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Jersey Shore town that’s desperate for sand will get emergency fix

Aerial view of beachfront conditions at East 5th Avenue in North Wildwood, Sunday, April 14, 2024.

Posted on May 1, 2024

North Wildwood will get emergency beach repairs after all.

The Jersey Shore town — where the beach has only continued to disappear in recent years due to heavy erosion — is expected to replenish its shores for the summer through a new project, NJ Advance Media confirmed.

The “‘North Wildwood Emergency Beach Nourishment Dredging’ project will serve to protect the infrastructure, quality of life, and economy in North Wildwood until the Army Corps of Engineers and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are able to complete a long-term project,” the offices of Gov. Phil Murphy and North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said in a joint statement Thursday night.

At high tide, about 10 blocks of North Wildwood’s 36-block-long beach are un-walkable. Sand cliffs and dune breaches are apparent in other sections.

Rosenello on Thursday night called the new interim project “a welcome work in progress.”

He has attempted since the start of the year — and further back — for a new set of emergency shore repairs.

In addition to the impact of a smaller beach on the local economy, Rosenello has also previously shared concerns that strong storms and high waves put near-shore properties and power lines at risk.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources is currently working to design and authorize the new nourishment. The NJDOT did not immediately provide more details on the work.

On Friday evening, Rosenello confirmed the project will involve placing a dredge vessel off the coast to pump sand from the ocean floor and from an already approved borrow zone at Hereford Inlet. The inlet is the only nearby federally-approved borrow site for the city.

North Wildwood expects to contribute money for the project, which is slated to be completed by July 4, the mayor said. He did not say how much.

Additional details on the emergency replenishment, including the total cost and who is paying what portions of it, were not immediately provided.

Last May, North Wildwood was similarly allowed to repair its beach for the summer season, when an influx of visitors flock to the Jersey Shore.

Spokespeople for Murphy and Rosenello said Thursday the new interim beach solution is slated to move ahead over the next few weeks and “is expected to provide relief to the community over the next few months.”

North Wildwood has waited for a major federal replenishment for about a decade while Mother Nature continues to take a toll on its shoreline — particularly during the past winter season.

Trucking sand over from sister city Wildwood has not been possible due to highly-eroded sections of beach where those trucks would need to travel down with sand, the city previously said. Attempts at emergency fixes in past years have come with mixed results.

Besides closing certain shore walkways, North Wildwood officials announced earlier this year they expected to ban tents, canopies and cabanas from setting up on the smaller beach this summer.

The new emergency nourishment project, the state and city said, was possible through a “collaboration and bipartisan partnership.”

Rosenello, a Republican, has in the past been at odds with the current Democratic governor and his administration. Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cumberland, was also involved in the latest collaborative effort.

Regardless, a $33 million legal battle between North Wildwood and the state is ongoing and was not resolved as part of this new project agreement, Rosenello confirmed Friday.

The larger federally-led sand replenishment project remains in the works.

Contracts for that “Five Mile Island” project — set to benefit Wildwood, North Wildwood, Lower Township and Wildwood Crest — may not be awarded until the summer of 2025.

The construction start remains undetermined.

“I’m happy for the people out there that have no beach,” Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano said Thursday of the latest development in North Wildwood. “Look, we are one family here. We may be different communities but we are one island and you want that island to be open to everyone.”


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