Posted on April 19, 2023
The warm days may have people thinking of summer days spent on the beach, sitting on a blanket enjoying the sunshine.
How much people will be able to do that in Ortley Beach this summer remains to be seen, however. The beachfront was battered by nor’easters over the winter, shortening the distance from the surf to the dunes and damaging several of the walkovers.
The situation is angering residents.
“There’s barely any beach to sit on and half the walkways are still busted up,” Michele Volpe wrote in a comment on the Patch Facebook page.
“You have a lot of nerve raising the price of beach badges while Ortley Beach doesn’t even have a beach. We shouldn’t be charged at all this summer,” Debbie Sheehan wrote.
“The beach was so bad last year,” Cindy Mori wrote. “Sitting on top of people. Ortley is my favorite but won’t be back until it’s fixed.”
A recent walk on the beach at high tide showed the beach area was significantly reduced from what existed when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the beach replenishment and dune construction project in 2019.
Part of that project included periodic beach fill to address areas of significant erosion — a project that initially was expected to begin this month. But that project is on hold for the moment after the Army Corps rejected bids received for the project, which was to do beachfill from Manasquan Inlet to Seaside Heights.
“Based on the bids we received in March, we are not able to award a contract at this time,” said Stephen Rochette, a spokesman for the Army Corps Philadelphia division, which oversees the area from Manasquan Inlet south to Delaware Bay. “The bids were rejected because they exceeded the independent government estimates.”
“We are still working on next steps and the path forward,” Rochette said, adding the Army Corps was hopeful of having an update soon.
But as for the work on the beaches? “I don’t know if it will be this summer or not,” he said.
Toms River officials have a backup plan in motion to get the walkovers repaired. The township has solicited bids for an on-call contract to make repairs and add sand to the beach, with the bid opening set for April 25.
Once the township awards the bid, officials said, they will be able to begin the project quickly.
It’s unclear how much will be repaired by Memorial Day.
Also still in limbo is the portion of the beach that was the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said discussions are ongoing on the management and use agreement for the land, which the state owns but Toms River will manage. Part of that included a review of Toms River’s Concept Plan for the beach property. Toms River will need coastal permits will be needed for the proposal to extend the boardwalk and create a parking area.