Posted on May 25, 2023
With hopes high for the summer tourist economy in 2023, the borough is going to have a wide, new beach for visitors to enjoy.
Other communities will not be in as good a shape.
A federal project just added nearly 600,000 cubic yards of sand to Avalon beaches from Ninth Street to 27th Street.
The work now moves to Stone Harbor, which will also see its beaches rebuilt with sand from offshore shoals, pumped up by the dredge Texas.
Avalon officials added that the work was completed just weeks before the start of the hurricane season and the summer tourist season.
The federal rationale for funding beach replenishment projects is to protect lives and property from coastal storms. Having robust dunes and a wide beach helps reduce the impact of hurricanes, nor’easters and other storms, but the economic benefits of having a beach wide enough for miles of blankets and umbrellas are undeniable.
Early this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a $28.8 million contract with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company of Oak Brook, Illinois, to rebuild the beach and dunes of Stone Harbor and Avalon.
The contract called for 231,000 cubic yards of sand to be added to Avalon beaches, followed by another 464,000 cubic yards to be placed on Stone Harbor beaches from 90th Street to 123rd Street, with the costs to be shared among the municipal, federal and state governments.
“Beach fill projects are perfect illustrations on how federal, state and local governments can work together for the betterment of communities,” said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi. “This project could not have been timed better and provides a protective and recreational beach in advance of the summer storm and tourism seasons.”
He said the community was grateful to the Army Corps and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for completing the work before Memorial Day weekend and the June 1 start of hurricane season.
The project began April 17 and continued 24 hours a day, seven days a week until completion May 12. The only delay was a coastal storm that forced the dredge into safe harbor until rough seas subsided.
With the conclusion of the Avalon portion of the work, the pipes leading from the dredge to Stone Harbor will be submerged well off Avalon’s beaches, according to borough officials.
A booster pump for the Stone Harbor project will be visible off the Avalon beachfront near 31st Street.
According to Steve Rochette, a spokesperson for the Army Corps’ Philadelphia office, the Stone Harbor portion of the work will likely begin next week.
This year, Ocean City saw its 10th beach replenishment project along its Boardwalk, under a $21.5 million contract completed in February, with sand pumped in from the north end to 14th Street.
The rest of that barrier island is expected to gain sand as part of an additional project after the summer, with beaches in Strathmere and Sea Isle City also set to be replenished under a project expected to cost about $30 million, also divided among federal, state and local sources.
Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio told residents that most beaches are in good shape for the summer, with some local work undertaken to add sand south of 88th Street. Ocean City’s beaches appear to be fine for the summer, which leaves Upper Township, where the Strathmere section has again seen serious erosion.
Several beach paths have been blocked off because of steep cliffs in the dunes.
Members of the Upper Township Committee discussed the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University’s most recent report on the Strathmere beach, but as of Monday that report had not been posted to the township website.
“It doesn’t really say anything that you can’t see,” township engineer Paul Dietrich told committee members: There is little beach left at high tide in the north end, although some sections of the Strathmere beach have gained sand.
The Coastal Research Center’s report for 2022 indicates the Army Corps project “will provide an exceptionally large measure of long-term protection,” with plans for decades’ worth of periodic replenishment projects.
But in this case, the replenishment will come after the end of the tourist season.
“Southern Ocean City, Sea Isle City and Strathmere won’t take place before fall 2023,” Rochette said.
The websites of the DEP and the Army Corps indicated yet another beach project is on the way in Cape May County, with the latest round of work expected in Cape May this winter.
That was the first federal beach project in the state, and the first to include a 50-year commitment from the Army Corps to keep sand on the beaches through 2039.
That leaves the Wildwoods without a beach project so far. In the north end of that barrier island, North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello has sought to accelerate a proposed island-wide project, or at least get sand added to his beaches.
For the past several years, North Wildwood has been trucking sand from the wider beaches in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest to shore up the area close to the inlet, but erosion from an autumn storm made that impossible this year.
On Monday, Rosenello said he was thanking God for a relatively mild winter storm season.
“Hoping it holds,” he said.