Posted on June 29, 2022
Ortley Beach is expected to be fully open for the July 4 weekend after a $250,000 beach repair project that is winding down, Mayor Maurice Hill said Tuesday.
The work to bring in sand to repair damage and extend the beach in Ortley, after a late-spring nor’easter caused significant erosion that shut down about 25 percent of the beach, was nearly complete, Hill said.
“The equipment is off the beach,” he said of the frontloaders and other construction equipment used to distribute and grade the sand. Walking mats for the beach access paths are anticipated to be in place shortly, he said.
In addition, the lightning warning system the township purchased in May is scheduled to be installed Thursday, with training for the township’s staff immediately following. Read more: Lightning Warning System Coming To Toms River Beaches
“It should be in operation this weekend,” Hill said. Brick and Berkeley townships also have invested in equipment to detect and warn about the possibility of lightning, a move that has come in response to the death last summer of lifeguard Keith Pinto. Pinto, a Toms River resident, was working on the beach in the South Seaside Park section of Berkeley in late August when a lightning strike seemingly out of nowhere — the sky was clear and it was sunny at the time — killed him and injured several others nearby.
Hill said Toms River is planning to reach out to Seaside Heights and Lavallette about the possibility of working with them to extend the lightning detection system to ensure those beaches are covered as well.
“They said the signal can go 5 miles,” he said, suggesting that the other towns could tie in simply by purchasing signal receivers. “Then the entire area from Brick to Berkeley would be covered.”
Hill said that the beach work in Ortley was budgeted at $250,000 but was coming in at less than that cost, with the final expense roughly $230,000. He’s hoping the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the costs, but said Toms River is still waiting for FEMA to reimburse the $500,000 Toms River spent in 2021 making beach repairs.
Hill said Toms River also is working with the Ocean County Mayors Association to urge Gov. Phil Murphy to have the state cover an anticipated $7.5 million cost to Toms River, Mantoloking and Bay Head for beach replenishment by the Army Corps of Engineers that is expected to happen in late 2022 and early 2023.
That replenishment, where sand will be pumped onto the beaches, would address three so-called “hot spots” that have seen much higher rates of erosion during nor’easters since the massive beach replenishment project that stretched from Point Pleasant Beach to South Seaside Park was completed in 2018.
Hill said the Army Corps will need to make the beaches broader and wider in those three towns, and because they would receive the bulk of the work, they also would face a heavier share of the cost.
The cost of the project is paid 50 percent by the federal government, with the other half split between the state and the municipalities in a 70-30 share.
The municipal share would be about $7.5 million, Hill said. “Bay Head, Mantoloking and Toms River would carry the lion’s share of that, and those little towns can’t really afford that.”
With the state’s current budget surplus, Hill said, the mayors group is petitioning for the state to pick up that $7.5 million.
“The beaches are used by everyone, not just the people in those towns,” Hill said.