Victoria Beach Residents to Get Sea Wall

Victoria Beach residents have gained approval to construct a living seawall, creating a more natural buffer to replace the previous structure that was wiped out by Tropical Storm Irene.
Victoria Beach residents have gained approval to construct a living seawall, creating a more natural buffer to replace the previous structure that was wiped out by Tropical Storm Irene.

Residents of the Victoria Beach condominium community will get the sea wall they want-and need-to protect their homes from damage from future storms. The design of the structure will also set an example that may be adopted up and down the Connecticut shoreline.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, Jr., State Senator Len Fasano, and State Representative James Albis announced Jan. 24 that the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has approved the plan for the building of a "living" sea wall.

Construction, which will be paid for by the condominium owners, is expected to begin in April.

"We are here today to talk about saving Victoria Beach," said Maturo. Without "working and pressuring" the DEEP, it would have been another year until the sea wall project was approved, added Maturo.

The condominium owners had been asking for DEEP permission to rebuild the damaged berm that protected their property from major storms since Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011. Fasano said there is no FEMA insurance for sea walls or berms.

After Superstorm Sandy hit last year, the condo association asked for help from Maturo, Fasano, and Albis to cut through red tape with the DEEP and receive approval.

"When we were hit by Tropical Storm Irene, the buffer in front of Victoria Beach-half of it was gone," said Fasano. "When Sandy came in, it brought erosion up to the units. We then got attention from DEEP.

"We're in a new era," Fasano said, adding that the question of this "new era is how are we going to protect our shoreline? We need to cut the red tape."

Fasano explained that the project is "creating a living shoreline," which he called the first of its kind in Connecticut.

"We're taking rocks, sand, and sea grass to create a natural buffer against Nor'easters," said Fasano, noting that DEEP granted its approval in 45 days.

"You can do this any place in the state of Connecticut," added Fasano. "But it's going to depend on the DEEP meeting with folks and pushing the process through."

Albis noted that the living shoreline "is an important theory to expand across the state. There are different solutions for different areas of the coast. It's important for people to know their options."

The message Maturo, Fasano, and Albis wanted to communicate to state residents was "to say to people along the shoreline, you have options. Living sea walls are an option," said Fasano.

"Without this project, we wouldn't survive another storm," said Patric Marchitto, president of the condo association.

Marchitto said the condo owners overwhelming voted in favor of the project. He said the project will go out to bid and has to be completed by summer.

Liz Townsend, a member of the condo board, said local leaders were very helpful in helping residents "navigate through the system."

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