Newburyport mocks Highlands

Author & Ipswich resident William Sargent who has written several books about coastal erosion,  decided to write an article on the Wicked Local regarding Plum Island and how they were going to use 8 ft of back fill to build up where some new Condo’s were going to be constructed.

Then he adds his opinion on Highlands’ idea of raising the town:

But Highlands, N.J., was proposing the most audacious plan of all. They had studied what Texas had done after the 1900 Galveston hurricane and were proposing that the Army Corps of Engineers spend $200 million of taxpayers’ money to elevate every house, flower and piece of grass in a community worth $574 million dollars.

They proposed to do this by moving everyone into shelters while their houses were put on pilings 11 feet above grade. Then the Corps would move in, build retaining walls and dump million of tons of construction waste behind the walls so, eventually, the entire city would be raised 11 feet into the air.

The proposal wasn’t scheduled to be complete until 2015, and construction could take at least three years. Meanwhile Highlands would have to endure at least five more years of potentially damaging storms.

He goes on to suggest that maybe we should just move the town to the high side of RT 36.  (I think I sarcastically made the same suggestion a few years back..)

Then says adding dunes to Plum island sounds so much more reasonable when you compare to Highlands idea to “raise the town.”

We’re officially being mocked..

He ends it by stating “This was not the way to plan for Sandy-like storms and sea level rise.” – I wish we could bring him to a council meeting or maybe the flood mitigation steering committee meeting.

Some of his books Sargent authored include:

“Storm Surge,” “Beach Wars,” “The House on Ipswich Marsh” and “The View From Strawberry Hill,” which has chapters on Plum Island, Hurricane Sandy, and Salisbury Beach.


  1. IS anyone shocked by this. The idea is so ridiculous in the first place it deserves to be mocked, over and over again until the whole sad idea goes away. The fact is that it would be more cost efficient, sensable, and a better idea just to buy everyone out, and bulldoze the town. I mean spend millions to raise falling down bungalows? Really?

    Not to mention people are being told to raise their houses, are doing so, then at the same time they are talking about back filling the town. Does this make any sense?

    If anyone was really serious about back filling the town, why would people be told they had to lift their houses at the same time.

    With all the ridiculous things that go on in this town, the ineptness that is displayed, and all the other wacky things that go on, is it any wonder the town gets mocked?


  2. Our mayor claims that the articles on back filing the town keeps our name in the press. Unfortunately in this case not all press is good press. We look like idiots when it’s only him that is pushing this. And it is bad for the future of our town. We’ll never see progress if he keeps up this “back filling” BS.

    Why would a business come and invest in our town NOW when they’ll just lose business during the back filling? Why would a developer even bother to come to our town when today’s plan might be destroyed by back filling? Why would a home buyer decide to even look at our town if they are just going to have to vacate to a shelter in a couple of years *and* trust that no damage will be done during the back fill process?



  3. I have another therory about why the mayor is pushing the back filling thing. Often leaders, mostly politicians will “float” and outrageous and unpopular plan in advance of “floating” their real plan and intentions. The idea is that the second idea will have less resistance if it is not as terrible than the first idea floated. IE the “real” plan would meet as much resistance if persented initally. This way people can be “relieved” when the idea they hate more, does hot happen.

    I mean, does this really make sense? Put a time limit for people to raise their houses, encourage people to do it, provide info. for assistance etc, have state and federal agencies put out tons of money for this, then just turn around and back fill the town?

    Are we supposed to believe that the portions under the raised houses will now become usable basements? And shouldnt people be pissed off if they pay tons of money to go through the process, only to have the town back filled?

    And, what about the people whose house was dropped and the one next door to it that the town could not rush fast enough to tear down? Shouldnt they be pissed if the town just back fills the town after what they are going through.

    Me thinks something stinks in the state of Denmark Horatio!


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