It was with great interest that we learned last week that the US Army Corps of Engineers had been in contact with the town’s historical commission to get their two cents on the proposal to spread thousands of cubic yards of sand along Town Neck Beach.
The project, often referred to as beach renourishment, aims to quell the hunger of Sandwich’s sand-starved barrier.
The Corps is nearing the end of a study that will determine what most of us have known for years: that the federally owned and managed jetties at the east end of the canal are the root cause of Town Neck’s critical erosion troubles.
The final report is due out by summer’s end.
The report is also expected to spell out exactly what the federal government is prepared to do to rectify the situation, both in the short and long term. But whatever else is part of the solution, Town Neck will need to be treated to an initial sand feast.
And that’s what archaeologist Marc Paiva contacted the commission about. He wanted to know if the commissioners were concerned about any historical artifacts that could be harmed by the deposit of all that sand.
Specifically, he asked about a brickyard dating back to the early 1800s that was eventually purchased by Deming Jarves and used to supply the bricks for his Boston and Sandwich Glass Company factory buildings.
Remnants of the old kiln and some of the bricks were exposed by recent beach erosion.
While the old kiln and a few other remnants of the old factory that have turned up due to the erosion are interesting and historically significant to a certain extent, the commissioners decided that the renourishment of the beach was far more important than trying to preserve these few slivers of Sandwich’s past.
It was the right decision. Frankly, it was really the only decision.
The shrinking beach is the single barrier that stands between the waves and floodwaters of Cape Cod Bay and the homes—some historic, some not—that populate Jarvesville and the other low-lying neighborhoods along that stretch of coastline.
If the beach goes, the marsh as we know it would be lost. Many historic assets as far inland as Sandwich’s historic town hall would be at dire risk from storm surges.
Far more than a brick kiln would be lost if nothing is done to shore up that beach.
Every town board, committee, and commission—in fact, every resident —should stand united in support of this beach renourishment project. Let the Corps know that enough time has been spent studying this project. It’s time for action. Our beach can’t withstand too many more beatings from Mother Nature.