Posted on August 23, 2023
There has been movement on the restoration and development of the long-closed Wildwood landfill, City Administrator Steve O’Connor said, Aug. 9, beginning the process of removing what he called an embarrassment for a shore community.
“How can we have an open landfill in a waterfront community?” he said.
The project, he said, would become a masterpiece for Wildwood.
O’Connor spoke to the Herald days after the Aug. 9 Wildwood Board of Commissioners meeting, where he said the city was working out details with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
O’Connor said the NJDEP had initially told the city there were about 18 acres – or the entire landfill site – that could not be developed. O’Connor said it has been determined that there were about 4.5 acres where a Public Works facility was located where unrestricted development is now allowable.
The landfill site, O’Connor said, still has to be capped and current plans are to use dredge material from an NJDOT dredging project to do it. O’Connor said between October and the end of the year, the NJDOT will be dredging the back bays and the city will be accepting about 100,000 cubic yards of dredge materials – 70,000 for capping the landfill and another 30,000 for upgrading the unrestricted area.
“The materials have been tested and are suitable, even for the unrestricted side,” O’Connor said. “The materials will sit in place for three to four months to dry out and we will be doing modest things between now and then. The full project will start in March 2024.”
O’Connor estimated that the project would be complete by this time next year.
He said that along with the capping, the city would restore the approximately 14 acres to a wildlife habitat and active and passive recreation area. There will also be a “living shoreline” installed to protect the water’s edge. Living shorelines generally include the use of gabions, wire cages used for holding rocks in place, and plantings among the rocks.
The total estimated cost with a contingency amount is $9.7 million. The remediation and capping will be $2.8 million; the critical wildlife habitat will be close to $2 million; $194,000 is for the living shoreline; $817,000 is for sidewalks and walkways through the area near the water; and roadwork related to the project is close to $2 million, O’Connor said.
The landfill operated from the 1930s to the 1970s, when it was closed. Since then, the City of Wildwood has struggled with trying to resolve the issue of an open landfill, considering accepting dredge materials from other municipalities and trying to find a developer to turn the wasteland into something beneficial to the city. O’Connor said the NJDEP has been very amenable to recent proposals for restoring the site.
“The DEP has been extremely helpful with this,” O’Connor said. “They have been expediting permits, they have really stepped up, and the city has been moving forward and getting things done. We will have a recreation area and 4 acres available for development.”
O’Connor said the city is hopeful about getting a Hazardous Discharge Remediation Fund Grant, which would provide up to 75% of a $10 million grant, or $7.5 million, which would pay the majority of the cost of the project. O’Connor said the project would take care of an eyesore in an area where there has been a lot of new development going on.