Save Critical Project
The following was read at the Little Egg Harbor Township Committee meeting April 13.
To Mayor Gormley, the Township Committee and residents of Little Egg Harbor:
Osborn Island residents are asking that the committee and professionals of Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton make every effort to complete and fund the proposed National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Marsh Restoration/Dredging Project that will benefit many lagoon areas on the east and west side of Radio Road and save Iowa Court and its cul-de-sac from inundation. This work will help restore and enhance waterfront ratables and is critical to Sandy recovery. Simply, our waterfront homes are of little value if the roads and lagoons are unusable.
After over three years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, the project was submitted for state Department of Environmental Protection permitting on Feb. 23. Thank you to New Jersey Future, BRS Inc., T&M Engineering, the mayors and governing bodies of both towns and the volunteers who have worked so hard to get it this far.
The proposed marsh restoration and living shoreline work will use the lagoon dredge materials from Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton. Specifics of the work are still being determined. However, it is known that the scope of work has been expanded and costs driven dramatically higher by DEP and environmental requirements. Therefore, the current grants will be insufficient to cover anticipated costs. Additionally, those grants will not be extended beyond June 2018.
Assuming the DEP permit is approved and issued timely, work on this project can and must begin late this summer. Funding must be in place. Our local and state politicians should be making every effort now to assure all the work proposed is approved by the DEP and is funded when approved. They should be contacting the DEP through political contacts all the way up to and above Sen. Connors to ensure that they understand the importance of this work to both Little Egg and Tuckerton. They should be appealing to the DEP to approve the work, reduce any fees where possible and provide additional grant funding to assist in getting this work done.
As you know, in May 2015 LEHT and Tuckerton received a grant for $2,137,000 plus a matching contribution of $91,500 injected into the project by New Jersey Future and the Osborn Island Residents Association to start this project. Currently, as proposed, the shortfall to complete the work may exceed $2 million. This shortfall should be split proportionately by both municipalities. The work can be funded by current revenues, bonding or more grants, some of which have been applied for. The point is, restoring and recovering waterfront ratable values is critical to the stability and growth of the town and its tax base. The substantial time, effort and money spent to date should not be wasted.
We ask that you begin working diligently now, for the benefit of all the township taxpayers, to meet any shortfall funding obligations and assure that this work gets done before this unique opportunity and the existing grants that support more than half the proposed costs disappear. We ask that you prepare a backup funding plan now and get it in place and approved so work can start as soon as the DEP and related permits are issued. The grant expires in June 2018. The work takes months and is severely restricted by regulations that limit the months in which the work can be done for environmental reasons. The work must begin this summer or it will be lost.
Please come up with a plan and keep us apprised of your efforts, progress and success.
Osborn Island Residents Association