The beach replenishment and dune-building project on Ocean County’s northern barrier island is experiencing some more scheduling changes, according to officials.
Last week, Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said he now fears delays could mean replenishment could be attempted during the summer tourist season – a disaster for borough businesses since entrances to the sand from the boardwalk have already been removed since the project was scheduled for the winter.
Vaz said over the weekend, after an article was published on Shorebeat detailing the concerns, he heard from the deputy chief of staff for new Gov. Phil Murphy, as well as the chief of staff for Rep. Tom MacArthur. Both pledged to work with the borough to find a resolution. Vaz said the borough is keeping all options on the table to delay the project until fall if it cannot be completed during the winter and spring.
In Ortley Beach, a summer project is looking even more likely, since the dredge boats that are scheduled to replenish Seaside Heights beaches will move northward to Ortley after completion.
Though it may be an inconvenience, only about 1,000 feet of beachfront – a block or two – will be closed at a time, and generally only for a few days. Ortley Beach does not have the same access point issues as Seaside Heights.
“We don’t expect the southern dredge ship to be around the Ortley area until June – after they do Seaside Heights,” said Toms River Councilwoman Maria Maruca. “When they did the small replenishment project [last summer], it was scheduled for April 1 and they did not end up putting sand there until June 1.”
The North Beach section of the township’s island portion will see a dredge boat arrive mid-February for work. Maruca said a priority will be to build a strong berm and dunes near the point where the sea wall that spans Mantoloking and Brick ends at the Toms River border on 5th Avenue in Normandy Beach.
All projects are subject to timing changes, said Stephen Rochette, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District, which is overseeing the project.
“It’s important to note that the current schedule is an estimate and subject to change based on weather, mechanical issues and overall progress,” he said.
“There may be a little pain to get some gain on this one,” Maruca said, of the timing of the closures in Ortley Beach. “But I believe that dune replenishment will give residents of the barrier island, and also on the mainland, the peace of mind they deserve.”