Erosion Causes Beach Haven Beach to Disappear
Truckloads of sand began arriving Tuesday at the Marine Street beach area in Beach Haven, which has sustained severe erosion for most of the summer season.
“Kids have been jumping off the gazebo (the Pearl Street pavilion) and our dunes into the high tide,” said Toni Gamils, who owns an oceanfront condo on Marine Street. “When there’s high tide, we have no beach.”
She said that last week, borough workers took away fencing on the block between the Marine and Pearl street beaches.
“What really upset us was a remark from somebody who said that if others had signed their easements, the beach would have been replenished already and that it is our fault that our beach is so dangerous,” said Gamils.
During the spring, Beach Haven announced it had received all the necessary easement agreements from beachfront homeowners so the borough would be eligible for beach replenishment administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Who knows when that will start?” she said. “Something has to be done here because I don’t think we can wait that long.”
Gamils said that ironically, the beach held up well from Superstorm Sandy because of dune grass and various indigenous shrubs and bushes planted last year.
Ken Spinner, another Marine Street resident, said the erosion problem has not existed all summer.
“I was down here on Memorial Day weekend; it was fine, but now we have no beach,” he said. “I have to walk a few blocks to get to a beach because the one we would normally have has been pretty much washed away.”
George Gilbert, public works superintendent, said the erosion problems stem from frequent south winds, which affect the beach on the north side of a jetty.
“Every summer, we usually have some trouble spots,” he said.
Gamils said she asked the borough about geotubes, which were installed two years ago to stabilize dunes in the Nelson and Merivale avenue areas on the south end of town.
“Those two areas always suffered erosion after storms,” said Borough Manager Richard Crane. “What we have at Marine Street is not quite that bad, but we did have to close access to the Pearl Street pavilion because people jumping into the water from there is an unsafe situation. Somebody could get seriously hurt.”
Crane said the geotube project came at a time when beach replenishment remained an uncertainty.
“But with all the easements signed, it would absolutely make no sense to spend money on geotubes,” he said. “When we get beach replenishment is also uncertain. We have not heard any timetable yet from the Army Corps.”
Steve Rochette, Army Corps spokesman, said the Corps would soon conduct preliminary studies of the borough’s beaches to come up with a design plan. He would expect it to be similar to the projects completed in Surf City, Harvey Cedars and a portion of the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township. Although he said the costs have not been determined, the Corps would fund 65 percent of the project, with the balance coming from “non-federal” sources – the state, county and municipality.
“Our goal would be to have the project done before next summer, but right now, I can’t say that with any certainty,” said Rochette.
Crane said sand for Marine Street is being brought in by the Sahara Sand Co. of Eagleswood Township. He said most of the estimated costs of between $50,000 to $60,000 would be covered by a state Department of Environmental Protection coastal engineering grant.
“By the end of the week, we’re hoping they can enjoy their beach again,” he said.
— Eric Englund