Stalled Army Corps Beach Replenishment Project costing Toms River
Toms River is being forced to spend $500,000 to replenish protective sand dunes that washed away during the January 26 Nor’easter as a temporary fix while the federal Army Corps of Engineers Project remains stalled due to easement holdouts, according to Township Engineer Robert Chankalian. The dunes that were swept out to sea cost $400,000 to build.
The Township’s coast has been faring well so far this winter as far as breaches. However, last month’s storm did cause erosion of a 13-foot high dune along a section of Ortley Beach, according to Chankalian.
Sand was scheduled to be trucked in Monday to replenish the dunes.
Chankalian said replenishing the sand is a stop gap until the Corps' project moves forward.
Toms River municipal attorney Ken Fitzsimmons said there are five remaining holdouts and one deficiency in the Township, which counts as a hold-out for the purpose of condemning the property.
“We have already commenced activities through retaining an appraiser who has done his work and outside counsel who is doing the condemnation. So, we’ve been at this project for almost a year,” said Fitzsimmons.
The Township has no control over the timing of the Corp’s project though.
“We make inquiry on a repetitive basis to the DEP [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection] and to the Army Corps of Engineers, but the feedback we get is that the project will commence,” said Fitzsimmons. “The reason that we're given is that the Army Corps has to gather sufficient easements in order to commence the project from the Manasquan Inlet to the Barnegat Inlet, and they are having substantial difficulty in Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head,” he added.
Fitzsimmons said he could not answer how long it could take Toms River to finalize its remaining easements, but said they have been told by the NJDEP that the Township is in good position on the easement question.