Another Chapter in the Battle of the Bluff

Both sides of the debate are happy to stand on the edge of Sankaty Bluff and tell you that every word coming out of their opponent’s mouth is either wrong or a lie.

by: Brian Bushard

photography by: Ray K. Saunders

What started as a question of how to protect the houses on Baxter Road from toppling over the eroding 80-foot bluff has become a no-holds-barred match playing out in Conservation Commission meetings and Superior Court hearings, over the viability of the project meant to protect the bluff from crumbling into the ocean.

“At the end of the day it meant (Sconset Beach Preservation Fund president) Josh Posner signed on to something and lied,” Nantucket Land Council ecologist RJ Turcotte said. “It turns out Posner and company knew all along they couldn’t maintain it.”

On the other side is a group of neighbors who call the geotextile-tube project a success, and the town-imposed sand requirement both unfair and bad science. Their request for an extension from 900 feet to nearly 4,000 feet is what’s currently playing out in the courts.

“Saying that accelerated erosion is happening because of the geotubes is not supported by the facts,” Posner said.

It is a debate that will not end at the bluff, but will eventually become part of a larger conversation of how best to deal with sea-level rise.

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