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Ocean City Votes to Ask for Rebuilding of South End Beaches

City Council passes a nonbinding resolution urging the federal government to expand a winter beach-replenishment project.

City Council added its voice on Thursday (Nov. 29) to the chorus pleading for the federal Army Corps of Engineers to expand a project that would widen severely eroded beaches on only half of Ocean City.

Council voted unanimously to pass a nonbinding resolution (see attached PDF for full text) "respectfully requesting" the federal government to approve funding for beach replenishment from 36th to 59th streets. Mayor Jay Gillian and south-end citizens have already lobbied for more sand.

The federal government is scheduled this winter to set up a dredge off the coast of Ocean City, lay underwater pipe and pump more than a million cubic yards of sand onto the island's storm-ravaged beaches.

The $10 million beach-widening project is also scheduled to stop somewhere near 14th Street — leaving more than four miles of Ocean City beaches without a grain of sand to show for all the effort.

The request takes on new meaning in the wake of "superstorm" Sandy, which wiped out dune systems across much of the island, and leaves the severely eroded north and south ends of Ocean City extremely vulnerable to new coastal storms.

Richard Pearsall, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, confirmed earlier this fall 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.

"The money spent would be insignificant when compared to the millions in property value that would be lost," Councilman Scott Ping said.

Ping suggested inviting senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Frank LoBiondo to tour Ocean City's defenseless south end.

Ocean City is responsible to fund only 8.75 percent of the anticipated $10 million project, with the remainder funded by the Army Corps and state Department of Environmental Protection.

The federal Army Corps typically pays for the bulk of the work, but the state would have 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 (see second PDF for project history).

Ocean City was first approved for an ongoing federal Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment program in the 1990s for the area from the north end of the island to 36th Street. The 50-year agreement calls for maintenance dredging every three years (contingent on the approval of federal funding).

City Council in August unanimously approved borrowing $617,500 to help fund its portion of an anticipated project that would pump sand to widen Ocean City's beaches before next summer.

The new project would restore Ocean City beaches from the northernmost jetty near Seaspray Road to an area near 14th Street. The project would restore those beaches to their original profile.

It's not yet clear if the approved project would be extended to cover the permitted area between 17th and 36th streets in the aftermath of Sandy. While the wide and healthy dune systems in that part of the island held back the storm surge from Sandy, large sections of dune were flattened in the storm. The expansion of the project to that already-approved area potentially could be achieved with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The beach replenishment program is seen as vital to the economy of Ocean City and other shore towns that rely on summer visitors to thrive.

The work is scheduled to be done in conjunction with a project in nearby Brigantine.

The Brigantine portion of the project would be completed first, making the Ocean City work likely to happen in late winter or early spring in 2013.

walt hays November 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM
This is a no braner- OK so I can't spell- OC has to stop relying on a natural flow of sand from N to S- not with these kid of storms! Pump all the sand you can possibly get from the Govt from 15th street to Corsons Inlet and rebuild the dunes fast before the next storm- I am a former member of the OC fishing Club- try to pump around the pier please!
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Oh yea- and the next time someone wants to sue the city to remove the dune in front of their house to improve their view, just refer them to the guy who did this and lost his home during Sandy- see part two of the video now on Patch! lol
George November 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM
There is still plenty of sand in the lagoons that were not dredged yet. we can use that as a base and pump sand from the inlet channels on top to make a really nice beach that satisfies both coasts.
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Most of that muck is probably a bio hazard and has to be disposed of per epa standards-sorry
George November 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Walt, dilution is the solution to the percieved pollution. I am a firm believer that some solution needs to occur about the disposal or movement of the spoils and EPA is a grid lock expensive system. Before technology was able to measure such minute amounts of arsenic, this was not an issue, and now because it's been identified, it is? who do you know that has grown up on the bayfront and has swam and played in the marshes who has a high blood arsenic level? I've been doing it since 1966, and I'm glad to report, the stripers and flounder that I eat all summer have not been sick, or have made me sick from side effects of this arsenic bath. I also believe there needs to be some rational science to support the claims that dilution of this percieved toxic waste field called the bay, is not a viable alternative to no alternative at all. There needs to be a long range plan to address this percieved problem. The bay is healthier then when I was a kid. There are more birds, fish, biomass as a whole then the days when I was paddelin through peoples laundry bubbles and wiping to coal soot off my fathers boats. Lets have a constructive discussion on a viable solution rather then be obstructionist with out ideas to solve the impass.
Douglas Bergen (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Walt and George, I do know the city asked the state DEP about doing the common sense thing: moving sand from the lagoons (where nobody wants it) to the beach (where everybody wants it). Forgive my faulty memory, but I think the issue was not pollution but that the type of sand (grain size?) was inconsistent. I'll see if can get more info on this.
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Can't argue about any of this, BUT, I predate you by a few- I was fishing Rainbow channel in a 24ft ANA that was docked at the old Joneses boat yard in 1951- And my mom caught the biggest flounder I ever saw, and I saw Mo Klauses 13 pounder- brought it to my house to show me, that was 1953. Caught many a fish in Drag Channel, Rainbow channel, back by the AP, Not to mention fishing every Tues and Thurs on the Viking for 5 yrs. BUT, I have never been tested for arsnic- As such, in spite of the fact that I have been eating every species known to man out of the back bays of OCNJ since 1951- I am still alive and healthy at the age of 63.5
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 03:48 PM
No need to look into this for me- it was the sand texture that was in question- I remember! I'd rather see you getting a lot of sleep now to prepare for our next storm so you can cover it for 4 days w/o sleep- that was one outstanding job you did during Sandy- I love the PATCH!
George November 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
That's great history walt and glad your veins have the same salt water as mine. Ma Klause has kept the tradition as well with the big flatties and two world records to her credit. Doug, you are correct in that the spoils issue was partly the make up. That again was not an issue in the early 70's when the pipes crossed over from the bay to the beach and we used to have sliding contests in the mud. I believe I have some of the details you are referring to as well. If I can find, I'll send you a PM.
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Bet we know each other George- I have not seen Mo in about 10 yrs- actually used to work for Harry driving cars- One Class Act-IMHO-If ya want to go fishing this spring on The Viking with Capt Norm- send me an e mail-hayswat@yahoo.com-we can take Doug if he wants to go!
Duffer November 28, 2012 at 08:45 PM
So long as you are removing sand from the very nearshore sand bars that protect our towns to pump it up on the beach you are wasting your time. Everytime they pump from these sandbars the wave energy that reaches shore increases. Great for surfers but no good for long term shoreline protection.
jennifer November 28, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Someone should alert the realtors - it will be difficult to rent the houses in the south end when there is no beach there. Since it is apparent that the realtors run Ocean City, maybe they have the clout to get some sand to the south end. Since there are many 2nd homeowners (non-voters) and no insiders of any consequence in the south end, maybe the all mighty realtors can make this happen since it may impact their finances. The south end provides lots of revenue for the city in taxes and there are some special interest groups who have wanted to use it as a giant bike path so the south end is just there for the use of the club members. Maybe since the realtors may lose some rental income, the south end will get the sand they have so needed for many years.
Bob November 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Duffer, Sand is almost always pumped from the ebb tidal deltas in the inlets. Inlets have vast reservoirs of sand just outside of them. Heck, the entire length of Strathmere and Sea Isle was pumped with sand from bars just outside of Corson's Inlet. The Army Corp has a culture of "engineering trumps nature" , but they're not that foolish. As for pumping out of the lagoons, the city did this years ago. It was before my time, but you don't have to dig deep to know the city had a municipal dredge with pipes running from the bay and discharging where the boardwalk meets the beach. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize that the mud is mostly finer silts and sand mixed in with organic material. It wasn't too long ago that the city discharged sewage into the bay (35 years?). The site of the sewer plant is actually a former landfill, I don't think many people know that. Here is the report on Strathmere (Corson's Inlet) from the Coastal Research Center. It's a good read: http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/coastal/content/docs/municipal_reports/ut2010.pdf In addition, it's very easy to observe the changes to the shoreline via Google Earth using the time line. If you do this for Strathmere, the changes over a period from 2007-2009 is incredible.
Bob November 28, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Ran out of space.... There is also historic shoreline data available for use in GIS software. I've observed the changes from about the Civil War until present in Ocean City, and I can tell you, the island looked very different about 120 years ago, especially the north-central to north end. There is a reason the life saving station is where it's at. It wasn't too long ago that Wildwood was split into two (look up Turtle Gut Inlet. Developers had it closed in 1922). What am I getting at? The politics here is about money. The Army Corp, despite their criticisms, does a pretty impressive and conscientious job at beach replenishment (well, as long as you're not a fan of beach dwelling organisms, but beach raking takes care of most of them, unfortunately). As you can see from the report, the sand is back there in Corson's Inlet. If they pump, it could be from there, but will most likely be from the Great Egg Harbor Inlet (largest inlet in New Jersey). In addition, we must realize, that we're on a barrier island, and things are always in a constant state of flux. We will be fine until what it costs to protect the island exceeds its worth. Storm frequency and intensity, and sea level rise will determine when that day will be.
walt hays November 28, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Bob- that Stockton report is a real good read! Thanks
Bob November 29, 2012 at 03:22 AM
And the 2011 report: http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/coastal/content/docs/2011_NJBPN_Report/Capemayco2011.pdf
George November 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
tried your link and does not seem to work
walt hays November 29, 2012 at 01:17 PM
George- that's my e mail address- hayswalt@yahoo.com
Ronald Plesco November 30, 2012 at 04:07 PM
During the 80's the southend dunes were built up with discarded Christmas trees. It worked very well for building up the dunes.
RhondaVW November 30, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I think ultimately, if we are to win a round or two against Mother Nature, it will take a combination of solutions. I think the city should look into the use of artificial reefs installed just offshore. It would not take much of an alteration to the ocean's floor to substantially weaken oncoming storm surges which in turn would give a rebuilt dune system a better chance of surviving a storm as well. Furthermore, a manmade reef, would tend to trap sand between it and the shore and aid in restoring beaches naturally which would reduce the number of replenishment projects needed. http://tinyurl.com/GeotubeBreakwater
DSA December 01, 2012 at 02:24 PM
When might we hear and is it likely to be approved?
Fun afloat March 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM
What are the plans for getting onto the southend beaches this spring/summer.? Right now you have to scale the "Great Wall of OC" which I am happy to see, but am wondering about beach access.

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