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Science & Environment

How to Save Falmouth's Surf Drive? Residents Get a Chance to Weigh In

Eve Zuckoff
A Falmouth resident gestures to a map of the Surf Drive area in Falmouth. On Thursday, the town met with dozens of residents to discuss what they'd like to see in plans to adapt the road for climate change.

Falmouth is reimagining the future of Surf Drive, one of its most iconic coastal roads. On Thursday night, the town asked more than 60 residents for feedback on how they’d like to see the area adapted to meet the impacts of climate change.

In the next 50 years, Surf Drive is projected to experience as much as four feet of sea level rise—which will flood and seriously threaten public and private property.   

“You know, if I was gonna draw a big conclusion out of this, I’d say my house is probably gonna flood, but not while I’m alive,” noted Paul Skudder, who lives on walker street which intersects Surf Drive.

As a result, the town has hired The Woods Hole Group, a local engineering firm, to develop plans to adapt the area for long-term resilience.

Wendy Buesseler, executive director of the Oyster Pond Environmental Trust, which owns much of the land around Surf Drive, said she’s sad to know the area will change, but she’s pleased to see the town being proactive.

“Everybody along the south coast [has to] consider: what do we value, what do we want to keep,” she said, adding, “I think that’s just the future. That’s what we’re looking at.”

But, Skudder said, he’s concerned the firm could recommend drastic measures.       

“It’s certainly easier to talk about abandonment or retreat when you’re talking about property that’s not someone’s actual home. But a whole neighborhood of homes is very important.”

The firm said it’s still gathering data, which includes public opinions, and will deliver its recommendations to the town by the end of June. 

“Some of the time frames these people are talking about will be my children’s problems, not mine,” Skudder said. “That doesn’t mean it isn’t important to me.”