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South End Plea: Brother, Can You Spare Some Sand?

Ocean City property owners petition for beach replenishment south of 34th Street.

Neighbors from the south end of Ocean City have watched their beach erode slowly over the past few years, but the encroaching waves reached new lengths on an otherwise beautiful August weekend recently.

The high tide pushed the weekend crowd into a huddle up against the dunes at the back of the beach. The waves rolled across the soft sand, covered most of a beach volleyball court, and forced the Ocean City Beach Patrol to drag its equipment to the very back of the beach amid the crowd.

That's about the time the petition started going around. Jeff Monihan, a former real estate agency owner and current beachfront property owner, asked his neighbors to help send a message.

As of the weekend, about 60 different property owners had signed a petition that will ask the city to act with urgency in requesting more sand for south-end beaches.

In a $10 million project this winter, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pump new sand onto the beaches at the north end of Ocean City. But the beach replenishment will stop at 12th Street — miles shy of of the south-end beaches that are disappearing.

Convential wisdom holds that all sand eventually drifts south, but the neighbors are hoping for an unconventional solution — they'd like to see the dredging equipment keep going to replenish the entire island this winter.

The tale of two beaches in Ocean City illustrates the high stakes in the federal beach nourishment program — an extremely costly and often very temporary solution for rebuilding eroded beaches in resorts that rely on them to feed their tourist economies.

The north-end beaches successfully applied for the Army Corps program in the early 1990s and have since been eligible for a three-year cycle of "maintenance" projects to restore the beach to the profile after the initial nourishment project. The approved area runs from the north end of the island to 36th Street. (See attached PDF for a project history.)

The federal government pays for 65 percent of the program, while the state Department of Environmental Protection picks up the other 35 percent. Of the state's portion, Ocean City is required to contribute 25 percent.

So for this winter's project, for instance, Ocean City will fund just 8.75 percent of the anticipated $10 million project. In August, City Council approved the borrowing of $617,500 to help fund its share.

Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said the city would likely be prepared to fund a similar share for south-end beach replenishment, but he doesn't anticipate the federal funding coming through any time soon. He said the south end is on an approved list but is still waiting for funding.

Richard Pearsall, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, confirmed on Tuesday that the area between 36th and 59th streets in Ocean City is on a list of authorized projects.

Pearsall said the south-end project is waiting on two things: a project partnership agreement with the State of New Jersey and federal funding. He said the Army Corps uses economic benefits criteria to prioritize various projects.

He said the state has the option to pay for the south-end project itself — something that happened in 1995 ($1,233,000) and 2001 ($1.8 million) when the state provided funds for the federal Army Corps to continue work beyond 36th Street to replenish south-end beaches.

The key for the south-end petitioners and the city will be to find a government — federal or state — with a few million to spare for a new project and to make a case that the economic benefits would be critical.

Because of the availability of both parking and restrooms, the beach at 58th Street is among the most popular on the island.

 

(Do you have photographs of south-end erosion? Upload them to this story.)

Newell138 September 05, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I'm surprised actually, the beaches in this area seem to be 2 or 3 times wider than those around North St.
Donna September 05, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Am surprised all beaches weren't funded at the time the north end got it. Save the beaches!!! I would have signed the petition had I been around.
Southend Citizen September 05, 2012 at 03:13 PM
It was horrible this year, especially the closer you got to the jetty and during the recent Full Moon. Several times the OCBP ATV's had to stop and shout people out of the way including en route to a emergency response for a child having a seizure. Given the number of condos and the crowds this year, I would think there is sufficient tax revenue and rental income to justify the economic benefit test. Perhaps we can have an online version of the petition? Or a central place to mail a letter?
Fred Hadtke September 05, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Letter sent to city administration. Pumping may not be the answer-read on!! We use to have a 200-foot deep beach. Now we have 200 feet of dunes and a sliver of beach. The city’s front loader scoops sand from below the low water line and piles it onto the dune front . The dune moves toward the water by 20' a year. Taking this to its conclusion results in no beach. Scraping sand has negative effects. Beach height reduced, swale has formed water that fills, removed sand means there less to replenish sand bar that moves back in the summer. Less sand comes back to replenish the beach. Waves crash with more force forming a steep causing serious injuries. I implore Ocean City to stop placing sand on the front of the dunes. We have more dune than any other area. Why the dune has been extended so far is a puzzle. Properties alone this area cannot be built on as Dr. Havner gave them to the city with the proviso that nothing could be built. Please stop building dunes and roads on our beach. Give it a chance to recover. It is nearly too late. One suggestion: We like the beach cleaning but the city needs somewhere to place the spoils. I suggest they be placed on dune backside. There is access from 57th northward and at the 57th street beach entrance. Remove the latest line of snow fence from the front of the dunes allowing storms to take the sand to restore the beach, fill the swale and replenish the sand bar. Try it for 2 years. Pumping in sand will create a wall easily eroded.
Lynn Duffy September 05, 2012 at 06:17 PM
I agree with Fred that the dunes are wide enough. Leave some space for the beaches to replenish themselves. Our beach at 42-43rd St. has always replenished itself and is now wider than it has ever been. Years ago when the city replenished our beach, it was a terrible inconvenience and the sand which was pumped onto the beach was of a far poorer quality than the sand which washes up naturally. I understand that there are beaches which do need man's help, but not all of them do. Please put the time and money into only those beaches which truly need the manmade replenishment.
CTA September 05, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Most of you would not remember that during the 1970s/1980s that the water line was up to the sea wall at 52nd street. There was not beach, two sand pumping operations in the late 80s and in 1995 built the beach and dunes you see today. The sand pumping operations are totally designed by the us army corps of engineers, the city has little or no input into design or placement of the sand.....it is what it is. The island wants to migrate to the south and east. Go look at the inner side of Carson's inlet to see where the sand is oing
jennifer September 06, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I am afraid that Southenders just don't get much attention in Ocean City. On the corner of 51st and West Avenues, the drain has been stopped up for years. It is so bad that there is sea grass growing in the street. Fish swim around in the puddles there all the time. When the water recedes, it is pure crud. Does this happen in the Gardens where the locals with the pull live?

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