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Sandwich wins permission to demolish and rebuild its famed boardwalk

More than 200 feet of decking was ripped from the Sandwich Boardwalk in a storm in January, 2022. It still has not been rebuilt.
Jennette Barnes
More than 200 feet of decking was ripped from the Sandwich Boardwalk in a storm in January, 2022. It still has not been rebuilt.

The town of Sandwich has prevailed in a civil lawsuit that sought to delay demolition and reconstruction of the Sandwich Boardwalk. As a result, the town’s attorney said, work can proceed right away.

Two Sandwich residents filed a lawsuit that led to a temporary restraining order on the boardwalk project last week.

Lisa Hassler, who filed the complaint with her husband, David Hassler, said the town needed to go back to the Historic District Commission because the project certificates were expired.

“Because they have to do a new application, that would allow more vetting by the public,” Lisa Hassler said in an interview with CAI. “It would allow the public to come in and say their piece. You may agree [with the design], you may disagree.”

Hassler is a member of the Historic District Commission, but she and her husband filed the lawsuit as private citizens.

The civil suit hearing took place Monday morning in Barnstable District Court. By late afternoon, the judge had issued a decision in favor of the Town of Sandwich, allowing the demolition and reconstruction of the boardwalk to go forward.

The project will rebuild the storm-damaged boardwalk wider, and with railings, to make it more accessible, and higher, to handle sea-level rise.

The design of the new boardwalk has proved contentious, with opponents calling for a structure that more closely echoed the previous, iconic structure.

Sandwich town counsel Amy Kwesell told the court that the project certification was not expired because the town had asked for it to last two years.

The town also contended that the boardwalk is not a historic structure because it was rebuilt in the early 1990s.

“The boardwalk was completely destroyed in 1992 due to Hurricane Bob and the No Name Storm,” Kwessell told CAI. “It was completely reconstructed in 1992. So therefore, not a historic structure.”

Now that the town has won in court, Kwesell said, work on the demolition and reconstruction may start immediately.

“The next step is that the contractor gets to work,” Kwesell said. “As soon as the building permit was issued, the schedule started. So they are on a schedule.”

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.