Sand to stay on Rogers Street boat ramp

Nov 18, 2020

Nature has won — for now — as sand buildup on the newly refurbished Rogers St. boat ramp will be left for the time being to focus on safety issues with erosion on a neighboring pier, according to town officials.

Last year, a grant from oil spill recovery money was used to build the ramp, which provides access for boats into Clark’s Cove. It replaced a rudimentary access point that was covered in sand and rocks.

The new ramp is also covered in sand and rocks — rendering it essentially useless, according to Waterways Management Commission member Andy Herlihy, who runs the neighboring Community Boating Center.

Officials discussed the issues at a Nov. 17 Waterways Management Commission meeting, where member Patricia Sweriduk noted that Environmental Affairs Coordinator Marc Garrett had previously explained why sand continues to build up on the ramp.

It’s nature,” Sweriduk said simply. “There’s nothing that can be done about that.”

“That sand is just going to keep building up there,” she added. “It has for years.”

But the commission’s main focus wasn’t on removing the sand.

“I’m more concerned with property damage from runoff and safety factors from rocks and cement that will be hazards,” Herlihy noted at the meeting. 

Runoff from construction further up the hill on Rogers St. has been eroding rocks at the base of the CBC pier and creating a sort of swale in the natural berm formed by the piles of sand and rocks, officials said.

Harbormaster Steve Melo stated that the runoff is “undermining the base of the wall” at the boating center. 

Sweriduk commented on the swale, “It’s a little dangerous for the kids.”

“Somebody’s gonna twist their ankle on that,” agreed Commission vice chair Roger Race.

Race noted that the runoff changed direction after the town recently repaved Rogers St. 

Before that, the runoff would always go off to the right, and would sort of help clean off the ramp,” he said. “Now it goes off to the left, and will probably be deleterious to the stonework that is there.”

He suggested redoing the tarmac to force the water in a different direction.

“Short term, we’re gonna put something in place to sort of redirect it a bit,” said Herlihy.

He added that he plans to speak with officials from New Bedford — the city line runs right through the area in question — to try to get them involved in a solution.

As for the ramp itself, commission member Geoff Marshall asked, “If there’s a safety hazard now, should we shut it down?”

“The good news is that there’s so much sand there now that it’s not even functioning,” Herlihy responded wryly. “It’s a beach.”

“As for boat launching, we can make do with whatever,” he added. “We’ll figure that out.”