An influx of emergency funding to the Army Corps of Engineers will help rebuild severely eroded beaches in Ocean City in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
An already-approved beach-widening project is now scheduled to start in mid-February. It was designed to cover beaches from the north end of the island to about 12th or 13th Street.
The new funding — announced to Ocean City at a meeting in Brigantine on Tuesday — would add to the 1 million cubic yards already approved for the project. It would not ony replace sand eroded by the storm, but return the height and width of north-end beaches to the profile when the original replenishment project was completed.
The new funding would likely allow the city to extend the scope of the project beyond 13th Street to the central parts of the island within the federally approved area up to 36th Street.
The new money is also "a positive as to the possibility of a south-end project," according to Business Administrator Mike Dattilo.
The Army Corps had already approved a separate application for beach-widening between 36th and 59th streets long before Sandy struck. That project has been awaiting federal funding.
A partnership between the state and the city to fund its own south-end project is still a possibility, Dattilo said.
"There are a lot of balls in the air on this entire subject," Dattilo said.
City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that approves $5.3 million in spending and $5 million in borrowing for Sandy repairs. The city expects to be reimbursed for 75 percent of the spending.
The $5.3 million includes $2,675,000 to rebuild dunes and replace dune fencing and dune plantings for the length of the island.
The plan includes trucking in 50,000 cubic yards of sand to help restore dunes between 50th and 59th streets, where they were entirely wiped out by the storm.
The Army Corps project does not include rebuilding Ocean City's dunes, but the city will be able to pay the Army Corps to replenish dunes at the north end during the beach-widening project. The ordinance includes appropriations to cover that cost.
The ordinance also includes spending for bayfront bulkhead repairs ($360,000), public buildings including City Hall ($2,050,000), the tennis courts at 34th Street ($175,000) and the parking lot at 59th Street ($30,000).
A second reading on the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 14.