Fairfield looks to re-nourish Jennings Beach with dredged channel material
FAIRFIELD — As the town embarks on a much-awaited dredging project, it is hoping to put the results to good use as fodder for Jennings Beach.
At a public hearing Tuesday night, the town submitted a coastal site plan and special permit application to the Plan and Zoning Commission. The permit would allow the town to redirect almost 32,000 cubic yards of material dredged from the South Benson Marina Channel to re-nourish Jennings Beach.
Two years ago, the town approved a $700,000 capital appropriation for the dredging project. The channel poses problems to boats, which can get stuck in low tides and still waters. It was last dredged in 2013, a year after Superstorm Sandy hit.
The problem has only gotten worse since then, requiring a larger-scale dredging project.
“Because boats are getting bigger and have bigger hulls, it’s more critical now,” said Public Works Director Joe Michelangelo.
After being granted the necessary Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) permit, the town is getting ready to finally start dredging the channel. But first, it has to figure out what to do with the dredged material.
After considering various options for disposing of the material, Michelangelo and his team decided that beach re-nourishment would be the most effective use of resources.
This seemed like a natural course of action, seeing as much of the material currently in the South Benson Marina Channel originated at Jennings Beach and has since floated into the marina.
If approved, the dredging and beach re-nourishment projects will begin in November after the boating season has ended and conclude by Jan. 31, 2020.
Michelangelo said that this should allow enough time for the material to be eroded by the waves and blend in with the existing beach material before the beach season begins again next spring.
Unlike the manual sifting process that was employed the last time the beach was re-nourished after Hurricane Sandy, this process will sift the material naturally.
“The sifting process is basically the twice daily tides,” Michelangelo said.
The Plan and Zoning Commission will consider the town’s permit application and vote at its next meeting on Aug. 13.