Little Egg Harbor Receives $400,000 Grant for Iowa Court Shoreline

Sep 15, 2017

Little Egg Harbor Township Mayor Ray Gormley saved the best news for the last few minutes of the Sept. 14 township committee meeting when he announced the township has received a $400,000 state water quality restoration grant to bolster the shoreline along Iowa Court on Osborn Island.

Iowa Court has been rebuilt since Oct. 29, 2012, when Superstorm Sandy roared into town. The street on the eastern edge of the marsh took the brunt of the storm surge that knocked out lower levels of homes and completely destroyed others.

In 2015, the township and Tuckerton borough were able to get a $2.13 million grant for shoreline restoration from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a number of projects including a “living shoreline” proposed for the eroded salt marsh fronting Iowa Court. However, after spending much of the grant money on engineering, as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency required, the project was said to have a shortfall of $2 million.

A nonprofit had applied in 2017 for a $1,595,000 Water Quality Restoration Grant as well as a $1 million National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration grant.

Gormley said after the meeting that the DEP does expect to supply permits for Iowa Court separate from the entire project.

According to a report by BRS, the firm responsible for getting the grant and through the efforts of New Jersey Future, a nonprofit, they had applied to the DEP water quality restoration grants program in May for the 2017 funding cycle. The grant request was for $1,595,000 to assist with the construction of the living shoreline, the dredge and marsh restoration project, and an expected four- to five-year post-construction monitoring program. The DEP awarded $400,000 for construction and three years of post-construction monitoring for the living shoreline project only and is expected to cover just about all of the expense of building and monitoring the living shoreline at Iowa Court.

“Although NJDEP found the marsh restoration project worthy of funding on its merits, they were reluctant to provide the funding until remaining issues regarding the permit application for the work at the Great Bay Blvd. Wildlife Management Area had been further resolved. The funding cycle for 2018 is scheduled to begin in November, at which time a new application may be submitted for additional funding,” read the report.

Meanwhile, residents of Stage Road and Giffordtown Lane received good news earlier in the meeting when Ocean County Director of Engineering John Ernst said the county would not switch the right-of-ways at that intersection after all. It will remain a four-way-stop with all drivers stopping and then yielding to the first car to reach the intersection.

“Today, it went back to a four-way-stop and will remain a four-way-stop in the near future,” said Ernst. The engineer said his department had done a traffic study on the intersection and found that more people traveled Gifford Lane than Stage Road and that was why the county attempted the change to favor Gifford Lane traffic. However, after receiving a number of complaints, and the fact the intersection had been a red blinking stop on Gifford and a yellow slow on Stage for such a long time, a four-way stop was found more appropriate.

“At this time there is not enough traffic to warrant a traffic signal,” added Ernst.

Gormley asked if Ernst had an update on the proposed park and ride commuter parking lot at Interchange 58 of the Garden State Parkway and County Route 539.

Ernst said the project had been held up while waiting for a certificate of compliance from the Pinelands Commission. “We expect that certificate any day now,” he said.

The township introduced two ordinances, to establish a “no knock” registry that would regulate real estate solicitations and to amend the standards for grading and drainage. Public hearings on the ordinances are usually held the next meeting date, in this case Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

The township committee also passed a resolution that amends the spending plan for the Affordable Housing Trust, a plan that was court-ordered in April. The township is required to rehabilitate 125 units of affordable housing stock that is substandard with grants or low-interest loans averaging $10,000. Previous language held that $10,000 was the limit to spend on any one applicant but the amendment allows for spending above the $10,000, if it is needed to bring the unit up to 2017 building codes. Apartment units would also be included.

The township and other South Jersey municipalities are due back in superior court on Sept. 29 for an affordable housing “check-up,” said township attorney Jean Cipriani.

There was discussion over the township’s decision to extend the Tri-Eagle Energy aggregation program one more year. In Little Egg, residents are automatically enrolled in Tri-Eagle to handle billing instead of Atlantic City Electric, unless they opt out. AC Electric still supplies the energy. Tri-Eagle aggregate is supposed to save residents 10 to 15 percent of their energy costs. Tri-Eagle is not allowed to charge more than AC Electric bills.

Mayor Ray Gormley said he averages a savings of $40 a month on his home electric bill.

Committeeman Dave Schlick was the only “no” vote on the energy aggregate extension resolution.

The township committee voted to accept bids for “building access restriction devices,” or a keyless entry system for town hall. The township already has such a system but is looking to change it. Cipriani said the system would cost more than the $17,500 spending limit for no-bid projects by municipalities, and that was why the resolution was needed.

During the public portion, Peter Okun, a member of the Great Bay Regional EMS, which covers Little Egg, New Gretna and Eagleswood, said the squad is in need of two new ambulances.

Okun noted that the township budgeted $70,000 for the squad in 1999 when it was formed and has continued to fund it at the same rate. He suggested the amount be increased, but Cipriani said the township was constrained by state statute that limits all municipalities to an annual contribution of $70,000 or less for EMS services.

Okun compared this figure to the three fire companies in Little Egg that are run through fire taxing districts. He estimated their budgets at $1.8 million.

He said Great Bay typically handles between 2,000 and 2,500 calls a year. The all-volunteer squad has a 2004 ambulance with 150,000 miles on it, a 2010 ambulance with over 100,000 miles and a 2006 ambulance obtained from army surplus that has only 25,000 miles because it was only used within a base.

“Great Bay EMS is in need of two ambulances which have a cost of about $150,000 for a new one and about $90,000 for a remount. I believe the town should fund a bond in the amount of $200,000 and the squad should come up with the balance of $41,000 from their reserves.”

Cipriani noted that equipment could be purchased outside of the $70,000 funding limit.

“Unfortunately, the towns are strapped for money,” said Gormley, noting the emergency roof repairs to the community center and town hall were unexpected expenditures.

In a telephone call on Monday, the mayor said the township is working on funding the 5 percent needed to bond for an ambulance as part of the 2018 budget.

Township Engineer Jason Worth said the township is looking at roads needing repairs to submit to the state Department of Transportation Trust fund. The application is due Oct. 6.

Worth said the township has been working toward community rating system certification through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He and construction officials Mark Ellis and Diane Galuppo had met with FEMA in August and the town could expect certification by April. He estimated residents in flood zones could expect a savings of between 15 and 20 percent on their flood insurance.

Deputy Mayor Bobbi Jo Crea thanked tax collector Dana Wilson and tax assessor Joe Sorrentino for their help in holding a workshop on disabled veterans tax reimbursements and registration for the senior tax freeze.

“We had sixty to seventy people show up on a rainy Wednesday, and we had veterans who didn’t know they were eligible for the veterans discount and seniors who were eligible for the tax freeze. “It’s my mission to make sure you have everything your entitled to,” said Crea.

Medicare Part D Day is Thursday, Nov. 2 from 9:30 to 4 p.m. when seniors can register for one-on-one assistance in choosing their Medicare Part D plan. Residents from Little Egg, Tuckerton and Eagleswood are invited to call Linda at 609-296-7241, extension 235.

— Pat Johnson









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