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Stopping erosion won't be cheap

Consultant says $2.5 M is price tag to stabilize park's shoreline

The Town of Bethlehem has long known about the issue of erosion on the shore of its Henry Hudson Park in Selkirk, but now it has an estimate of what it would take to fix it: $2.5 million.

That's the conclusion of a consultant hired to study the problem. Ocean and Coastal Consultants was retained to the tune of $33,300 ($24,750 of which was from a state grant) for a six-month study and on Wednesday, June 22, presented its findings to the Town Board.

The extensive report confirmed what most already knew: a timber bulkhead built in the nineteenth century and later capped with concrete has degraded, crumbling into the Hudson River and slowly taking more and more of the town park in with it as waves, ice and flooding attack the shore.

The consultants recommended installing a "rock riprap" barrier along almost all of the park's 2,680 feet of river shoreline. This type of barrier is comprised mostly of large rocks and slopes down to the river. In some places, plants would be placed among the rocks that would eventually grow into a vegetative cover.

It was the best solution when looking at cost, effectiveness and longevity, said Ocean and Coastal Consultants' Joseph Marrone.

"We did look at a number of different factors for alternatives, ranked these in terms of importance and gave them weight," he said.

Though a riprap barrier is sturdy and long lasting, one drawback is that it would limit or disallow public access to the shoreline. The large, probably wet rocks would be a hazard to venture out on, said Marrone.

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Resident Bill Kelleher, who has long been studying the shoreline and advocating a fix, said that's a major drawback.

"To me, that shoreline is completely useless," he said at the Town Board meeting.

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