GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 31, 2013

Essex revisits need for river work

ESSEX — After getting a proposal from an engineering firm, town officials are considering asking voters at a special town meeting this fall for money to study the removal of encroachments along the Essex River, with an eye toward dredging the river.

The proposal, by GZA GeoEnvironmental Associates Inc. of Norwood, looks to survey piles, floats and other encroachments in the federal channel of the Essex River from the land and local marinas. From there, the engineers would issue a report and meet with stakeholders, marina owners, and town officials to discuss how to remove the encroachments, by moving the federal channel itself or moving the encroachments.

The total cost for the study, should it be presented and get approved at a special town meeting, would be about $26,990.

Monday night, selectmen discussed the idea of having Perkins, Pike and Wise marinas in Essex contribute toward the total cost of the study.

“Their input on the scope (of the encroachment study) is going to be helpful also,” Selectmen Lisa O’Donnell said.

The most expensive portion of the study, $7,350, is pegged for the actual survey of the land and marinas.

O’Donnell added that if the cost of the study was decreased, it would have a better chance getting voter approval in November.

The study would also measure the shape of the seabed and water levels.

Selectmen proposed a similar article at the Annual Town Meeting last May, asking voters at that time to back a $50,000 encroachment study, and voters shot down the measure.

The end goal would be to have the river dredged; the proposal cites a study done in 2008 by the Army Corps of Engineers which pointed out encroachment and shoal issues. And the Army Corps of Engineers is not likely to fund a project with so many encroachments, according to the proposal.

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