High level meeting in Bay Head focuses on severe and catastrophic beach erosion.

Posted on February 17, 2021

Smith: “18’ cliffs” in Bay Head pose significant safety risk

Bay Head NJ—The new 18-foot vertical sand dune cliffs in Bay Head caused by beach erosion from recent Winter Storm Orlena pose significant safety concerns—especially for children who are at grave risk of plunging over and suffering serious injury or death.

Mayor Bill Curtis, Army Corps Commander Lt. Colonel Park, NJDEP’s Bill Dixon, Ocean County Commissioner Joe Vicari, Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano, and members of the Council met on the beach at the request of Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) who organized the meeting in response to Mayor Curtis’ urgent call for assistance.  Members of the group also met later at Borough Hall to work together to find solutions.

“Commitments were made to both immediately address the safety concerns and to explore sustainable longer-term actions to mitigate beach erosion posed by future storms,” said Smith.

“The safety and security of Bay Head’s residents and the surrounding community must be paramount. We can’t leave these 18-foot cliffs exposed,” he added.

Smith continued to press the group to prioritize the safety threat and identify repairs to mitigate the danger even though the Corps has initially determined that the recent storm was not a qualifying event for full emergency federal funding.

Smith said the two agencies will be collaborating this week with a follow-up meeting with his office and local engineers this coming Thursday.  In a letter to Lt. Colonel Park, Smith thanked him for responding to his call and the schedule for moving forward.

Last Friday, in the wake of the storm, Smith spoke with Lt. Colonel Park—at which time he invited the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to visit Bay Head. Smith has spoken to Mayor Curtis on several occasions after the mayor reached out to Smith for assistance.

“Congressman Chris Smith came to the aid of Bay Head, again, when we needed him most,” Curtis said. “At our request, he convinced Lt. Colonel Park to travel to Bay Head to assess the damage to our beaches. Congressman Smith has always acted quickly, spoken decisively yet courteously to get things done that I could not accomplish without his intervention.”

In its report to Smith, the Army Corps conveyed that Bay Head is one of just nine towns that suffered “severe” damage. The NJDEP classified the damage in Bay Head as “major erosion which consists of significant or total beach berm loss and/or significant erosion and scarping of the dunes.”

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