredge will be removed from the pond probably by mid-January.
Meanwhile, beach renourishment continues on the Nantucket Sound side of the barrier beach, Mr. Rankow said, near two of the three exposed wooden groins at the Little Bridge (VFW Memorial Bridge).
When the state recently replaced the bridge, Ed Handy, foreman for the project, said a constricted area of sand cropped up in the pond. The work being done now restores the waterway for not only better flow but to improve navigation.
The bigger project this fall was moving 22,000 cubic yards of sand from the pond to Edgartown. Sand was pumped by pipe across a quarter-mile area to a dewatering spot on the Nantucket Sound side of the beach. From there, using heavy duty equipment and large trucks, the sand was trucked down the road to the Bend in the Road Beach, where it was again trucked to Cow Bay.
Mr. Rankow said the effort to renourish the beach at Cow Bay has now ended and the dredge is not expected to come back to Sengekontacket for a long time, possibly years.
Early this year, the dredge pumped 11,000 cubic yards from Sengekontacket Pond that was placed at the Inkwell and Pay Beaches in Oak Bluffs. In addition, they shipped 25,000 cubic yards to Cow Bay.
Work was delayed this fall when the clutch gave out on the dredge. Mr. Handy said a mechanic from John Keene Construction stepped in to make the repair. The construction company has been the principal player in moving the sand by truck to the different destinations.
Mild weather conditions have been favorable for the work this fall. “The weather has been great. It hasn’t been freezing the whole time. That makes the work far easier,” Mr. Handy said.
Oak Bluffs shellfish constable David Grunden said he is especially appreciative of the work. “My hope is to get Sengekontacket Pond open again to shellfishing in the summer months. The goal is to open up the navigation, but a big part of it is hopefully to increase the circulation in the pond so we can get it open. This dredging project should help the general health of the pond. If anything else, we increased the volume of the pond by removing the sand,” he said.
Looking ahead, Mr. Rankow said the dredge will come out of the pond and be trucked and relaunched in Katama Bay. The next project involves deepening the channel that runs to the Katama boat ramp from the bay. In the future, Mr. Rankow said they would like to do some dredging at the entrance to Cape Pogue Pond.
This is a winter of moving paper too. Mr. Rankow said his committee is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a 10-year plan that repermits past projects and looks to new areas of need.