Long-Awaited Lagoon Dredging on Osborn Island Picks Up Steam

Jun 20, 2018

Little Egg Harbor Township has advertised for contractors to bid on maintenance dredging of the lagoons on Osborn Island. The long-awaited project was announced during the June 14 municipal meeting. According to the June 19 published bid notice in the Asbury Park Press, the scope of the work includes removing and disposing of 16,362 cubic yards of material from (three) manmade lagoons to be completed by Dec. 21, 2018, and the project will be funded by Little Egg Harbor Township. An award will be made within 60 days of opening the bids. Township Engineer Jason Worth of T&M Associates developed contract plans.

The township committee voted on ordinance 2018-12 to appropriate $4 million in bonds to finance the project. During the vote on the ordinance, Committeeman David Schlick asked for more details. “I’m not against the dredging; I just need the specifics before I sign off on $4 million,” he said. Schlick asked why not $2 million. “I remember hearing the cost would be $244,000 per cubic yard, and there is something like 16,000 cubic yards.”

Mayor Ray Gormley said the $4 million was the upper reaches of the estimated cost of the project. “We won’t know the actual cost till the bidding is done,” he said.

Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said to remember that although the bids may come in lower than $4 million, “It’s more expensive when the government does it because they have to pay prevailing wages, so we have to build in more money.”

The township will pay for the cost of the dredging by imposing a special assessment on the waterfront owners on Osborn Island. The assessment could be stretched over 10 years but not more, said Business Administrator Garrett Loesch, based on the bond council’s advice.

The length of bonding for municipal projects is based on the “useful life” of the project.

“We know the useful life of a garbage truck or a road, but there is no defined useful life in dredging a lagoon,” he said.

Schlick asked if the residents had been able to vote on whether they want to incur this addition to their taxes as was discussed over the past year. Gormley said no because the township has to wait until it gets the bids back to know how much it will be.

“First we will give them a presentation and then give them the opportunity to cast a vote,” he said.

Cipriani added that if the bids are reasonable, the project would go ahead regardless, and the governing body would impose the assessment. “But they want to hear from the residents.”

Gormley said the township should receive the bids by July 10, and a public hearing with Osborn Island residents is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the community center. “We ask that just one member of a household be present because space is limited. We were going to have it at Pinelands (Regional High School), but the school will be closed for construction.”

A vacant property at the end of Kentucky Drive on Osborn Island will be used as a staging area. And although the permit for dredging states the disposal site for the material is in Corbin City, Atlantic County, Gormley said the companies bidding on the project can indicate a different DEP approved disposal site. Efforts to use the closed regional dump on Stafford Forge Road went nowhere as the Pinelands Commission has said it could not be used, he added.

In related news, the committee passed a resolution awarding a contract not to exceed $20,500 to T&M Associates to do the survey engineering for a permit to dredge 10 lagoons in the “Mystic Island Phase One” section of town, from East Anchor to South Burgee Drive on the east side of Radio Road. This area has already been sampled for contaminants and found to be acceptable material.

A resident from South Captains Drive, west of Radio Road, asked, “So there is a different permit for each section of Mystic?” and was told yes.

Dave Fuller, a member of the dredging committee of the Osborn Island Residents Association and a long-time proponent of lagoon dredging, asked about the Iowa Court shoreline restoration, already permitted by the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps and funded by a DEP grant. The project is waiting for a tidelands license, said Worth. “Once we have that, we will go out to bid very soon,” he said.

Last on the subject of dredging tidal mud and places to put it, Gormley said the DEP is reopening two historical confined storage facilities in the bay, one on Story Island and another at the mouth of the Tuckerton Creek, but will be using them when dredging areas of the bay.

“They said we could pay to use it (for de-watering dredge material), but whatever you put in, you have to take out again.”

— Pat Johnson




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