Posted on May 12, 2022
The largest expense for dredging, in terms of time and money, is the permitting process, said Mayor John G. Ducey during the April 26 Council Meeting.
It took years, but the administration procured a township-wide dredging permit from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, which means each lagoon neighborhood in need of dredging does not have to apply for their own permit and could use the townwide permit, he explained.
The Township Engineering Department has identified five priority areas in need of dredging, and has named the Nejecho Beach Lagoon as the first to be dredged, the mayor said.
The governing body passed a resolution to authorize a temporary capital budget for 2022 in the amount of $300,000, the upfront cost to initiate the dredging project slated to begin on June 1.
“We won’t have our regular capital budget with all of the capital spending – the trucks, the parks, and the roadways and all – completed before that, but we wanted to make sure we don’t miss the June 1 window because there’s a finite time that we can dredge,” Mayor Ducey said.
Dredging restrictions for winter flounder protection are in place every year from January 1 until May 31, which limits the timeline available for dredging.
“The council’s 2022 capital budget has not yet been approved, and this resolution to secure the funding to start the project in advance of that as needed for the timeline to start the dredge project,” he said.
The council also passed a bond ordinance to finance part of the cost of the dredging project and for a special assessment to Nejecho Beach residents.
Township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin said that since the Nejecho Beach Lagoon dredging project includes private land, there is a required cost share with the property owners.
“A meeting with the property owners was held earlier this evening to go over the specifics,” she said “A letter summarizing the costs of the dredge will be sent to all affected property owners requesting their interest in participating.”
The dredging project would only go through if a majority of the residents approve, Bergin added.
During public comment, resident Vic Finelli, a waterfront homeowner from Shore Acres, asked if the dredging project would proceed with or without resident approval.
“We are queued up and ready to go, and the residents are aware of that,” Bergin said. “They’re also aware that there’s a cost share, so some obviously, and wisely, want to have all the specifics before they would like to commit, so we’ll give them that window. We certainly don’t want to force a community to do something, but since 2015 they’ve been rigorously and consistently begging us to help them with this lagoon, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Nejecho Beach lagoon homeowner John O’Donnell attended the council meeting and thanked the governing body for their help with the dredging project.
After the council meeting, O’Donnell said he had attended the earlier meeting for the residents that Bergin had referred to. He said about a dozen of the Nejecho Beach Lagoon homeowners attended.
“A majority would like to see this go through,” he said. “I don’t want to go through another season with the lagoon the way it is. I can only use my boat at high tide, which means if I want to go out fishing I have to stay out for 12 hours.”
The waterfront property owners were told that they would be charged for the dredging per linear foot of bulkhead for their property, but the exact cost is not yet known since the job is going out to bid.
“The high end [cost] would be $300,000 for 29 houses, and the cost would be spread out over 10 years,” O’Donnell said. “If the water is not navigable, the value of the houses would go down drastically,” he added.
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday May 10 at 7 p.m.