Taylor Swift is following the rules

Taylor Swift’s property on Watch Hill, in Westerly, R.I.
Taylor Swift’s property on Watch Hill, in Westerly, R.I.

Reporter David Collins has apologized to Taylor Swift after his recent column resulted in some negative attention for the singer. Collins’s Dec. 29 column in The Day of New London, Conn., said that Swift — who bought a $17 million home on Watch Hill in Rhode Island last year — was messing with boulders on her beachside property.

“At a glance, with all the earth movers working, you might think they were building a landing strip or a mall. They’ve reconfigured the base of the cliff,” he wrote. “Not only is the Swift contractor plucking and moving around big ocean boulders, but they have added a whole new line of rock sea wall on what had previously been a public beach, at a location that appears to be below mean high tide.” After the story went viral, ran an item with the headline “Taylor Swift’s Neighbors Are Mad at Her,” and Gawker said, more bluntly, “Taylor Swift Is [Expletive] Up the Rhode Island Coastline.”

Turns out, Swift’s contractors are simply restoring the coastline, according to Laura Dwyer, public educator and information coordinator for the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. Dwyer — who laughed after seeing her name pop up on tabloid websites covering the story — explained that the contractors working on Swift’s home are fixing a revetment that has fallen apart over the years. “It falls under maintenance,” she said. “Historically, the revetment went much further out. They originally just wanted to come in and just repair that.”


Dwyer said she’s read false reports about the project, including claims that contractors are pulling boulders from the ocean. “Some people were reporting that they’re plucking them out of the depths. That’s not the case.”

Collins followed his original column with another on Jan. 1 that had the headline, “To Taylor Swift: Sorry.” He said, “[R]eally, it is indeed a lot of heavy work, moving big rock. I even called it rearranging the coastline. But I think the coastline will survive.” Collins contends that his issue is not so much with Swift, but with the town of Westerly, R.I., which does not require its own permits for the revetment project. The town’s code enforcer, Amy Grzybowski, explained to us Thursday that seawalls are not regulated by towns; they fall under the jurisdiction of the Coastal Resources Management Council. “We’re not alone in this.”