To the Editor:
Due to the demands of our summer clientele, I have been unable to respond to the Aug. 22 letter (“Easement Fallacies”) sent to me via The SandPaper by Bill Hutson, owner of Lorry’s Island End Motel in Holgate. I have never met Mr. Hutson, and I must correct his assumption that I have not read the letter he referred to as “the June 10 clarification letter (of) two years ago from the Army Corps of Engineers to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Long Beach Township Mayor Mancini,” regarding the Long Beach Island Hurricane Storm Damage Reduction Project, a.k.a. beach replenishment.
On the contrary, I not only read and understood it, I have had it reviewed legally and by several other oceanfront property owners. The words “in perpetuity” and “assignable” remain as points of contention. Under the guise of beach replenishment, the government is trying to take the most valuable part of our land. We say no to that. We continue to ask that there be a time-frame for the work to be accomplished, and once that is done we are more than willing to sign. It is our constitutional right to own our property, and we should not be threatened or coerced into this land grab.
It seems to me that Mr. Hutson has become a member of Mayor Mancini’s team by trying to place pressure on us to sign through public humiliation by use of your newspaper. After all, Mayor Mancini has even placed the names of owners who have not signed the easement document within the township on the town’s website, longbeachtownship.com. I see that as coercion.
As to the replenishment project, the experiment has been a flop so far as I can see. Surf City lost most all of its pumped-in sand in that first winter. Ship Bottom doesn’t need it because much of Surf City’s sand washed onto our beaches. And need I remind anyone of the dangerous explosives that were pumped into the dunes and beaches and had to be removed at great expense to taxpayers? Later, pumped-in sand was lost from Brant Beach, some of the overwash added to the Ship Bottom beach during tumultuous storms. Millions of dollars are spent to pump sand, and that sand moves and disappears. Erosion will not be stopped; it is part of the ecosystem of barrier islands.
Every fall we ask that a portion of beach badge funds be used for fencing and sand to protect the dunes. That is the responsibility of every town mayor. Waiting for federal funds without planning and using our own resources seems like a lost opportunity to add protection. We should all be part of the same team in the matter.
Mr. Hutson’s letter shows no changes to the situation since the original 2005 meeting with officials at St. Francis Center. The Army Corps and the DEP have given us unreasonable demands and they have been unwilling to negotiate. Mr. Hutson points out that Congress could “de-authorize” the project. Congress is not known for calling a halt to spending taxpayer money for projects.
The local politicians from Harvey Cedars to Holgate see the prospect of federal funds coming in and somehow the project never ends. The politicians’ control of our property will go on “in perpetuity.” At some point the letter of “clarification” gets forgotten and the government starts doing anything that it deems “for the good of the public,” maybe including boardwalks, bathrooms, food stands or whatever. It has happened in other communities and it can happen here if we don’t fight back.
I find it difficult to understand how anyone can truly believe that oceanfront homeowners would not want the dunes and beaches cared for and nurtured. We love this island and have called it home for more than 40 years. Small cottages have grown into larger homes to accommodate growing families. Generation after generation has been taught to respect and care for the precious shoreline. Every homeowner from ocean to bay stands to lose plenty.
Contrary to public opinion, we are not talking about privacy or ocean views. We simply don’t want to lose the best part of our land. Oceanfront owners, who have been pressured, bullied and threatened to sign the easement, are not standing in the way of help for our beaches. We actually are leading the fight to retain the beauty and uniqueness of Long Beach Island.