Seaside Park this week has formally submitted an application to the state to perform a repair project at an area along the bayfront that has been prone to dangerous erosion in recent years.
The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice opening a public comment period from Sept. 6 through Oct. 5 on a plan to shore up the area at the southern edge of the 14th Avenue pier area, near the municipal border with Berkeley Township (South Seaside Park).
The shoreline stabilization project will include the westerly end of the unimproved right-of-way of 14th Avenue, DEP said in its announcement of the opening of the comment period for a CAFRA permit. The project involves the installation of rock filled gabion baskets at the end of the existing bulkhead to repair shoreline erosion due to storm damage. CAFRA refers to the Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act, a set of laws in New Jersey that places significant regulations on any construction projects in designated coastal areas. The permits are notoriously slow to obtain.
The erosion, officials have said, is located next to a small dock used for kayak launches at the foot of the 14th Avenue pier in Barnegat Bay. Last year, the borough appointed a professional engineering firm to handle the design of a project that will repair the erosion and implement a permanent fix that will prevent the area from being undermined by the bay.
“The situation has risen to what is best described as an emergency,” said Councilman Frank “Fritz” McHugh at the time. “It’s also been thoroughly discussed in the environmental committee, whose membership was very concerned about the situation.”
The issue in the area surrounds the terrain just south of the pier, on the borough-owned property that borders the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley Township. The terrain in the area has suffered from chronic erosion in such a way that the integrity of the shoreline, surrounding bulkheads and structures could begin to deteriorate quickly. Because of the gravity of the situation – and also because the property backs up to the border with another town – Seaside Park officials decided to hire an engineering firm to design the fix.
Borough crews will perform the actual construction work, which will likely include the installation of a Gabion-style retaining wall. Gabion is a company that manufactures a number of wall elements, and has used its “erosion basket” system to success in controlling flooding in other parts of the country.
“It’s at the boundary of another town and a private property, so we thought it would be best to have the guidance of an engineering firm,” said McHugh. “There are a lot of boundaries here and we don’t want to expose ourselves to the potential liability.”
Mayor John Peterson said the area of particular concern is located near the access stairs to the bay, where trees could soon be lost if the ground degrades further. He also said the fix will likely include the a Gabion or similar style retaining wall. The fix should end the issue of chronic erosion in the area after years of patchwork.
“They’ve been filling it in for years and it’s gotten really bad,” said McHugh. “There was another engineering firm that went out in an attempt to address the problem and almost made it worse. It has to be done right so we don’t have to keep going back and addressing it.”
According to officials, the terrain in the area has suffered from chronic erosion in such a way that the integrity of the shoreline, surrounding bulkheads and structures could begin to deteriorate quickly if a fix is not applied. Because of the gravity of the situation – and also because the property backs up to the border with Berkeley Township – Seaside Pard decided to hire an engineering firm to design the fix.
Borough crews will perform the actual construction work, which will include the installation of a Gabion-style retaining wall. Gabion is a company that manufactures a number of wall elements, and has used its “erosion basket” system to success in controlling flooding in other parts of the country.
Borough Administrator Karen Kroon said earlier this summer that it is generally supposed to take 120 days to have a CAFRA permit approved, however it is not uncommon for the process to take a greater period of time.
The borough’s public works department has already sourced the project equipment and is ready to make the repairs as soon as a permit is issued.
“It will be a little laborious – a lot of it is hand-work since you can’t get a machine in there,” Kroon said.
In early 2022, the engineering firm CME Associates was selected to design the project. The plans are available for inspection at town hall, the DEP said.
A 30-day public comment period will begin with publication in the DEP Bulletin on September 6, 2023, and will continue for thirty (30) calendar days. Your written comments must be submitted to the Department by the end of the 30-day comment period. Comments are to be sent to: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Land Resource Protection, P.O. Box 420, Code 501-02A, Trenton, New Jersey 08625, Attn: Seaside Park Borough, Ocean County