Erosion Prompts Demolition Permit For Sankaty Head Beach Club, But It Won't Come Down Just Yet

Jason Graziadei •

With the eroding bluff along Nantucket's eastern shoreline claiming more of its property each year, the Sankaty Head Golf Club filed a demolition permit on April 22 for its Sankaty Head Beach Club at the end of Hoicks Hollow Road.

But the structures, which have been there for 84 years, won't be coming down immediately. Leaders of the Sankaty Head Golf Club said the demolition permit was filed as a proactive step that will allow them to take action when the time comes - whether that's next year or five years from now.

"It's unfortunate, but Mother Nature is relentless," said Edward Sanford, the vice president and treasurer of the Sankaty Head Golf Club board. "This (a demolition) is not going to happen immediately. We assume it will happen, and once we get permission, when we hit an emergency situation, we'll be able to act. We're looking out to the next five to seven years, and we assume the beach club will be gone by then. But it's not imminent."

The filing of the demolition permit was in recognition of the "relentless" erosion along the east end of the island where the beach club is located. The club has already been forced to remove some of the beach cabanas, and just this year it has already lost five or six feet of the coastal bank in front of the property, as measured by wooden beams that were placed along the edge last fall.

The beach club buildings, built in 1940, have been part of the Sankaty Head Golf Club's amenities for members for decades.

"If you go onto the town GIS and go back to 1993 to look at the difference between that and now, it's pretty astounding," Sanford said. "So we are in the process of planning to replace the beach club somehow."

Sanford said he couldn't elaborate as to what the replacement might look like or what the club is considering once the demolition happens. 

Sankaty Head Golf Club's general manager, Lori Snell, described the demolition permit as a "planning mechanism" that was necessary in light of the continued erosion.

"In this last storm alone we lost about five feet," Snell said, noting that the club has already removed the beach cabanas along the southern side of the beach club property. "The next thing we have to think about is the northern cabanas, and we wanted to not have it become an emergency situation. I want at least 10 more years, but I don't know if Mother Nature is going to cooperate." 

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Photo by Peter Sutters
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Photo by Jason Graziadei
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Photo by Peter Sutters
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