Residents beg city to bring sand to south end

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Bill Barlow / The south end of Ocean City sustained serious erosion after Hurricane Sandy. Bill Barlow / The south end sustained serious erosion after Hurricane Sandy.

OCEAN CITY – While, a beach replenishment project already scheduled for the north end of the island will go forward, Ocean City’s south end also sustained serious erosion during Sandy prompting residents to come before City Council Thursday, Nov. 15 pleading for help.

Jeffrey Monihan of Central Avenue requested, on behalf of his neighborhood, that the city do everything it can to get the south end added to the existing replenishment project.

South end resident Wendy Smith said that after two years of slow erosion, Sandy was the final straw for the beaches south of 40th Street.

“The past two years, we watched our beach erode at 56th Street,” she said.

When Sandy passed over Ocean City, she and her neighbors watched video footage of the water rushing over the dunes and wiping them out.

“There is nothing protecting their homes anymore,” she said. “We have video of the water coming straight through the homes.”

Pilings from the 59th street pier are exposed several feet on the beach where they never were before, Smith said. She said the residents wanted to help get the south end replenished.

“If we can help in some way we’re very happy to do that,” she said. “But this is a problem.”

City business administrator Mike Dattilo said that the city has been in touch with officials on both the federal and state levels regarding beach replenishment in the south end.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Hey, we want more sand under that contract,’” he said, noting that other agencies have to be involved in the permitting.

“There will be more information forthcoming on what has to happen there,” Dattilo said.

Dattilo said that the timing of a scheduled beach replenishment and a storm in the 1990s was almost identical to the situation the city is currently in. For that storm, he said, Federal Emergency Management Agency funds layered onto the Army Corps of Engineer funds and it turned into one of the larger beach replenishment projects Ocean City has ever had.

The city is splitting the cost of the north end beach replenishment with the state and the federal government as part of a 50-year agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers for beach replenishment from the north end to 36th Street. The current project was planned for the area from the north end to 12th Street. The federal government pays for 75 percent of the project.

In August, council adopted a $650,000 bond ordinance to help pay for the city’s share of the project, which at 8.75 percent is about $1.265 million. The state will pay the remaining $3.797 million, which includes costs for reconstruction of seven outfall pipes not covered by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps advertised for contractors on July 31 and awarded a contract on Sept. 13 to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. The total contract is $15.6 million, of which $10.3 million is appropriated for Ocean City, according to Army Corps spokesman Richard Pearsall.

Dattilo said that he has been in contact with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, NJ-2, and other federal legislators to have a previously proposed south end project be lumped with other proposed replenishments in islands south of Ocean City.

“I believe council is aware (that) that project, along with some other neighboring towns, is literally in Washington waiting to be approved,” Dattilo said.

“That obviously would be a good thing for the entire community,” he said, adding that he is meeting with LoBiondo next week on the topic.

Councilman Pete Guinosso asked if the city was pursuing funding through the state as well for a south end beach fill.

“We need to rattle every tree to make something happen,” Dattilo said.

Guinosso asked, “What can the people in the south end do?”

Dattilo said it never hurts to lobby your federal representatives.

“The more they hear, the better,” he said.

Councilman Keith Hartzell said a written letter is most effective.

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