Time and Money Running Out on Marsh Restoration Plan in Tuckerton, Little Egg Harbor
Both Tuckerton borough and Little Egg Harbor Township need to find more money to supplement the $2.1 million National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant they received two years ago for shoreline restoration and marsh replenishment. The plan included the dredging of some lagoons and Thompson Creek, areas of the waterfront that have become impassible except at high tide.
The clock is ticking because the funding cannot be extended beyond June 2018; it’s use it or lose it – or worse, pay it back.
Recently the Osborn Island Residents Association in Little Egg Harbor wrote a letter to the township urging it to have a plan B if the project fails to materialize. They estimate the project needs an additional $2 million to be completed. The residents association and the nonprofit New Jersey Future organization also contributed $91,500 of their own money to start the permitting process.
During the April 13 municipal meeting, Ed Andrew of the OIRA read the letter into the record asking the township to use its political clout and make every effort to prompt the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to issue the permits; and to find ways to make up the $2 million shortfall. They suggest splitting it between the two towns, $1 million from Tuckerton and $1 million from Little Egg, whether by bonding, current surplus revenue or finding more grants.
“The substantial time efforts and money spent to date should not be wasted,” read Andrew. “The work must begin this summer or it will be lost.
“This work will help restore and enhance waterfront ratables and is crucial to Sandy recovery. Simply, our waterfront homes are of little value if the roads and lagoons are unusable.”
Mayor Ray Gormley said he and three other mainland mayors:,Sue Marshall of Tuckerton, Eagleswood’s Michael Pasternak and John Spodofora of Stafford, had met with Congressmen Frank LoBiondo and Tom MacArthur and state Sen. Christopher J. Connors to discuss a new idea to use dredge spoils to bolster the marsh islands that lie between Long Beach Island and the mainland. “Congressman LoBiondo assigned us a person (from his office) to look for additional federal grant money. It’s a very positive direction for all four mayors to be united together.” In addition Connors office will be looking for available state funding, said Gormley. “We’re trying; we’re doing all we can.”
Vince Phillips from North Burgee Road in Mystic Island said the mouth of his lagoon is impassable at low tide. “My boat sits in the mud. Those on Spinnaker and Ensign (roads) all have the same problem, they can’t get their boats in and out of their lagoons. If there is anything we can do, we’re here to support your effort.”
“The most important thing you have is your passion about living on the water,” said Gormley. “We all enjoy clamming, fishing, boating.”
The $2.1 million NFWF grant is a pilot program that could be used up and down the coast if it is successful, said Gormley. The location for the first trial using dredge mud to replenish the marsh is off great Bay Boulevard where the old Rand’s marina once stood, he said. “The biggest question with thin layer deposition is how quickly the (salt hay) grass will grow up through it.”
He said other pilot programs were successful along the Maurice River and in Fortesque along the Delaware Bay. Maryland, too, has been successful, planting cattails on islands in the Chesapeake, said Gormley.
“It’s trial and error. We’re hoping it will work.”
— Pat Johnson