Work on Beach and Dune Replenishment in Toms River Not Likely Until 2016
Almost three years after Sandy, residents of Toms River's Barrier Island are being informed by Township officials that the Army Corps of Engineers stalled Beach and Dune Replenishment project isn't likely to happen until spring, 2106 at the earliest.
Toms River Councilman George Whittman said the Township contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and was informed that the earliest the project could go out to bid would be at the end of 2015, which means worrying through another hurricane season and winter without adequate beach and dune protection.
"We're concerned about beach erosion, we're concerned about potential damage to infrastructure because of the fact that the dunes are still not in place and the 200 foot of beach that we expected to have in place by now, still is not in front of our properties," said Whittman.
The state must obtain about 100 remaining easements before bidding can begin, according to Whittman.
"And in some cases, the state hasn't even started on the work to get the easements," he said explaining, "In order to get the easements, you have to first get a survey completed and then an appraisal done, and then you have to offer the value of the appraisal to the property owner before you can go into condemnation proceedings, and we're not clear as to how many of those have actually taken place" Whittman said.
Once bidding begins and based on the project's schedule, Whittman added, "It could take through 2017 before we'll actually see a dune completed."
By federal law, the project can not be broken up into sections because of the way it was funded. However, due to pending lawsuits in Point Pleasant, Whittman said the state is looking into having it bid on as one project with "options" for Point Pleasant into Mantoloking. Doing so, he said, would allow the work to be still be funded as one project, but have it start south of Mantoloking down to Berkeley Township.
"Whether it actually happens or not, we're not certain, but that's what the proposal is from the DEP," said Whittman.
The state has been providing sand during the interim, but Whittman pointed out, a northeast storm could could cause potential harm to Toms River without the permanent protection.
Whitman is urging homeowners to continue putting pressure on the state DEP to get the necessary easements and get the project bid by the end of the year.
"Any further delay is unacceptable and puts Toms River at risk. Our residents have suffered enough, and three years is more than enough to get these easements considering that Toms River has had easements in hand for all but a few parcels since the spring of 2014," he added.
Although the Barrier Island remains unprotected from future storms, rebuilding continues. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Seaview Condominium building in Ortley Beach destroyed in 2012 during Sandy was held last week.
Oak Hill Construction and Development Group, TMK Property Management, Toms River officials and homeowners were on hand for the event for the 23 unit luxury condominium to be constructed at 1935 Ocean Avenue.
The original complex required demolition and environmental cleanup prior to redevelopment.
Seaview Condominiums is the largest multi-unit residential building to be rebuilt since the storm.