Surf City Citizen Committee Must Provide Plan for Beautification Project

Aug 15, 2018

Members of the Surf City Taxpayers Association who want to beautify beach entrances between 15th and 18th streets on the ocean side may have run into a road block. When the borough council learned last week the work was being done without permission, it unanimously passed a resolution that would cease the work until a sketch and detailed plan are presented to officials.

Once a plan is presented, Councilman James Russell, who chairs the public property and lifeguards committee, will meet with a separate committee to determine the fate of beautifying the beach entrances.

In July, members of the taxpayers association addressed the council about wanting to undertake a project that would see, among other things, flower plantings at the beach entrances. At that time, there was no set plan for when or how they would accomplish this task. In fact, they were looking for volunteers.

“You can’t just do what you want without permission,” Mayor Francis Hodgson said during the Aug. 8 council meeting. “If something happens to someone, we’d get sued. You need insurance.”

The street ends are shallow in the area of 15th through 18th streets, and there is a concern the work would require community members to trespass on private property without permission, Hodgson said.

Officials said they heard through the head of public works that the beautification committee wants to add bicycle racks to spruce up the areas.

“I am concerned about where the bicycles go,” said Councilman Pete Hartney, who chairs the beaches and environmental committee. “Anything beyond the barrier cannot be touched.”

Just last week, Weeks Marine Inc. completed a beach replenishment project in the borough, tapering off the work a few streets south into Ship Bottom for a smooth transition. The three streets currently under consideration for beautification were part of the project.

Where a dune begins is a land use issue generally debated between a coastal town and the state Department of Environmental Protection. However, the bottom line, in terms of a federal project, is: “there is no digging or excavating of any kind within the federal project foot print without prior approval and permitting,” said Steve Rochette, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. —G.G.S.

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