Crest commission makes beach recovery the priority

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 WILDWOOD CREST — Rebuilding the beach is the number one priority. Everything else is secondary, according to the borough’s commissioners.

The borough had planned extensive capital improvements to the public works garage and the Washington Avenue tennis courts and playground. The budgeted amount for the project is $910,000.

That was before a hurricane hit the area.

“I understand that planning for tennis courts needs to be put on hold,” said Commissioner Don Cabrera. “I get that.”

“Our beach is the number one priority and the public works garage is number two,” he said.

Mayor Carl Groon compared the borough’s capital improvements to a puzzle, one that was going to get increasingly difficult.

“The most important piece is the beach,” said Groon.

The mayor decided not to vote for a $25,000 capital ordinance for the construction of beach walkways.

Commissioner Joyce Gould said the $25,000 would pay for six walkways.

Joe Bond, supervisor of public works, told the commissioners that he thinks half of the borough’s walkways were destroyed in the storm.

Neil Young, the borough’s chief financial officer, explained that passing the ordinance doesn’t mean that it has to be spent.

Despite Groon’s hesitation, Cabrera and Gould voted to pass the ordinance.

Groon said that, “in my opinion, I want to review the beach in its entirety. I don’t want to do anything piecemeal.”

The list of work that needs to be done is lengthy, he said.

“We have to rebuild the dunes, get sand to the low lying areas, grate where it’s needed, put up the fencing, rebuild the walkways and plant the grasses,” Groon noted.

But before they can begin, public works had to get the OK to being the cleanup process.

Bond said that he and his department had been working on the west side of town along the bay, which had suffered the most amount of property damage.

Bond said the crew couldn’t clean up the beach until borough engineer Jim Verna and his team finished their assessment of storm damage.

Verna responded that the documentation of the beach damage was done and a number of photographs were taken. With that information being sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the commissioners gave Bond the order to start on beach and for Verna to complete a comprehensive plan on what is needed to rebuild the beach.

“It will take at least a month just to clean it,” Bond said of the beach.

After that, the borough can start work on the engineer’s plan to rebuild.

“The only issue is how we’re going to pay for all this,” Bond told the commission.

Groon replied that FEMA should reimburse the borough up to 75 percent for costs associated with the storm.

“But unless that money is in our hand, we can’t count on it,” Groon said and added that the borough is still waiting for FEMA reimbursement for a 2009 storm.

When the borough gets reimbursed for the 2009 storm, that extra funding could help us here, he said. In the meantime, Groon said that the borough could pass a resolution for emergency funds to be used.

“This was definitely an emergency and something that affected the safety, health and welfare of our town,” he said.

Whether it is funded through FEMA or emergency appropriations, Groon said he wants to have a beach plan finalized so the commission can move forward by the borough’s next meeting on Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall, 6101 Pacific Ave.

Lauren Suit can be e-mailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story online at 

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