Conomo Point Seawall Should Be Complete in May


From the town to the residents to the contractors, everyone involved is hoping for the seawall replacement project at Conomo Point to be completed before the end of May.

That timeframe would be ideal, as many Conomo Point occupants will return to the area for the start of summer and avoiding having to navigate major construction with a sudden increase in population for the waterfront community in Essex would be in the best interests of all involved.

“We’d like to say it’s more than possible; we are working with the contractor so that it’s a complete reality,” explains Essex Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki. “That’s when the community starts to come back, and it would be difficult for the contractor to continue to cooperate as they are with a larger portion of people coming back to occupy the property. It wouldn’t be pleasant for the occupants, either, so we really want to have it finished by that time.”

The good news is that work is nearly complete and that end-of-May deadline is a very realistic one. The new seawall is being replaced in four sections, with three sections already complete, and the pouring of the fourth section ready to begin.

“The wall is a reinforced concrete wall, with form liners that give the front of the wall -- the side you can see from the water -- an appearance of stacked, granite blocks,” explains Zubricki. “We are pleased with how that’s coming out, especially how as the wall weathers, it will look close to a stacked, granite block wall.”

Replacing the traditional stacked granite block seawall with a reinforced concrete wall that does an impressive job of mimicking the aesthetics that have long been in place at Conomo Point provides a more secure foundation to guard against flooding and tidal events and relieves the Town of much of the burden when it comes to maintenance.

“It’s maintenance-free compared to a traditional stone wall, where you have grout between stones that must be maintained and replaced every two years,” says Zubricki. “In addition, this wall will have a strip of native plants on the land side of the wall, so that if the wall is overtopped in a storm surge -- which is probably going to happen -- it’s designed to retain the coastal bank so you don’t have erosion, which can wipe out the roads and the land owned by the town.”

That piece -- a reinforced wall with salt-tolerant plants behind it -- is key as coastal flooding events become more common over time. The initial catalyst for this project was a severe tidal surge in 2018 that went over the previous seawall, and resulted in erosion of the wall itself, while also affecting the land behind it.

“As the water tried to get out, since the wall wasn’t reinforced, the water got out by pushing the stones out of the face of the wall,” says Zubricki. “There were undetermined sinkhole areas, holes in the ground. We knew the wall needed attention prior to that, but it was the final straw, if you will.”

The contractor for the project is ACK Marine based out of Quincy, with the project costing about $2.3 million. Zubricki explains that 75 percent of the project is paid for by a state grant, while the remaining amount is paid for by the town.

“The Town is paying for only 25 percent of the project, and that’s using money we got when the Town sold some properties out on Conomo Point,” he says. “That portion of the money is going back into Conomo Point, just over $500,000.”

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