Holdouts Not Budging On Easements [AUDIO]
The 11-mile-long oceanfront dune project remains up in the air, thanks to hundreds of holdouts, refusing to sign easements.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot and will not start the work till they get them signed, sealed and delivered.
It's been a frustrating time for communities from the Manasquan to Barnegat Inlets, while officials have been trying a variety of tactics to appeal to property owners.
This ranges from the nice to the mean, from the simple to the complex. Everything from asking nicely to urging neighbors to put pressure on them for their blessings.
While many of the holdouts are concerned about the government controlling the land, we've heard from both the Army Corps and Governor Chris Christie himself that it's not the case. They only have the public safety in mind. With that being said, so far, no dice on the appeal.
The project could be vital to the health and well-being of the shore. With so many rebuilding their homes and businesses, what happens when another storm comes our way? Nor'easters are quite common in our area and the dunes can help during those types of weather events too.
On Long Beach Island, work has already begun on some of the dunes and replenishment projects. They are skipping the places where there were owners refusing to sign.
"The Army Corps is carrying out this near-term coastal restoration work through two statutory authorities, one previously existing and one that is new since Hurricane Sandy through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013," Spokesman Steve Rochette says.
"You can clearly see from the Sandy damage that the towns that had dunes didn't see as much damage as their neighbors. And you're talking literally a short block away."
In the weeks after Sandy, it became known that the communities that had dunes in place were spared some of the most serious damage.
The state DEP has been in touch with the Army Corps and they hope to start the ball rolling on the ambitious project.
There is no definitive deadline as to when the federal aid would be stopped and the project cancelled. They are hoping it doesn't come to that.