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South-Enders Rally in Search of Sand

But the odds of securing a beach-replenishment project remain unclear.

A large gathering of south-end residents helped pack the lecture room at the Ocean City Free Public Library for Thursday night's City Council meeting as the neighbors pleaded for help in saving their severely eroded beach.

Even months before Superstorm Sandy struck on Oct. 29, the beach between 50th and 59th streets disappeared during high tides. But the storm completely wiped out protective dunes and left that part of the island defenseless against future storms.

A succession of south-enders spoke in the public comment portion at the start of the meeting. They asked City Council and the city administration to take action to protect property, to preserve the greatest asset of a tourist economy and to afford the south end the same consideration as other parts of the island.

"We need sand, and we need it this year," Simpson Avenue resident Al Grohe said to a round of applause.

"We've been told by a bunch of governmental bodies, 'We're working on it, we're working on it,' " Thad Kirk of the 5600 block of West Avenue said. "You didn't wait to clean up the streets."

Kirk delivered to City Council copies of what he said were 200 letters from south end constituents to legislators.

The public comment elicited a vow from Mayor Jay Gillian.

"I can promise you, and I don't do it often ... we're going to do whatever we can," Gillian said. "I'm going to do everything I can without going to jail."

But what exactly the city can do remained mostly unclear.

Business Administrator Mike Dattilo reported that the letter-writing campaign of Ocean City residents appears to have been noticed by legislators.

"We have very encouraging signs," he said.

The city administration remains convinced that the best scenario would be for funding of an already approved Army Corps of Engineers project for the south end. The approval would bring beach replenishment back every three years with the city paying just 8.75 percent of the overall project cost.

But Dattilo said the extension of a beach-widening project on the north end of the island — scheduled to start today (Friday, Feb. 15) — appears unlikely, particularly because nesting season for the endangered piping plover starts on March 15 and stretches into August.

He said state and federal officials have been noncommital on how disaster relief funds will be spent. But with more than $50 billion earmarked for Sandy relief, there appears to be some chance to protect south-end properties with a beach replenishment project.

In the meantime, City Council approved a bond ordinance that includes $2.7 million to replace dunes, fencing and plantings across the length of Ocean City's beachfront. The plan includes funding to truck in sand to bolster dunes at the south end.

schmidtr February 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Piping plovers - what next - a safe haven for greenheads? If you want to see the effects of political tree-huggers on a local economy just look to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park. The Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife sued the Federal Government and actually won. Check the economy on Hatteras Island now.
schmidtr February 15, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Some consideration should probably be given to actually withholding our taxes until something gets done.
Eric Sauder February 16, 2013 at 12:26 AM
What seems to be missed in all of this is that the protected beaches (for piping plovers) are in the 20's. What does a protected nesting site in the 20's have to do with beach replenishment in the 50's? Why can't they move the dredge from 14th street (where it apparently will not disturb the plovers) south of the protected area and resume there?
Eric Sauder February 16, 2013 at 12:38 AM
I mean I understand the time constraints but maybe someone should get clarification from the DEP? Its not like there's no activity on our beaches between March 15 and August 15.
wjs February 16, 2013 at 01:08 AM
We asked for plans last night, none given.
wjs February 16, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Please go to southendbeach.com. Email us and join the group of 400+.
wjs February 16, 2013 at 01:13 AM
In 2010 and 2012 no piping plovers in OC. In 2011, 1 pair. I love animals, even birds, but that seems like a real silly reason to put people and millions of dollars of personal property in jeopardy. Of course, the dredge is a boat, and boats do float, and we do have an ocean, so rather than lay 7 miles of pipes, as Ty Pennington would say, "move that dredge!"
Paul February 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM
The Piping Plover reason is a red herring, so to speak. What an insulting BS reason to throw at us. Boycott OC businesses, withhold taxes, refuse beach tags, are the only weapons I can think of. If nothing is done. I'm willing to participate in a series of civil and polite "stand up and walk off" the beach protests when asked for tags. Quiettly getting up and leavin will get NATIONAL attention. Not all publicity is good publicity, Mr. Mayor. At the 56th St. beach yesterday, there was MAYBE 15 feet of dry sand from the high tide line...and it was one of the lower tide height cycles. THE CITY'S NEGLECT IS A DISGRACE!
OClover February 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM
The mayor says he'll do anything he can "short of going to jail" to resolve the southend crisis. That left me wondering, "well, why not go to jail, then?" Drastic times call for drastic measures. We have to do SOMETHING to get action. If we're reduced to violent protest, people WILL be going to jail.
Southend Citizen February 16, 2013 at 12:31 PM
No one is or should be calling for violence. There are civil ways to get things done. Shame on you for invoking the thought.
Wyatt February 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Unless the piping plovers have beach tags, let the beach filling begin!
Jeff Monihan February 16, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Beach tags south of 50th street ? Not this year!
Florence Moyer February 16, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Exactly. The plover excuse is a smoke screen; when the south end beach disappeared, before Sandy, the plovers went elsewhere. And it's having the effect of people dissing the "tree huggers," instead of fixing the problem in a way that will support the economy AND protect the environment.
OClover February 16, 2013 at 03:40 PM
"There are civil ways to get things done." Such as? I'm all ears.
Eric Sauder February 16, 2013 at 04:27 PM
So smoke it out. I've been monitoring city government for at least 3 years now and there's always some reason (often unrelated) to justify what they want to do, or a reason not to do what they don't want to do (again often unrelated.) What you have to do is get beyond the spin. I've spent a good part of those past three years trying to get to the truth, and get it out there for everyone to see. Someone needs to independently confirm what is being stated.
Southender February 16, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I have owned a house at the south end since 1973. The beach I look at today is the same as when we bought. At high tide people would have to sit on either the rocks or bulkheads to get away from the water back then, similar to what they will do now. Remember, big beach little beach you are just moving around piles of sand, call it a dune or beach replenishment but its only going to be there till the next storm. If a dune had any value why doesn't insurance give a discount for living right behind it? They do for a fire hydrant.....that's because a pile of sand with sea grass isn't stopping anything from washing away.It may slow it down, but it doesn't stop it. And the materials from the dunes, fences and stakes do more damage to the houses then free flowing water. Just some thoughts...
wjs February 16, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Not exactly true Southender. A large healthy beach, with a healthy dune system full of vegetation does protect our houses and beyond that, leaves you with more beach and dune after a storm. The Stockton College Post Sandy report along with numerous federal reports supports this conclusion. Or just look at Ocean City- the parts of this Island with wide beaches and healthy dunes looked as if Sandy never occurred.
OClover February 16, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Withholding taxes is ineffective unless everyone owns their homes free and clear. Anyone who has a mortgage can't do that. The mortgage companies pay delinquent taxes for you. Then you have to reimburse them or be in default of your mortgage. Okay, okay, violent protest is not the way to go, obviously. What about non-violent? A sit in maybe? Or, better yet, a hunger strike. Most of us could probably stand to lose a few pounds in time for 'beach' season. Oh, wait.....we don't have a beach.
Southender February 16, 2013 at 08:26 PM
wjs do the dunes look better in other areas of ocean city because the dunes worked or because the dunes on those beaches did not have the storm surges we received at the south end, thus they were never challenged. If the dunes worked where are the ones that used to be in front of my house....they either work or they don't. I feel if they worked they would still be there. When you build a damn it holds the water all the time....not just in some cases, when the water is farther away
wjs February 16, 2013 at 09:15 PM
A healthy beach is two fold - first there needs to be a beach, not just a "dune". The Southend beaches were already significantly eroded prior to Sandy. The city and state were made aware of this by Stockton College which is contracted by the State to do the NJ coastal studies. The dunes there were gone by Monday 9am of the storm. The reason why is because the beach was so low and so short and the dunes not wide or full of healthy vegetation.
Anthony Pinnie February 16, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Civil disobedience is the way to go. You know those tags on the bedding that say "do not remove under penalty of law"? I just cut them off! Take that Ocean City. Just trying to add a little levity to a tense situation. I am willing to help in any way needed. I think a Memorial Day beach rally will get us some good publicity. Unfortunately, at high tide, we will all have to stand on Monihan's back deck.
Southend Citizen February 16, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Thanks for the laugh...you had me for a minute there. I like the rally idea. The city is always desperate for good publicity. Maybe the threat of an organized "Save our Beaches" rally will get them moving to avoid the bad publicity. The local Press and TV stations will eat it up. Even if they get the PR machine rolling that they restored the beaches, the buzz of tourists saying "I heard they don't have beaches this year" should scare them. Maybe even a polite "walk off' where we refuse to present beach tags and wait to be escorted? Imagine the video on channell 6!. Threats of boycotts, lawn signs, etc will at least get attention.
DD February 17, 2013 at 04:24 AM
I like how I heard on the news tonight that the army corp of engineers has begun a 3 month dredging project and ALL Ocean City beaches will be back and ready for the summer of 2013...wish they would get their facts straight!!!
Eric Sauder February 17, 2013 at 05:26 AM
I think having enough beach comes into play. My hunch is the south end dunes were vulnerable because the beach is shallow there. And I'm not sure how deep the dunes were to begin with on the south end. I would think the surge wouldn't vary that much from one end of the island to the other in a storm the size of Sandy.
Eric Sauder February 17, 2013 at 05:27 AM
The north end got hit pretty hard too.
Southend Citizen February 17, 2013 at 05:43 AM
ALL does NOT include the beaches south of 36th street, we are not part of the federal project area. The City Hall PR machine is crowing over extending the project from 14th Street to 36th. The City knows the South End needs to be a State and City funded project and is hoping to get Sandy related federal dollars so they don't have to absorb the increased cost. The Mayor and Council don't really think of the South End as part of Ocean City: they're just happy to take our tax dollars and beach tag fees and provide no services. WE need to get on the News: boycott, protest, make noise!
DSA February 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Somebody should call the station and tell them. Bad press may be a help.
disgusted by this town February 17, 2013 at 05:51 PM
The south end has been ignored forever. Fewer locals and fewer of the insiders club that runs the town and prospers from each other. Maybe we should not buy beach tags since we have no beach. Maybe we should withhold our taxes since I think we provide some 38percent of the base. The beach isn't gone because of Sandy but the Ocean and bay met during Sandy because there was no beach to begin with and tiny dunes. Come on Mayor it is way past time to take care of all the people in Oicean City not just the old club of the chosen ones.
Donna February 23, 2013 at 04:06 PM
All the talk seems to be about northend to 14th street and the southened talk is 50th to 59th. Well, what about all those streets in betweeen. Maybe they aren't in real bad shape but they need attention, too. Our 49th street beach isn't looking so good. We're ALL taxpayers and deserve equal attention. I'm appalled the southend wasn't included in the 'contract' to dredge the northened. That was in the works before Sandy hit. I just hope our island beaches are ready for the Spring/Summer. OC was spared the worst of the worst by Sandy, thank God. Not like other shore points who got hit so badly. So, let's take advantage of it by getting all our beaches ready. After all, that's the real reason families come to OC - to enjoy the beach and ocean. Maybe some of those families who frequent other shore points, visit here and realize OC is for them and then make OC their vacation spot.
Southend Citizen February 23, 2013 at 04:43 PM
You're right Donna. I think 50th street as a demarcation point for discussion is a result of where there was complete dune failure. The project is likely extending to the end of the Federally approred area (36th Street). From there down you see a gradual narrowing. The most severe is the mid fifties on down. Frankly, around 51st St.the beach width looks like it does most winters, but from a pesrpective that used to be in the middle of a dune, so we definitely lost beach. And beach goers will have to migrate North, so the squeeze will be on. The beaches tend to build up a bit on their own as we get to late Spring. And if you think about it, the streets between 17th (give or take) down to 38th or somay not need the widening. But the dunes need work anyway. And, as you mention, we all pay taxes to Washington, Trenton, and City Hall so there should be a fair process for restoration in place.

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