Longport takes step toward shore protection

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LONGPORT – The borough commissioners unanimously supported a measure Wednesday, Dec. 5 that would allow them to act on a dunes project without a ballot measure.

They introduced an ordinance that would repeal a decade-old law that prohibits commissioners from funding or participating in a dunes project without direct voter approval. The public hearing and adoption is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 19.

During the workshop meeting that preceded the action, the commissioners discussed the arduous task of moving sand from the city streets back to the beach.

In the weeks after Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Nick Russo told The Current he would pursue building up the dunes as a way to mitigate storm damage. He reinforced that position after meeting with state Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in Longport Friday, Nov. 30.

“There has not been on one person who has come to me that has not said to me they are not in favor of having a dune project now. We have to do something now,” Russo said at the workshop session. “The small businesses we have here all were hammered. People never saw this amount of water before, and it’s going to happen again.”

Borough Engineer Dick Carter said their efforts to get state funding for shorefront protection at 11th Avenue and the borough’s southernmost area known as the Point have yielded no results, since the borough is not a part of the Army Corps of Engineers Absecon Island beach fill project.

He said sand migrates north to south along the coast. Atlantic City and Ventnor received federal beach replenishment this past spring and summer.

During the workshop session, resident Steve Hankin pleaded with the commissioners to act.

“There's time when you’ve just got to belly up to the bar and do the right thing, and this is it,” Hankin said. “We learned our lesson now. Do not delay. Please don't wait.”

He later thanked the commission and said he would be back to support it on the final reading in two weeks. The meeting is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19 in Borough Hall, and will be preceded by a work session at 4:30 p.m.

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