Category "G" Information

Why Middle Beach looks the way it does.
Beach Ave @ Usher St pre 1958
Woodmont Beach the way "Mother Nature" intends it to look!

The 1,500 feet of beach that runs along Beach Avenue from Clinton Street to Bonsilene Street is known as "Middle Beach" and some people call it "Woodmont Beach". In its natural state it is almost indistinguishable from the the way it looks today. To the right you will see a pre-1958 photo of the area at Usher Street @ Beach Avenue in its natural state which is loaded with large rocks with some small patches of sand. In 1959 the Honorable Judge Alvin Rotman, then Warden of the Borough took it upon himself to push the State of Connecticut to provide a large grant to the Borough of Woodmont to construct 6 granite groins approximately 100 feet long perpendicular to the shore as well as hundreds of thousands of cubic tons of sand from Oyster River around the entire shoreline to the Villa Rosa. The sand was a lovely fine grain and provided many years of sand castle building! The problem is that Mother Nature always claws her way back to her natural state. By the early 1970's Middle Beach was almost completely eroded back to the rocky state it was in 1958. In the late 1970's Warden Richard Austin did some research into other ways of replenishing the beaches and attempted using a device call the "Mud Cat". Initially it looked as though it would do the job of sucking up the 1959 sand that settled off shore and through a series of large hoses pumped the sand back onto the beach. The problem was that the Mud Cat was flat bottomed and barge like, designed to be used in lakes, ponds and rivers and didn't provide enough protection from wave action. In addition, it pumped too much seawater along with the sand so it just floated back into the sound. Another larger groin was erected at Belmont Street in 1978 designed by then City Engineer John Casey once again with thoughts of capturing the sand as it traversed the shoreline in its natural easterly direction. It would be another 2 decades, a few hurricanes and Nor'easters before in 1993 when the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) would get involved in designing a "Category G" beach. "Category G" is "Civil Engineers Speak" for a beach that is engineered to withstand natural "Hydraulic Movement or migration". (This is where we get to the reason why people complain to the Board of Warden & Burgesses about the quality of the sand in that area!) In order to create this type of beach the USACE needed to use "material" that is of a "low hydraulic movement" i.e.... gravel, clay infused sand and small rocks. Mayor Fred Lisman, City Engineer John Casey and the City of Milford bought into the plan and signed a 50 year agreement to abide by the rules of a 67 page "Maintenance Agreement/contract" where by the USACE would design and build the beach AND restore it, in the event of a state or federal disaster declaration BUT ONLY if the City followed the maintenance agreement rules. Part of the rules that the City agreed to, was that they would, as needed, provide periodic "renourishment" of the beach and maintain a minimum of a 50 foot berm of sand. The City upheld its end of the agreement until about 2007 when then Mayor Jim Richitelli under financial constraints, stated that they would be unable to continue to do the renourishment because they weren't replenishing the two other Category G beaches in Milford, which eventually did lose their coveted designation. So the Board of Warden and Burgesses took it upon themselves to complete 3 renourishment over the last 12 years and saved Middle Beach from losing the "Category G" designation. In recent years Mayor Ben Blake has agreed to work with the Borough to provide some assistance with the renourishment process and in kind engineering services. The result of the Borough efforts required the USACE and FEMA to uphold their end of the agreement and provided millions of dollars in major storm repairs following Super Storms Irene in 2011 and 13 months later with Sandy in 2012. The Borough does what it can under the financial and legal constraints it must work under and therefore explains why Middle Beach looks the way it does.