With progress coms sacrifice – but Ortley Beach residents and beachgoers will face what many consider a small inconvenience in exchange for a secured dune system that will prevent ocean breaches in storms and protect homes on both sides of Barnegat Bay.
Still, some residents have expressed opposition to holding the beach replenishment project after Seaside Heights successfully lobbied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (and their state counterparts) to delay the project in consideration of the significance of the tourism industry as well as the unique challenges faced by the borough due to its boardwalk entrances to the sand.
Councilwoman Maria Maruca said in her latest meeting with representatives from the Army Corps, Ortley Beach will undergo a beach replenishment a dune-building project that will begin in late May.
“It’s going to be an inconvenience for some of our residents, but the schedule is subject to change,” Maruca said.
Ultimately, while there will undoubtedly be some inconveniences, the solution for beachgoers will likely be as simple as moving over one block for a few days while work is done on their favorite beach.
The exact amount of time a block of beach is closed depends, in part, by the quantities of sand required to build the engineered dune and berm template. Some areas require substantially more sand than others, which impacts the amount of time to complete beachfill operations in certain areas. However, typically the contractor advances 100-300 feet per day depending on weather, dredging production and other factors. During construction, communities can expect the construction crews to close no more than 1,000 feet of beach as work progresses along the island (closed sections are “rolling” and advance as the beachfill progresses along the island). That’s 2-3 blocks max, according to engineers working on the project who have spoken to Shorebeat.
Residents seem to be taking the news in stride, especially after seeing how last year’s emergency replenishment progressed.
“Last summer, it went a thousands feet at a time and it didn’t seem to bother anybody,” said Anthony Colucci, president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association, which has supported the project. “The sea gulls loved it,” he joked.
Seaside Heights asked for the project to be delayed not only because its dependence on tourism for its tax base and livelihood of many residents. Another issue is that Seaside Heights had fixed boardwalk entrances to the beach that were already removed since the project was supposed to kick off in the fall. Unlike other towns, essentially all of the access points need to be removed before work can begin.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said last week that work in his town would begin in late August, or potentially after Labor Day if crews face additional delays elsewhere.