Posted by: coastlinesproject | February 8, 2015

Plum Island Buyout Plan.




On January 28, the Boston Globe ran an editorial about using state funds to buy back threatened homes on Plum Island. It is certainly a step in the right direction. But it also shows how complicated it will be to pull back from the coasts in a fair and responsible manner.


If the state’s main reason for buying threatened homes is to obtain land for public recreation then it is a poor investment. That land is going to wash away in 3 to 5 years.


But if the state’s reasons are to provide access to the coast, save on insurance payments, plus help stranded homeowners then it makes very good sense. There is one household on Plum Island that would make a particularly good candidate for such a buyout program.


The house is hanging over the edge and the elderly homeowners are dependent on modest social security checks. Their entire life savings are wrapped up in this primary home, which they can’t sell. They also have some difficult health and safety challenges. There are houses on either side of this home that are equally vulnerable and would make equally good purchases.


The state has $20 million dollars set aside for such buyouts and the idea has been endorsed in the Massachusetts Erosion Committee report. Hopefully groups like the Merrimack River Beach User’s Alliance, Storm Surge and Senator Tarr’s office will push for buying out one or more of these properties before they are lost.





William Sargent is a member of Storm Surge and author of 20 books on science and the environment. His latest book, Islands in the Storm, is about Plum Island. It is available in local bookstores and through and at







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