Extra Sand Could Put Surf City on the Hook for $700,000

Sep 26, 2017

Extra sand for beach replenishment in Surf City was agreed to in the spring, without the permission of borough officials. Who is obligated to pay for it is the question as work on a new beach replenishment project in the borough is slated to begin later this fall. The contract is expected to be awarded to Weeks Marine Inc. by Sept. 30.

“They obligated the borough to spend money,” Councilman Peter Hartney said of an agreement between the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He made the announcement during his beach report at the council’s monthly meeting Sept. 13. “They had no business doing (it).”

When the borough was first notified that its beach replenishment project from 13th Street north to about 21st Street was a go, the project was fully funded. Later, the Army Corps decided it wanted to go beyond that scope, and that’s where the borough incurred the disputed some $700,000 in cost for the sand, Hartney said Tuesday.

“There wasn’t enough federal money to do what they wanted to do,” he said, noting the borough was awarded a construction grant but there is a cost-share for the extra sand that is split with the state.

The borough does have several options, Hartney said, but the cost for the current project with the extra sand is somewhere between $700,000 and $800,000.

“We only want the free sand,” Mayor Francis Hodgson said at the borough council’s monthly meeting.

Following the storms in October 2015 and January 2016, the borough, along with Harvey Cedars and a portion of Brant Beach in Long Beach Township, were deemed eligible for restoration. At the time, there wasn’t adequate funding in the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program. When the Corps received word this past winter of supplemental federal allotments for several rehabilitation projects throughout the country, the three projects on Long Beach Island were included.

“The entire project area,” Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the Army Corps, said earlier this year, “is now eligible for the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program. The way this works: After a significant storm event, we conduct a damage assessment and determine whether the project is eligible based on certain criteria. This program is national and funds repairs to projects across the country, so if the project has been approved and if there’s adequate funding available, we would move forward to repair the project or portions of the project.”

In the meantime, negotiations on paying for the work are ongoing with the borough, according to Larry Hajna, a public information officer for the DEP. He noted the borough “does have past financial obligations” to the state environmental agency.

“It went really well,” he said of a recent meeting with borough officials. “We’re optimistic about moving forward, and are looking forward to resolving those obligations and focusing on the upcoming project.”

The town’s beaches were partially replenished during the original project in 2006. That project was completed in 2007 after beaches had to be closed due to the discovery that World War I-era munitions dumped at sea had been pumped ashore with the sand. In 2009, the blocks between 12th and 22nd streets in the borough were also repaired after a nor’easter that year. Repair work took place again in 2011, and in 2013, Surf City underwent a Hurricane Sandy restoration, according to the Army Corps.

In late November 2016, the initial construction of LBI’s dune and berm system was completed with the final leg of the work being conducted in Holgate by contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co.

Gina G. Scala


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