Bring back foresight and common sense

March 22, 2013

The Primehook Beach and Prime Hook National Refuge scenario so far is going according to a familiar but frustrating script: a minor prob­lem develops - the breach of a protective dune - which with some common sense could be fixed quickly and inexpensively.

Think of the little Dutch boy who saw the hole in the dike and plugged it with his finger, thus averting a much more devastating problem, or the old adage that says a stitch in time saves nine. We don’t need any new proverbs. The old ones work fine.

But the familiar script we’re watching doesn’t follow those common-sense approach­es. Instead, bureaucratic review and process jump into the mix, quick fix gets stymied, the breach gets wider and wider and multiplies into several breaches, the single road serving a bayside community floods and cuts resi­dents off with increasing frequency, suddenly there’s an emergency and then guess what?

The simple solution that would have cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars now balloons into a cost of several million and cuts through federal red tape because of the emer­gency declaration. The scenario was as easy to predict as tomorrow morning’s sunrise.

Because the breaches were not fixed earlier, the prophecy that rising sea level would quickly wipe out the thin Primehook Beach barrier anyway became self-fulfilling. Obvi­ously as a government of the people, we need to push common-sense solutions harder.

At least in the Primehook Beach scenario, many people had the foresight to see the emer­gency on the horizon. Farther down the coast at Indian River Inlet, the scenario is a little more unsettling. How can we as a people have built a $150 million bridge without taking the obvious problem of the starved beach on the north side of the inlet into consideration?

Less than one year after that apparently cursed crossing finally opened after 10 years of construction, storms have closed it twice due to the ocean washing over the roadways immediately north of the structure. Now, once again, emergency measures are being taken which, especially in the case of the bridge, should never have been necessary.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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