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Factor in Higher Tides For Erosion Control

Options to deal with erosion at Latham Park in Barrington are expected to go before the Town Council in early fall; rising tides, soil composition will have major impact.

Several options to deal with the erosion at Latham Park in Bay Spring -- with their price tags -- are expected to be presented to the Barrington Town Council in September.

Those options will need to take into account the continuing rise in sea level -- a 3- to 5-foot rise by 2100, said project manager Andy Lipsky, of Barrington. Lipsky is a senior scientist for ocean planning and ecosystem restoration at EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., the consultant hired by the town to come up with solutions.

In short, the rise in sea level, which has been happening since 1939, will mean higher high tides and the potential for more damage from storm surge.

The erosion-control options also must consider that the park sits on top of soil dredged from Narragansett Bay and dumped there in 1958, Lipsky said.

“The composition of the soil is a big factor,” he said. “We must remember that this was a coastal lagoon, and this is a man-made shoreline. We need to understand that first.”

EA Engineering was hired by the Town Council to come up with feasible solutions to erosion before it authorizes any improvements to the park, including the construction of a new playground that served as a catalyst for launching the erosion study. See Patch story.

Pages of data and information on the park have been pulled together by EA Engineering and posted on the Barrington website. Lipsky describes that information as a preliminary assessment. Town Planner Phil Hervey describes the assessment as “a snapshot of the park that provides a historical perspective” that will help develop the options.

Lipsky and Hervey also held a public workshop at the park last week to come up with community concerns. Approximately 20-25 people attended.

“EA representatives walked the area and got feedback from the neighbors,” said Hervey.

Lipsky, who moved to Shore Drive near Latham Park last November, said he learned that his neighbors and other residents in that neighborhood are anxious to get this work done.

“They said: ‘Why study it’?” he said. “Why not fix it?”

Compiling as much information about the park as possible is necessary to come up with the right solution, Lipsky said, such as the fact that it is made up of dredge spoils that filled in the lagoon that was once used as a swimming hole.

Maintaining access to the shoreline by people also is a major concern, both Lipsky and Hervey said. That could mean moving the parking lot or reducing it in size for a walking area, they said.

“We want a park that works,” said Hervey.

“We need to build in resiliency,” Lipsky said. “The park must be adapted to the area.”

Lipsky said EA Engineering's work is far from done. He plans to schedule several other public workshops with Hervey over the next couple of months before going before the Town Council with erosion-control options.

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