Stonington considers options for repairing historic breakwater

Stonington — An engineering firm presented the town this week with a list of alternatives for repairing the historic Monsanto breakwater located behind Stonington Commons in the borough.

The alternatives range in price from $2.7 million to $6.2 million.

First Selectman Rob Simmons said Wednesday that he now will organize a meeting of town, borough and Stonington Harbor Management Commission officials to decide what option to pursue and have Stantec, the firm that prepared the alternatives, proceed with a design. Once that is done, the town can seek state and federal funding for the work.

“I’d like to move quick on this,” said Simmons, noting that the town-owned breakwater protects an estimated $112 million worth of property along the eastern edge of Stonington Harbor. These properties include the Town Dock and sewer treatment plant, Skipper’s Dock, New England Science and Sailing, Dodson’s Boatyard and many waterfront homes.

Simmons, who is not seeking re-election and whose term ends Nov. 18, said he has no intention of delaying a decision and passing it on to the next administration.

“I’ve been working on this for three years,” he said. “The breakwater is no longer operating effectively. If we don’t come up with a solution, a lot of property owners will suffer.”

The town received a grant from the Connecticut Port Authority to design improvements to the breakwater and develop cost estimates for the work.

The breakwater, built in 1837, has deteriorated over the years, leaving it submerged at high tide and unable to adequately protect portions of the borough in a large storm. At one time, cars and trucks were able to drive on it but it was badly damaged in the Hurricane of 1938.

The first two options in Stantec’s report are to do nothing, or remove and restack the stone at a cost of $2.7 million. The existing height of the breakwater is 4.1 feet over mean low water. Alternative 2 would increase the height to 6 feet.

Simmons said he does not support alternatives 1 or 2 “because that does not accomplish anything.”

Alternative 3 calls for adding stone to the south face and creating a stone walkway on top at a cost of $6.2 million. The elevation would be 12 feet above mean low water.

Alternatives 4, 5a and 5b, which range in cost from $4.7 million to $5 million, call for versions of a sloped runup wall with various tops and a walkway ranging in height from 9.6 to 12.1 feet above mean low water. Simmons said alternatives 4 or 5 would best protect the borough from storms.

“It needs to be higher and there needs to be a run-up wall to break up the wave action in order to protect property,” he said.

Alternative 6 calls for increasing the height of the structures another 3 feet at an additional cost of 30 to 40 percent.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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