The Middle Beach seawall at the intersection of Boothby Road is eroding because of the ocean’s impact, Kennebunk town officials said.
Town engineer Chris Osterrieder, who’d been assessing the seawall situation for weeks, detailed the damage to the seawall during Tuesday night’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
“About two weeks ago I hinted there may be an issue down at the beach,” Osterrieder said. “Unfortunately what we anticipated would happen started to happen. … We did experience some (seawall) failure last week, the undermining of the sidewalk and part of the wall lost material beneath it.”
Osterrieder added that part of the metal sheeting beneath the wall has started to rotate.
“When we lost part of that (stone material) that’s called a revetment — that exposed the sheeting,” Osterrieder said. “Probably a better analogy would be to think of it like a tooth without a gum — the tooth started to wiggle.”
Osterrieder and second town engineer Eric Labelle made an immediate repair when the damage was discovered and reinforced the wall. According to Osterrieder the wall hasn’t moved since, and in the coming weeks he and Labelle plan to identify a long-term fix to the seawall.
He added a stone revetment would be the most economical solution, though it may not address a long-term problem.
The immediate repairs made to the seawall ran around $40,000 to $50,000 Osterrieder said.
“Considering how promptly we had to do (the repair) … I think we dodged a bullet,” Osterrieder said. “We are going to have to look at what the longer term solution is.”
Selectmen applauded the decision to quickly repair the seawall when the issue was first spotted.
“That could have been a big chunk of the road washing into the Atlantic Ocean,” Selectman Shiloh Schulte said. “So that was fantastic.”
Schulte noted the town must figure out whether it should consider adding more stone to make the structure “bigger, bulkier and stronger” or change the angle and placement of the wall so wave action isn’t continually eroding and eating away at the location.
Osterrieder said the Department of Environmental Protection would be very involved in mitigating the issue.
Selectman Blake Baldwin questioned whether other entities could assist in the matter.
“We are the sole owner of that wall, so at this point there is nobody volunteering to offer us financial assistance,” Osterrieder said.
Selectmen decided the board would revisit the matter after Osterrieder and Labelle have had the chance to run more diagnostics on the seawall.