Swampscott to spend $1.8 million on King’s Beach cleanup

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SWAMPSCOTT — After two separate nights of discussion, the Select Board voted unanimously to spend $1.8 million of its $2.5 million state American Rescue Plan Act funds on continuing efforts to replace and re-sleeve antiquated sewer pipes that leak sewage into King’s Beach through Stacey’s Brook.

In addition to the $1.8 million allocated toward pipe replacement and repair, $400,000 will fund the design work necessary to plan the next round of source elimination. Up to $100,000 will be allocated toward a peer review of the town’s current source elimination work, and about $200,000 will be spent to pay for a recently completed asset management report and draft new strategies for beach cleanup.

Select Board Chair David Grishman also noted that the town’s spending to plan complementary solutions, such as creating an extension pipe at Stacey’s Brook or a pilot UV light treatment center, should be split evenly with Lynn.

“We need to be very rock solid clear … we may have been very generous about the report, but doing this work, we’ve got to share this at least 50-50 with Lynn, that’s only fair,” Grishman said.

The Select Board’s vote Monday night followed a more than one-hour-long discussion last Wednesday on how to spend the funds. With board members conflicted over different spending strategies, the discussion was postponed until Monday night without a vote.

In initial discussions, Select Board member MaryEllen Fletcher proposed spending the entire $2.5 million on pipe replacement and repair, citing the town’s insufficient progress under its 2015 Environmental Protection Agency Consent Decree. Select Board Vice Chair Katie Phelan wished to prioritize completing a peer review study.

Fletcher also noted that while the town consistently funded source-elimination efforts from 2016 until 2020, allocating roughly $2 million every other year, no funding has been allocated toward source elimination since 2020.

“We received the letter from the United States EPA urging faster source elimination. This is a quote: ‘More aggressive action by the town to eliminate sources of untreated sanitary sewage is critical.’ We have a legal obligation to stop the sewer flow through source elimination,” Fletcher said Wednesday.

The Board voted to table a vote allocating an additional $2.1 million in town ARPA funds that had been proposed to be spent partly on remedying future pollution at Fisherman’s Beach until an upcoming meeting in December.

“If it was easy, it would not be worth doing,” Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald remarked prior to the Board’s vote to adjourn.

  • Anthony Cammalleri is the Daily Item’s Swampscott and Nahant News Reporter. He wrote for Performer Magazine from 2016 until 2018 and has been published in the Boston Globe, and Westford Community Access Television News.

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