Ocean City Beach Project Won't Start Before Summer

Eroded beaches and dunes at the southern end of Ocean City will be rebuilt in a project that now will likely start after Labor Day.

A winter storm last week cut into the sand berm protecting beachfront homes at 57th Street in Ocean City. Photo from Jan. 8, 2014.
A winter storm last week cut into the sand berm protecting beachfront homes at 57th Street in Ocean City. Photo from Jan. 8, 2014.
A federal project to rebuild beaches and dunes at the southern end of Ocean City will not start before summer, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Gov. Chris Christie announced in October an "accelerated schedule" of projects to restore beaches damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The schedule called for the Ocean City project to start in March.

But the work is not likely to start until after Labor Day, according to Ed Voigt and Richard Pearsall of the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.

A complex array of partnership agreements, environmental permits and other prerequisite planning will keep the project from starting in the spring, they said.

"It looks now as if we'll go out for bids on the Ocean City project in May, award a contract in July and start work after Labor Day," Pearsall said.

The schedule affects property owners, beachgoers, vacationers and rental agencies at the southern end of the island, where eroded beaches disappeared during some high tides even before Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012. Sandy's storm surge flattened dunes and led to a stopgap effort to truck in sand to form a temporary dune to protect property. The city then spent another $1.1 million to truck in more sand to elevate and widen beaches between 49th and 59th streets.

Residents and vacationers had been hoping for a project that would restore beaches before the start of the 2014 season.

"We have recently been receiving conflicting information regarding the schedule for the beach replenishment project for the south end of Ocean City, including the possibility that construction may not begin until after Labor Day," Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement on Thursday. "We know of no reason or combination of reasons that would cause a delay from the schedule we were elated to hear announced in October of last year. I have contacted Governor Christie’s Office, along with Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman LoBiondo to request their assistance in having this project proceed in a timely manner."

"In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the condition of our beaches and take all necessary steps to protect public and private property," Gillian said.

At Thursday's City Council meeting, Business Administrator Mike Dattilo reported the that city is ready to truck in more sand, if necessary, to protect property at the southern end of the island. Council approved contracts for the contingency in the fall.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna confirmed that the environmental work and design reviews necessary for large-scale beach projects led to the delayed schedule.

"You would have to expect that there would be some revision to schedules," Hajna said.

The federal government will pick up the full estimated $63 million cost of the initial project in Ocean City, which will include Strathmere (Upper Township) and Sea Isle City. The project area would then be part of a three-year maintenance cycle with the Army Corps of Engineers returning to restore the beaches to the initial project dimensions. The project area will include beaches from 34th to 59th streets in Ocean City.

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. That leaves Ocean City responsible for only 8.75 percent of the total cost for subsequent projects.

Three other projects, Manasquan Inlet-to-Barnegat Inlet, Long Beach Island and Margate-Longport, look to be a couple of months behind Ocean City, according to Pearsall, with solicitation for bids going out in July, awards made in September and construction starting after that.

In announcing his "schedule for critical Army Corps beach and dune construction projects that will reduce risk to lives, properties and infrastructure by rebuilding 44 miles of New Jersey coastline and providing the state with the most comprehensive and continuous coastal protection system it has ever had," Christie released the following estimated project dates in October:

Southern Ocean City, Upper Township, and Sea Isle City portions of the
Great Egg Harbor Inlet to Townsends Inlet project area 
  • Project agreement: December 2013 
  • Projected construction start: March 2014

Longport and Margate portions of Absecon Island within the Brigantine
Inlet to Cape May Inlet project area 
  • Project agreement: January 2014 
  • Projected construction start: April 2014

Beach Haven, Long Beach Township and Ship Bottom on the Long Beach Island portion of the Little Egg Inlet project area 
  • Project agreement: January 2014 
  • Projected construction start: April 2014

Bay Head, Berkeley, Brick, Lavallette, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach,
Toms River, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park within the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet project area 
  • Project agreement: March 2014 
  • Projected construction start: June 2014

Wyatt January 09, 2014 at 03:51 PM
Principal effects of this delay fall on shoobies, both the tourist types and the rich second home owning ones. So not a big concern, the government needs to get all that paper work in order.
Southend Citizen January 09, 2014 at 03:52 PM
The Mayor probably knew this was coming a month ago. Strathmere officials were already quoted as saying they wouldn't get sand until after the summer and the Mayor met with LoBiondo who said he "continued" to work on getting it done...implying it wasn't a done deal: http://shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/upper-township/upper-township/47771-beach-replenishment-may-come-to-strathmere-at-summers-end.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UpperTwp+%28Upper+Twp.%29
CleanOC January 09, 2014 at 04:58 PM
I,m just glad to see it moving forward. Thanks to all involved.
Bob January 09, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Beggars can't be choosers.
Southend Citizen January 09, 2014 at 09:24 PM
It's not really moving forward, it's moving backwards based on what we've been told so far. The more it's delayed, the more tenuous the hold is on federal dollars. The Army Corps knew this over a month ago, and our City officials swept it under the rug. Wyatt: dry up: you're a professional grouch. The bigger picture is that our local elected officials are either stupid or liars. The Mayor's "victory lap" announcement when it was announced was an embarrassment. He responded to an email I sent 6 months earlier questioning the city's response AFTER he THOUGHT he had the sand...unprofessional and offensive. Bob: who are the beggars? Am I begging when I pay my taxes?...are tenants begging when they pay rents for a vacation?
Phyllis Geisdorf January 10, 2014 at 06:43 AM
Southend Citizen, Absolutely right! Are we begging when we pay our ridiculous monthly water/sewer bills!!!!!!
Jeff Monihan January 10, 2014 at 08:11 AM
Like I said before, the north end will get it's next replenishment, or maybe two, before the south end sees one grain of sand. This is unfair and lousy government from top to bottom.
Charlie Caucci January 10, 2014 at 10:08 AM
With this new delay one can expect more excuses for years to come. I do not believe a word the feds. are saying. Has anyone talked to our political reps? Is it time to call all the media and how about a march in Trenton? We have been very patient & ignored over the last 13 yrs. and what did we get for this...NOTHING
Charlie Caucci January 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM
Like I said, it is time for us to take action.
Phyllis Geisdorf January 10, 2014 at 10:49 AM
Charlie, Not presently a NJ resident but be glad to join in anything you organize to bring attention to the South ends dire need for sand!
DSA January 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM
I doubt very seriously if the entire government, including the ACE, is lying about this now approved project. Cmon guys. Get real DA
Allan T Grohe January 10, 2014 at 01:15 PM
While we hope that the entire City, State & Federal governments are not lying to us they have ignored the southend beaches for decades. We were promised improvements for the summer of 2013 & they were hardly adequate. Now with the postponement, will anything be done for summer of 2014? As a southend property owner I am tired of being denied the same benefits my tax dollars provide for the northend. Obviously its up to City Council now & I am feeling overly confident.
Jeff Monihan January 10, 2014 at 01:33 PM
Now it's time for the tax assessor to reassess all real estate south of 49th St. so the values reflect the pathetic neglected substandard beaches. It's unfair that the saps in the South End are taxed at the same rate as those who enjoy the .benefit of a regularly nourished,politicians beach
CleanOC January 10, 2014 at 05:28 PM
More like the beach in front of the boardwalk (major tourist attraction) and business district. Would you accept a boardwalk that extends to the south end?
EF January 10, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Have all the southend easements been obtained to move forward? How about the "eminent domain" that was necessary? "A complex array of partnership agreements, environmental permits and other prerequisite planning will keep the project from starting in the spring, they said." Per the OC Patch. Oh and Wyatt, it is a big concern, they've had years to get these things in order. We live here, pay taxes, how about you? Those dunes landed in our house and cost all of us in the area thousands of bucks to haul away. Not all shoobies, not all RICH second homeowners.
Bob January 10, 2014 at 07:50 PM
Here are some facts, 65% of this project is being paid by taxpayers from the rest of country. Most of which have never heard of Ocean City. Another 35% of this is being paid by the rest of the taxpayers in the state (a quarter of that by Ocean City, but still). What % of the Jersey state populace goes or owns a property in Ocean City? The beach is as big as it has been for the last 150 years. This is based on survey results and over 100 years of aerial photography. It's great it's going to happen, but let's put things into perspective. Yes it sucks it's happening in the summer, but there is NO emergency and we should be pretty happy that 91.25% of this project is being paid for people who will most likely never see the beach and probably couldn't pinpoint it on a map. And people have the audacity to claim they should have their 600-1mil+ properties reassessed because the government is essentially giving them a handout at the taxpayers expensive so their individual property maintains it's value. It's funny to read all the ranting about 'fairness in taxes' in this town, but it's amazing to see the tune change when the shoe is on the other foot.
Bob January 10, 2014 at 08:02 PM
Wendy. www.historicaerials.com . Search Ocean City. Also see how Corson's Inlet State Park didn't exist 100 years ago and the inlet literally started at 58th Street. Also see beach survey's as digitized by the state dating back to the Civil War.
Bob January 10, 2014 at 08:04 PM
Search '58th Street, Ocean City, NJ'. Dates go back to 1920 for the southend of town.
wendy smith January 10, 2014 at 08:20 PM
Bob. Not sure where my last post went. I know what the beaches looked like years ago. I have the pictures. My point is that the southend is now populated. Those who live there and those that rent for vacation should have a beach like the rest of the island. If the city allows the homes there we should receive the same services ie beach. If there was no such thing as beach replenishment I would not be writing this. But, there is and the southend has somehow been left out in the past. It is time to correct this. The ACE made it very clear to me today that it will not start until after summer. So my question is what is the plan now for the summer of 2014 ?
Bob January 10, 2014 at 08:29 PM
Wendy, Based on what I saw on how the ACE handled the previous Sea Isle and Strathmere beach replenishment,that extended into the beach season, is they will work a block or (less) at a time, and build sand ramps over their pipes allowing the rest of the beach to be open. I expect this will be handled the same way. It may push people from the beaches being worked over for a short period of time, but they will be able to move to the larger beach a block or so away that will be more than able to handle the offset in capacity. People need to understand these operations are very professional in nature with a lot of brain capacity (with people smarter than anyone posting here, myself included) involved. My original rant was focused at the irony of those who claim they should be compensated in way of lower taxes when they are receiving a government entitlement that maintains (or increases) their personal wealth, at the expense of the rest of the nation's populace, but are the first to scream about entitlements when they're not on the receiving end.
Jeff Monihan January 10, 2014 at 10:49 PM
It's a good thing that these beach replenishment politicians and bureaucrats were not the ones responsible for building bombs,aircraft carriers,and tanks during World War II
EF January 11, 2014 at 04:35 PM
It's also a good thing that Ocean City is in the USA, taxpayers can then have a choice to find OC on a map if they choose to and find a beach they can sit on. Where are all the other tax dollars flying? This is a tourist/resort area.
John S. January 12, 2014 at 08:24 AM
A few simple things can help the South end survive the government delays and the next hurricane season: Residents and beach vacationers must be kept off the few dunes that remain. The dunes are not a boardwalk, ball field, or beach patrol highway. People continue to break down what is left of the dunes. If the government can't act quickly enough, then please reinforce the dunes that are there, fence the dunes, place signs, and enforce the Keep off the Dunes laws. The project to fence the dunes south of 48th street was stopped due to the "imminent" beach replenishment project. The small things can help.
Eric Sauder January 12, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Geez these aren't private beaches. On any given day in the summer what is the percentage of the people on our beaches who are residents? So if the maintenance of our beaches requires taxpayer assistance from the state, or even across many states, I don't see why it should be otherwise. Perhaps tourists from Pa. should be contributing to their maintenance? Two schools of thought here. Delays on a project like this are inevitable. And because of that you don't want to wait until you arrive at critical mass before you DO something about it. The reason why our beaches on the south end are (effectively) shut down is because we didn't act soon enough. If I can't rent out my place in the summer time I'd lose it. I can certainly empathize with the home owners on the south end. Its not just a matter of protecting their properties. Its a matter of being able to generate the revenue to afford them.
wendy smith January 12, 2014 at 01:24 PM
John, I totally agree about staying off the "dunes". The problem is two fold: 1- the "hill " you refer to as a dune will never be a true dune without a substantial beach in front if it. I have watched this "hill " erode with every storm and/ or significant high tide. This hill has no protection from the ocean. This " hill" can not become a dune if it continues to get smaller and it will never be a dune if it does not exist long enough to grow vegetation. As a side bar to this, there has been NO attempt to plant anything on this "Hill" so nothing will grow anyway. And 2, the city will actually have to close down the "beaches" on 56, 57 and 58 streets on many days. There were and will continue to be days when the ocean and the hill meet and the only place to actually be is on the "hill ". Back to the question I have asked over and over and over again "what is the plan to insure a beach, with dune protection in the southend"? What are plan A, plan B, plan C and plan D? And at what point do you know you have to move away from the hope of plan A to the absolute of plan B? Or even all the way to plan D ?
Jeff Monihan January 13, 2014 at 01:34 PM
It would appear as though the current generation of anti-dune Margatians should have nothing to worry about with these beaurocrats in charge


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