Posted on March 13, 2023
A beach replenishment project on Ocean County’s northern barrier island will not begin until the fall, officials said this week, as several municipalities are just now approving agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund the work.
In January, Ocean County officials said the county would fund the “local share” of the project, which will see beaches replenished between Point Pleasant Beach and South Seaside Park. The county had originally pledged to cover 50 percent of the share of the cost that would normally be borne by municipal taxpayers after Trenton declined to tap infrastructure funds to for the project.
The overall project is estimated to cost about $60 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pay $30 million, with the remaining $30 million coming from the state and county.
At a borough council meeting in Lavallette Monday night, the governing body approved the agreement with Ocean County that will enable the county government to fund the work. Lavallette had already executed an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to allow the work to commence, however other municipalities had hesitated to effectuate those agreements. Some municipalities were alarmed by the cost of the “local share,” especially in light of the state’s refusal to utilize federal grant funding, while other towns, such as Seaside Park, sought guarantees that the work would not negatively impact dune plantings the borough has overseen.
With the county funding the local share, it is expected that all of the municipal governments will execute the agreements. But the delay has prevented the federal government from putting the project out to bid.
“It is looking less likely that this project will begin before the summer season,” said Lavallette Mayor Walter LaCicero, with confirmation coming from the Army Corps itself.
“Because of some issues with three communities with this agreement, it could not go through,” he said. “As of Friday, they had not executed those agreements which would get the money into the feds, who will go out and bid it.”
Construction is estimated to take place in Fall 2023 and calendar year 2024, the Army Corps said in a status update on the project posted Monday.
Meanwhile, the equipment – and manpower – needed to complete the replenishment project remains in high demand. The Great lakes Dredge and Dock Company recently completed a replenishment project in Ocean City, Strathmere and Sea Isle City, all in Cape May County, about two weeks ago. This week, after a staging period, replenishment work got underway in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and will continue south along the Delaware coast. Another replenishment project will begin in Ft. Pierce, Fla., later this week.
“When they finish those projects, they’ll come here, but we’re confident it’s not going to be until after the summer,” LaCicero said.