New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
$770K grant will help preserve Madison seawall
MADISON — A $770,000 state grant, earmarked for repairs to the town’s seawall, will help preserve the region’s coastline, a problem that became all the more urgent during the recent tropical storm.
The funding will allow Madison to address the issue before it gets out of hand, according to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who gathered with state and local leaders Friday afternoon at Garvan Point Beach.
State Rep. John-Michael Parker, D-Madison, First Selectman Peggy Lyons, and other officials attended the event.
Further issues could have occurred as a result of Tropical Storm Henri, but the area was spared significant damage, she said.
“I think, especially with the close call we had last weekend, it’s very clear our beaches are threatened,” Bysewicz said.
Madison will soon receive the state money, which requires matching funds, for coastal resilience and beach restoration efforts. The project will kick off with a replacement of the seawall. Work is estimated to cost $1.5 million.
“The current sea wall is insufficient,” Bysewicz said. “It will eventually fail.”
Even before the recent threat tropical storms have posed, the project was considered to be badly needed, Lyons said. For at least the past five years, it was part of the town’s capital plan, but unforeseen issues and increasing costs prevented it from happening, she said.
“It’s been a recognition that we need to handle these things now,” Lyons said.
In fact, the town had already taken steps toward starting the project. A contractor was hired to assess options and Coastal Resiliency Commission was formed in 2019.
Graham Curtis, an engineer and vice chairman of the commission, said that so far, this is the most important issue the group has experienced. “It’s the first of many projects that are coming,” he said.
The preliminary plan includes replacing the nearly 50-year-old steel wall that surrounds Garvan Point with a new concrete one. “We figured it was the most durable,” Curtis said.
The planning work is only just beginning, he added.
A section of the upcoming federal infrastructure bill will allot money to coastline resilience efforts, Bysewicz said, and Madison and other towns can apply for these funds when they are made available.
Lyons expressed excitement that work is finally underway. “We’re thrilled that we’re getting going,” she said.
She emphasized the importance of preserving the environment, especially when the space is also heavily used by the community. She called Garvan Point and the surrounding area a “treasure” for past and, hopefully, future generations. During the height of the pandemic, it was used as a safe public gathering space, she added.
“It’s one of Madison’s town jewels,” Lyons said.
Bysewicz echoed that sentiment. “It draws people from all over,” the lieutenant governor said. “It brings people to downtown Madison.”
Afterward, Bysewicz and Lyons toured small businesses downtown, then checked out the new $15 million renovation at E.C. Scranton Public Library.