Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Very cool looking trees -
See the crescent moon in top right corner -
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Keep in mind that these photos were taken at LOW tide. Click images for larger views
Thursday, November 13, 2008
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - A rock seawall in Strathmere could cost taxpayers 25 percent more than expected.
The Township Committee on Monday agreed to pay as much as $150,000 more, or $750,000 total cost, for the seawall that Agate Construction of Dennis Township is building on the island's north end.
Township Engineer Paul Dietrich said the project required more boulders than anticipated to protect homes along Neptune and Seaview avenues. The rocks act as a tide break, deflecting wave energy during storms that have eaten away private and public property this year, including an entire 90-acre state park.
The rocks are having the desired effect, protecting oceanfront homes and public roads on this narrow island, Dietrich said.
The Township Committee declared an emergency and approved the project without public bidding because of the imminent threat of storm damage on the island's exposed north end.
"Let's get it done the right way and have it finished. But there has to be a drop-dead limit," Mayor Richard Palombo said. "This isn't something we're used to - escalating construction costs."
A $3.5 million beach-replenishment project early next year is expected to cover the rock wall with a new sand beach. The state will pay 75 percent of that project.
"This is like the Alamo. This is our last stand here, this rock wall," Deputy Mayor Curtis Corson Jr. said. "If we get the beach fill, hopefully we'll bury these stones and never see them again. But let's put them in place in the event there is a major event."
The committee approved the additional spending 4-0 on Monday. Committeeman Frank Conrad, who works in construction, abstained because of a potential conflict of interest.
Dietrich said contractors have placed about 5,000 tons of stone. To complete the project, they will have to place as much as 3,000 tons more, he said.
This will cost between $60,000 and $150,000 more than the $600,000 initially budgeted.
Meanwhile, just one Strathmere property owner has not signed an easement allowing permanent public access to her beachfront. The state demands the easements before it will approve public funding for the beach fill.
Solicitor Dan Young said the township will file condemnation proceedings in court this week if the owner does not accept the township's offer to buy her land.
The township is asking 19 property owners in the southern Strathmere neighborhood of Whale Beach to sign over easements as well in the hope that the Township Committee can persuade the state to expand the beach project here.
Dietrich is meeting this week with the state Department of Environmental Protection to discuss the pending beach fill.
Meanwhile, Palombo said the Cape May County Emergency Management Office will ask several Atlantic County towns to join an application for federal disaster relief for shore towns battered by recent storms.
The county is taking a regional approach to addressing the damaged beaches. Upper Township, Ocean City and Sea Isle City, among others, hope to get federal money to pay for erosion, road damage and other costs they incurred since Labor Day. But Palombo said the total damage estimate might not reach the $11 million threshold that would trigger a federal response.
"It's not going to be an exaggerated number. If we qualify, great," Palombo said.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
State refuses to pay for Strathmere rocks Upper Township will get no help from state to pay for $600,000 Strathmere seawall
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer -Published: Friday, November 07, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - The township will not get any help from the state to pay for a $600,000 rock wall on Strathmere's north end.
Crews from Agate Construction, of Dennis Township, continued building the wall one truckload at a time Thursday as a coastal storm lashed the beaches.
Mayor Richard Palombo said the state Department of Environmental Protection informed the township it will not pay for the work.
"The state is committed to a sand-only project," he said. "The word I've gotten from the DEP is that at this point Upper Township will be responsible for the rock. But they will dredge the inlet, which will put a lot more sand on the state-owned property."
The township moved the harvest site farther inland into Corsons Inlet in the hope that opening this channel will discourage erosion along the island's north end. The township's coastal consultant said doing so would help eliminate a second channel that has scoured the northeastern part of the island.
The state agreed to pay 75 percent of that estimated $3.5 million project and 100 percent of the work restoring Corsons Inlet State Park. An estimated 90 acres of park in Strathmere disappeared under the waves in the past year.
Township Engineer Paul Dietrich submitted a plan to the state to restore a portion of the state park to protect the island's north end. But the township's priority is along the beachfront where homes and roads are imperiled, Dietrich said.
With a finite budget, every cubic yard of sand counts, he said.
"Realistically, can we put back 25 or 35 acres?" Deitrich asked. He said the answer is yes, but it will take time to rebuild the once-extensive dune system.
The township is still awaiting word on Cape May County's plans to apply for federal disaster assistance.
Meanwhile, the township is in the process of seizing beachfront through eminent domain. The township is pursuing easements from one north-end property owner and about 20 property owners in the neighborhood called Whale Beach.
Strathmere's beaches have become a local attraction during every coastal storm, including Thursday's. TV news crews have congregated there to get dramatic images of waves crashing a few feet from million-dollar homes.
More spectators watched workers Thursday in a spitting rain.
Strathmere property owner Indrek Ojamaa, of Mercer County, photographed the heavy equipment that moved boulders the size of recliners. He recalled a time not so long ago when Corsons Inlet State Park was a sprawling mix of dunes and bayberry. Now, the park ends a few yards from its big brown sign.
DEP spokeswoman Elaine Makatura said the agency is reviewing the township's plans to rebuild this natural area.
Palumbo said the half-finished rock wall already is having the desired effect of protecting public and private property. The rocks deflect the wave energy produced when tons of water crash onto the shoreline.
"It's interesting to see there's already sand being deposited by those groins. It's already having a very positive impact. We're very pleased," he said. "We were a little (uneasy) about this storm today. If we get through a high tide today, we'll be in great shape."
Monday, October 27, 2008
BEACH TOWNS UNITE TO FIX EROSION PROBLEMS
Cleve Bryan ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) - 10/27/08 04:25 pm
AVALON - "It tears your heart out, it really does," That's how Avalon resident Bob Drummond feels when he looks at the erosion on his town's beaches.
Heavy erosion from recent storms has hit Cape May County hard from Stone Harbor north to Ocean City, with Strathmere feeling some of the worst effects.
Recently the North end lost 20 acres of sand in about 2 days.
"In 25 words or less, unbelievable," says Frank McCall, Director of Cape May County’s Department of Emergency Management.
Today representatives of several towns gathered to discuss the damages.
They plan to put together a preliminary damage assessment survey to increase the county's eligibility for state and federal beach repair assistance money.
If damages total 11 million dollars or more, the chances for help could be much better.
"We want to go through the process openly and honestly because this is not just about beach replenishment, this is about the protection of the Jersey Shore," says McCall.
The State Department of Environmental Protection was involved in the meeting as well because Corson's Inlet State Park on Strathmere's North end is gone.
"Not only is this a state park for the tourists and the locals to visit and all that, there are some endangered species that are normally in here so we're concerned about that," says Art Treon, Deputy Director of Cape May County’s Department of Emergency Management.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Looking north on Neptune at Seacliff.
Walking north on Neptune
Looking from Seaview out to the ocean.
What's used to be the entrance to Corson's Inlet State Park -
Looking towards the bay -
Looking towards the ocean -
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Sunday, October 26, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - Contractors operating under an emergency declaration loaded boulders on a new sea wall Saturday on Strathmere's northern tip as waves lashed the frontyards of nearby homes.
A coastal storm brought high waves and rocks crashing over a protective bulkhead that neighbors built this year, and each new storm threatens to swamp the neighborhood.
Residents are taking small steps to protect their homes. Some filled and placed sandbags at the curb to guard against minor flooding.
The Boardman family fastened buoys to one side of their bulkhead and a combination of coal shovels, snow shovels and even dustpans to the other to deflect the surging high tide at their aptly named Seaview Avenue home.
They have enjoyed their sea view for three generations. But Sarah Boardman's father never expected the Atlantic Ocean to cross their doorstep when he built the home in 1950.
"Heavens, no. My father bought this whole block so we could have this view," she said.
These homes were protected by Corsons Inlet State Park, a beachfront reminder of what New Jersey's barrier islands used to be.
The park shared by Ocean City consisted of 20-foot-tall dunes covered in cedar trees, bayberry, porcelain berry and dune grass that attracted rabbits, foxes and shorebirds.
"We used to drive a Jeep out on the beach almost to Ocean City where we had beach parties," Boardman said. "We had 1,000 nesting black skimmers there."
The state Department of Environmental Protection has resisted development in Strathmere. The agency will not allow sewer systems here for fear it will lead to denser development.
The agency has taken a hands-off approach to maintaining the state park as well by refusing to pump sand onto this natural area. Instead, the state allowed the beaches to recede and build back up with the seasons.
For decades this policy of indifference suited residents here since the park provided an ample buffer against the tides.
"It was a cyclical thing. You didn't worry about it too much," Boardman said.
Likewise, the DEP was reluctant to permit the township or private residents to build hard structures such as sea walls here because doing so might interfere with nesting colonies of shorebirds.
"Except the good Lord decided differently," Boardman said.
In a dramatic turn of events, virtually the entire park - more than 60 acres - has disappeared into the sea.
"Literally an entire state park has vanished. I haven't seen anything like it," said state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic. "The lesson I learned is how rapidly a situation can deteriorate."
The township's beach consultant identified the trend of receding beachfront more than a year ago. As recently as its quarterly report July 14, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's Coastal Research Center warned about the likelihood of more shoreline retreat on the island's north end.
For the past year the township has had to contend with one coastal crisis after another, and trucking quarried sand here by the ton to deal with them.
But not even a new steel bulkhead could stem minor tidal flooding last week and again Saturday as waves had free access to private property. The erosion accelerated in the past month.
Township officials will meet Monday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to discuss a longer-term solution. In the meantime, it appropriated $300,000 to build the rock wall from Commonwealth down to Neptune Avenue.
Observers have had mixed reaction to the island's crisis.
Ron and Robin Librizzi, of Sea Isle City, joined other gawkers Saturday on Neptune Avenue to see the extent of the erosion firsthand. They own a beachfront home on 39th Street.
"It's definitely worth the risk," he said. "We say six times a day how lucky we are. But you also get the feeling it could be gone in an instant."
One blogger suggested the government had no business "bailing out" foolish investors who built near the shore.
The most conspicuous of these houses in Strathmere belongs to Annapolis, Md., residents Suzanne and Albert Lord. They built an addition to the three-story home in 2006, securing both state permits and local approvals according to the township construction office.
"We've been coming to Strathmere for 15 years. We've never anticipated anything like this happening - the ocean would completely chop off that (park peninsula)," Suzanne Lord said. "We've done what we can to protect our home. We're looking for some help from the state to accept their responsibility."
She has removed family photographs of their grandchildren and other valuables from their beach home in the event that the new rock wall does not keep the ocean at bay.
"We're extremely anxious," she said. "When you build in a place where there is a state park in front of you, you assume the state will not let the ocean take it."
Cape May County Emergency Management Director Frank McCall said criticism should not be directed toward the property owners.
"I don't think anyone makes application to put up a $2 million home with the anticipation that it will fall into the drink," McCall said. "If permits are granted and processes are followed and regulatory agencies approve them at all levels, then there's a reasonable expectation that it's the right thing to do."
Strathmere's year of living dangerously
Jan. 3: Neighbors invest in sandbags as winter storms lash the island. Waves carve steep cliffs in Albert and Suzanne Lord's frontyard on Seaview Avenue. They build the first section of steel bulkhead. The township trucks sand to the north end as a stopgap measure.
March 12: The Township Committee pays to truck 13,000 cubic yards more of sand to the island's north end to create a tall berm to protect homes from storm damage.
May 12: A northeaster dubbed the Mother's Day Storm carves steep cliffs where Corsons Inlet State Park once was and eats away most of the remaining berm.
June 30: The township tries to take advantage of a $6 million dredging project on Ocean City's north end but meets resistance with state funding and permits.
July 14: The township's coastal consultant warns that erosion patterns on the north end could cause more shoreline retreat.
Aug. 20: The Township Committee announces its $3.5 million beach-replenishment project will take place in January at the earliest.
Sept. 8: The Township Committee votes to take beachfront property by eminent domain, if necessary, to ensure it can get money for the upcoming project.
Sept. 22: Upper Township allocates $67,000 more to truck sand to Strathmere.
Oct. 19-25: Northeast winds drive ocean swells over a protective bulkhead, flooding the north end of Strathmere. The township declares an emergency and hires Agate Construction to place boulders in front of the bulkhead to protect homes from storm damage. Neighbors fill and place sandbags in front of their homes to guard against street flooding.
Monday: Cape May County officials will meet to talk about getting federal assistance for Strathmere and other storm-damaged barrier islands.
Last Updated - 10/25/08 10:32 pm
STRATHMERE--In Strathmere officials continued their efforts to protect the small coastal community, from damaging flood waters.
Just last weekend rough winds and high tides forced water to overflow the bulkheads, causing costly damage to the area's Northend.
And in anticipation of today's storms, crews unloaded more rocks, and residents set up a line of sandbags to help alleviate some of the water from overflowing on the streets.
High tide was just after 6 o'clock and at that point the temporary fix seemed to be working.
"It's getting better. We're hoping that the state will help, the township is working hard," says Strathmere resident, Sarah Boardman.
No major flooding was reported, however the town still plans to spend $300,000 to install rock-filled wire baskets, to help shore up the wall.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
By Jacqueline L. Urgo
Inquirer Staff Writer
STRATHMERE, N.J. - Less than a day before a heavy storm that forecasters said could cause beach erosion and flooding at the Jersey Shore this weekend, Jack Cooper and his neighbors in this tiny Cape May County coastal town said they were as ready as they could be.
Some in Strathmere contend that officials in Upper Township - the mainland municipality that governs them - have placed the community of 175 year-rounders in peril by not reacting more quickly to its need for major beach replenishment.
A band of residents has mounted an aggressive effort to secede from Upper Township. Another beach town, such as adjacent Sea Isle City, would "get" them better, they say.
But yesterday, Cooper and others had little time for such talk. They were busy stacking 50-pound sandbags on the perimeter of their multi-million-dollar properties and removing valuables from their lots as township officials scrambled to reinforce 1,000 feet of seawall with boulders the size of Mini Cooper cars.
Just weeks ago, Jack Cooper said, he and others who live on the Point, at the far north end of Strathmere, spent at least $600,000 of their own to install the three-foot-tall steel wall along their properties to block encroaching water from the ocean and Corson's Inlet.
Last weekend, in its first test, the seawall failed.
A relatively mild storm blew 25 m.p.h. winds off the ocean, pulling water onto the land, flooding properties and nearby streets. The wave action also scoured sand from beneath the new wall.
"That really scared us, because that wasn't that big of a storm," Cooper said. "We were left to wonder what would happen if we got the type of severe nor'easter we usually get during the winter."
Cooper and others hope that the wall will hold until a planned $3 million beach replenishment project gets underway this winter.
Heavy rain, strong winds and seven-foot waves - double normal size - are predicted to begin around noon today and continue all day. Though not a nor'easter, the storm may test beach communities such as Strathmere, meteorologist Jim Eberwine of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly said this week.
On Tuesday, Upper Township officials passed an emergency appropriation of at least $300,000 to fortify the seawall with boulders and the rock-filled mesh boxes known as gabion. Work began Thursday and was expected to continue tomorrow.
"We're doing everything we can to protect the property along this part of Strathmere," said Mayor Richard Palombo. "We feel a responsibility to the homeowners to do that."
"Strathmere is in crisis mode," said Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at the Richard Stockton State College of New Jersey in Pomona. "This seems to be the best solution at the moment."
Erosion has increased over 18 months, some theorize, because sand from Ocean City's recent beach replenishment has washed into Corson's Inlet, creating a sandbar on the Strathmere side. That has shifted the currents and caused more scouring of the beachfront, Farrell said. At some points, the beach has disappeared.
"It's been clear for a long time what's been happening in that spot, but the township has failed to react to it," said George Welker, 56, president of Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach. Whale Beach is a section of Strathmere.
The grassroots group wants Strathmere to de-annex from Upper Township and create its own municipality or join Sea Isle City, he said. The group has filed suit in Cape May County Superior Court and the township has held hearings on the issue.
Strathmere is not the first Cape May County community to mount a secession effort. In the last five years, Avalon Manor lost a suit it filed against Middle Township to join Avalon Borough, and property owners in an area known as Diamond Beach, south of Wildwood Crest, wanted to secede from Lower Township until they reached an agreement concerning municipal services.
New Jersey courts generally frown on such suits, especially when they involve affluent communities that say they are being treated like tax cash cows.
But Welker said his group can prove that Upper Township has routinely neglected Strathmere. The current crisis is proof that the township has been remiss in responding to Strathmere's needs, he said.
As recently as five years ago, Welker said, up to a quarter-mile of meadows with cedar trees, dunes and a wide beach separated homes on the Point from Corson's Inlet. That area, Corson's Inlet State Park, is now virtually under water.
Welker, a lifelong resident of Strathmere, said members of his group - which includes most of Strathmere's 126 registered voters - fear for their entire town.
The community, two blocks wide and eight blocks long, sits on a peninsula surrounded by the ocean, the inlet and the bay.
Until recently, the town - founded in the early 1900s - was a quirky enclave of beach cottages, with little commercial enterprise, one church, a seasonal trailer park, and three restaurants.
As nearby towns became heavily populated summer resorts with expensive real estate and myriad attractions, a lack of sewer and water lines deterred development in Strathmere.
But 10 years ago, after the New Jersey-American Water Co. agreed to run a water line into the town, property values skyrocketed. The ramshackle cottages were torn down and replaced by multi-million-dollar homes. Many of the town's current 460 dwellings were built in the past decade.
"While our home values have tripled and quadrupled and our property taxes have increased, the services and attention we receive from Upper Township have not," Welker said.
"But it's not a money issue," he said. "It's that over and over, Upper has responded to problems in Strathmere on an emergency basis when [they] should be addressed as a routine part" of maintaining a beach community.
Palombo, the mayor, said creating a beach renourishment plan and obtaining funding is not as simple as residents may think. The state considers beach deterioration at the inlet area it owns to be a natural part of what occurs in an active waterway, he said.
The difference in their philosophies "has been our biggest issue in trying to figure out what to do," he said.
If the state provides 60 percent of the funding for the impending beach replenishment project, as it has promised, Upper Township will pay the rest, Palombo said.
"I think it's unfair for this group to try and use this crisis as foundation for their secession effort," the mayor said.
Township officials say losing Strathmere's ratables could increase property taxes for residents elsewhere in the municipality by as much as 20 percent.
Friday, October 24, 2008
By Nora Muchanic
STRATHMERE, NJ - October 24, 2008 - (WPVI) -- Strathmere, New Jersey, a community on the Jersey Shore, is in an 'erosion emergency' as a storm approaches this weekend.
Officials are worried about what's going to happen. Over the past few weeks, wind and waves have been eating away at the shoreline.
Crews have been installing seawalls and bulkheads on an emergency basis, worried that some of the properties could be flooded or worse if the water and the waves keep beating against the shoreline.
Mayor Rich Palombo says there's been a shocking loss of beach along the northern end of Strathmere. High winds and rough surf demolished 60 acres of Corson's Inlet State Park.
"We just got a complete washout," said Catherine Marshall of Strathmere. "It just disappeared. Its all underwater."
To protect the disappearing shoreline, and the properties next to it, in the last couple weeks hundreds of feet of steel bulkhead has been installed and contractors have been hired to dump boulders as heavy as 5 tons a piece along Neptune and Seaview Aves.
The hope is that will shoreup the bulkhead and break up the power of the waves crashing in.
"The fear is there will be some significant damage to the personal property of the homeowners that are here," said Mayor Palombo. "Last week we had alot of breach from the ocean coming over and driving waves and having some destruction on the infrastructure."
82-year-old Sarah Boardman had a $148,000 seawall installed behind her house.
"So they hit the wall, sounds like a machine gun. Then they make a projectile an come flying over here," Boardman said.
Some owners have filled and piled sandbags in front of their houses. This, as work crews are placing concrete jersey guards at the end of several streets to prevent them from being swamped and flooded as they were last week.
"This is almost as bad as back in '62. Back then half of that Neptune across the front there was washed away," said Bob Greenawalt of Chestnut Hill.
Cape May county officials are asking for a presidential disaster declaration. They're hoping that may free up money from FEMA to help shore up the area.
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Friday, October 24, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - Cape May County officials will seek a presidential disaster declaration to solve Strathmere's coastal crisis.
This island community has lost so much beachfront since Labor Day that the Atlantic Ocean threatens to swamp the north end with every high tide.
Cape May County Emergency Management Director Frank McCall said his office will be especially vigilant this weekend as a southeast storm is forecast to bring 30-knot winds to southern New Jersey.
Mayor Richard Palombo said the township on Thursday hired Agate Construction of Dennis Township to build a rock wall using boulders quarried from Pennsylvania pits. This will shore up a $250,000 steel bulkhead protecting homes at most risk of storm damage.
Township employees built a small rock wall along Neptune Avenue. The contractor will begin placing the boulders today, the mayor said.
In the meantime, McCall said he will take a regional approach to the problem. He will ask for a presidential disaster declaration that could help Strathmere and its neighboring shore towns get money through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Upper Township, Ocean City, Avalon and Sea Isle City each spent from $750,000 to $1.3 million on shore protection this year. Combined, this reflects a coastal crisis deserving of federal attention, McCall said.
McCall met Thursday with township officials and representatives from the State Police. They visited Strathmere to inspect the scope of the problem.
McCall said the changes in the past six months were staggering. Corsons Inlet State Park has virtually disappeared.
"We've lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 acres of state park that got washed into the Atlantic Ocean. Nobody really expects something like that," he said.
They drafted a report on the problem to submit to state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection.
"We have the interest of the DEP. We have the interest of the state Office of Emergency Management. We have the governor's attention," McCall said.
"We want to get a presidential declaration through FEMA. That's how it starts," he said.
In his 15 years in the job, McCall said Cape May County has received nine such declarations - two after blizzards and seven after severe coastal storms.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, participated in Thursday's meeting.
"This is more than a beach-nourishment project. It is an emergency situation," he said. "It requires the full attention of the state and possibly the federal government as well."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Cleve Bryan ( email@example.com ) - 10/23/08 04:16 pm
UPPER TOWNSHIP - Several residents whose properties are at risk in Strathmere's Northend have taken the work of protecting their homes into their own hands.
Jack Cooper says, "We got the lads here filling the sand bags so that we'll have a little protection from the water that may be running down the street if we get a pretty good storm."
After massive amounts of sand eroded from in front of the island's seawall, a nor'easter–like storm last weekend sent waves rolling down the streets.
Now a storm with driving rains and gale-force winds is predicted for this weekend.
Jay Edinger says, "If the water gets any higher it will probably start washing up into my driveway so I'm putting the sand bags down to keep the water from coming up and over the driveway into my garage."
Some homeowners say they've been through much worse storms and never had to worry like they do now.
Edinger says, "This house has been through the Hurricane of '44, the Storm of '62 and now we have a simple nor'easter and Strathmere's bracing for an emergency."
Township officials hope that the rocks at the end of Seaview Avenue which were not in place for last weekend's storm to stop the flooding will do the job this weekend, and tomorrow they're putting bigger rocks in place.
Some residents say it's reassuring to see Upper Township crews working to fortify the seawall, but they wish more could have been done sooner.
They never thought it would get to the point where they were constructing their own walls.
"Not exactly," says Cooper, "But we're lucky enough to have a beautiful home so you got to be here to protect it."
This video and photo are from Christine Adams Grexa, her family owns a home on Neptune.
This photo is really upsetting. One of my favorite things is to drive into Strathmere from Ocean City. There's an area along the road between the fishing bridge and our bridge where the bushes are clear, probably exactly where this photo was taken. I just love catching a glimpse of the Point beach and the houses as I'm driving into town.
That water there now is just very scarey.
ROCKS HOLD BACK THE SEA AS STRATHMERE LOOKS FOR AID
Cleve Bryan ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) - 10/22/08 04:40 pm
Last Updated - 10/22/08 05:32 pm
UPPER TWP.- The rock piles keep growing along the ocean front in Strathmere, as Upper Township Public Works employees try to save property and roadways from the encroaching ocean.
Since Mayor Rich Palombo declared a local state of emergency Sunday, it's been a battle on two fronts: the pounding sea and New Jersey's complicated bureaucracy.
Palombo says after a long wait for beach replenishment money in the first place, the township is now looking for help while dropping about $400,000 for emergency rocks.
"I don't know that anybody, the DEP or anybody, knew that the erosion that took place in the past 2 or 3 weeks would have gotten us to this point," says Palombo.
According to Cape May County's Director of Emergency Management Frank McCall, it's going to be a big-ticket item to come up with a longer-term solution for this erosion problem.
McCall says it’s going to take a lot of effort from state and federal lawmakers to push for appropriations to get money in this area.
"This is a huge challenge for a tiny rural township to deal with," says Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1).
Van Drew says he has been in contact today with the D.E.P., the State Office of Emergency Management and the Governor's Office to keep them informed on the extreme circumstances.
"We need technical expertise, we need some financial resources on the state owned property and we need the ability to get it all done which includes a limited state of emergency," says Van Drew.
It now a matter of time until the governor makes a decision whether or not to issue a limited state of emergency, which among other options could allow F.E.M.A. to pump in money.
With the tip of Strathmere in such a vulnerable state, the longer it takes, Palombo warns the more chance a major storm could wreak even more havoc here.
By Jacqueline L. Urgo
Inquirer Staff Writer
STRATHMERE, N.J. - With a powerful storm in the Jersey Shore forecast this weekend, emergency reenforcement of a beach bulkhead will begin today in an area known as the Point, in the northern section of this Cape May County community.
Upper Township officials authorized $300,000 for the project Tuesday, saying they feared that oceanfront homes on the strand from Corson's Inlet State Park east and south to an area between Seaview and Seascape Avenues could suffer heavy damage and flooding from the storm, which could create abnormally high waves on Saturday and Sunday.
Last weekend, a "dry nor'easter" - with no rain but sustained winds of 25 m.p.h. - pushed similar waves onto Strathmere's beaches and caused tidal flooding. Ocean water overlapped bulkheads and flowed into the town's main street, Commonwealth Avenue.
"Seeing the erosion and damage that occurred without even having a real storm worries us as we head into actual storm season," Mayor Richard Palombo said, referring to the period between October and March. "We feel we have a responsibility to homeowners to react to this situation."
The Shore is in for heavy rain and gale-force winds, meteorologist Jim Eberwine of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly said last night. Though not a classic nor'easter, he said, the storm will test beaches.
By Saturday afternoon, waves that normally run two to three feet high in Strathmere will likely be six or seven feet, Eberwine predicted.
At high tide Saturday night and on Sunday, wind-driven waves off the ocean and inlet will combine with heavy rain. That could mean the water "won't have anywhere to go," leading to significant beach erosion and flooding, Eberwine said.
Late Saturday and Sunday in Strathmere, waves crashed over a $250,000 steel seawall privately paid for by beachfront property owners and finished in August. Tons of sand had been trucked in at the town's expense a few weeks ago to bolster the bulkhead.
But much of that gravel and sand washed away, causing some residents to question the steel structure's integrity.
A $3 million to $4 million beach-replenishment project partially funded by the state is scheduled to begin in January. But that may be too late, Palombo said.
The tiny municipality, between Ocean City and Sea Isle City, obtained bonds to cover its portion of that project, about 40 percent of the cost, he said. It also has obtained most of the required property easements from homeowners.
"We're just waiting for the state to begin," Palombo said. "Even though state funding is difficult to come by and there are a lot of towns in need of beach replenishment, we feel our time is now and it's our turn."
The last significant beach replenishment in Strathmere was about seven years ago, he said.
Though $300,000 was allocated for this week's emergency measures, Palombo said yesterday that the bill could run as high as $425,000. Crews are expected to move in heavy equipment today, and tomorrow begin placing large rocks from a Pennsylvania quarry along 1,000 feet at the base of the existing steel seawall, creating a heavy barrier to minimize erosion and flooding.
The reinforcement will be topped with gabion, rock-filled wire-mesh boxes that are joined together to construct walls, Palombo said.
He said the township considered the effort to be little more than a Band-Aid.
"It's certainly a stopgap measure, but something's got to be done," Palombo said.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - The Township Committee approved $300,000 at an emergency meeting Tuesday to build a new storm wall in Strathmere.
The committee will hire a contractor to build a short, square wall using wire baskets filled with rocks. These sections will be placed in front of a bulkhead on the island's north end, including a section of state property.
The committee hopes to begin work as early as today.
The committee declared an emergency, allowing officials to hire contractors without public bidding.
The township's move Tuesday blunted some of the sharpest criticism from Strathmere residents, who planned to hold a news conference to air grievances about what they perceived as an inadequate response to coastal flooding. On Sunday, the island was swamped as northeast winds and tidal flooding pushed waves over a new bulkhead, flooding parts of the island.
Instead, Strathmere resident Jack Monaghan said he was satisfied with the township's move.
"I think it's terrific," he said. "They're going out of their way to help an emergency situation."
His neighbor, George Welker, interjected.
"Jack, when your house washes away, I'll send you a card: 'Wish you were here,'" Welker said. "There hasn't been a proactive ounce in their bodies."
Waves crashed over the low bulkhead on the north end, sending sea spray 20 feet in the air at high tide.
Workers used a front-end loader to build a small rock wall along the curb of Neptune Avenue as the incoming tide splashed just feet away. The surging waves hurled baseball-sized rocks into the yards of oceanfront residents, who spent $250,000 to install the steel bulkhead this year.
The short rock wall will shore up the bulkhead and prevent waves from undermining this protective wall. It will, on a far smaller scale, be similar to the rock wall used in the Cape May Canal that divides Lower Township.
"It will be the best option. We'll have most of it in place. There is a northeaster predicted for the weekend," Mayor Richard Palombo said.
Palombo said the coastal erosion this year proceeded more rapidly than even the township's coastal experts predicted. The erosion has virtually eaten away an entire state park on the island's north end, a strand that once was home to colonies of nesting black skimmers and least terns.
Mainland residents want to keep Strathmere in Upper Twp.
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008
UPPER TOWNSHIP - Mayor Richard Palombo visited Strathmere on Tuesday to examine the storm-damaged north end.
When he returned to his car, he found that someone had affixed a familiar black-and-white oval bumper sticker to the back of his Acura. It was the kind of sticker that identifies hometowns with acronyms such as "OC" or "LBI."
This one said "DNX."
"I can't catch a break with this," Palombo said, ripping the sticker off his car.
The Planning Board, on which the mayor serves, held a public hearing Tuesday on Strathmere's bid to de-annex from the mainland township to join Sea Isle City.
The board has hosted more than 30 hours of meetings on the secession bid since February. But the public hearing Tuesday proved anti-climactic.
The meeting only attracted a few dozen people at Township Hall. Fewer in the crowd opted to speak, and many of them were Strathmere residents whose opinions on the topic are known.
"By joining Sea Isle, it will help us be better managed as a beach community. The disconnect is so obvious right now," Strathmere resident Greg Bennett said.
"The issue is whether the needs of Strathmere will be better served by a town of common interests," Strathmere property owner John Edinger Jr. said. "We want to have a government that shares our interests and puts our interests in priority."
Strathmere is one of at least 11 unique hamlets in Upper Township. But this section of Upper has dominated discussion among the Township Committee in the past year, largely because of coastal erosion on the island. The township is gearing up for a $3 million beach fill this winter.
Strathmere's bid to secede is not the first in Cape May County. Avalon Manor lost a court battle to leave Middle Township. Diamond Beach south of Wildwood Crest threatened to leave before Lower Township made concessions to its island community.
New Jersey courts have not looked kindly on tax-shopping, in which neighborhoods try to join other communities with lower tax rates. So the civic group's case hinges on establishing a pattern of neglect by township officials.
Mainland residents outlined a variety of reasons why the board should deny the petition.
The township's auditor estimated this year that school taxes in Upper would climb 21 percent if Strathmere left. Meanwhile, property taxes in Strathmere and Sea Isle City would drop.
"I would hate to see us lose Strathmere," Seaville resident Gina Macom said. "We've already had a lot of budgeting problems in the schools. I'd hate to see more if we lost Strathmere."
Stephen Martinelli, of Petersburg, said Strathmere's beaches are as important to mainland residents as islanders.
"When I was 5 years old, I learned how to swim in the back bays of Strathmere," Martinelli said. "Beaches in Strathmere are a valuable natural resource. To lose them to Sea Isle would adversely affect all Upper Township residents."
He noted that Sea Isle City, unlike Strathmere, charges for beach tags and parking.
"I've never bought a beach tag in my life," he said.
He said the board should not let the latest flooding crisis in Strathmere influence its decision. Martinelli said Strathmere residents have only themselves to blame for building on the flood-prone island.
The board will make a non-binding recommendation to the Township Committee.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
11:49 p.m. Update - with photo gallery / UPPER TOWNSHIP –
The Township Committee approved $300,000 at an emergency meeting Tuesday to build a new storm wall in Strathmere. The committee will hire a contractor to build a short, square wall using wire baskets filled with rocks. These sections will be placed in front of a bulkhead on the island’s north end.
The committee hopes to begin work as early as Wednesday.
The committee declared an emergency, allowing officials to hire contractors without public bidding.
On Sunday the island was swamped as northeast winds and tidal flooding pushed waves over a new bulkhead, flooding parts of the island.
The short rock wall will shore up the bulkhead and prevent waves from undermining this protective wall. It will be similar to but on a far smaller scale than the rock wall used in the Cape May Canal that divides Lower Township.
“It will be the best option. We’ll have most of it in place. There is a northeaster predicted for the weekend,” Mayor Richard Palombo said.
Neighbors are meeting later today to voice complaints about the township’s perceived inaction over Strathmere’s coastal erosion.
These photos were sent to us by Maureen Faber - "My father owns the house at the end of the new bulk head that was just put in. We are meeting at his house - 400 N. Commonwealth Ave. - on Tues. 10/21 at 12:30pm with many residents of Strathmere and TV crews from Phila."
Monday, October 20, 2008
Upper Township Committee Will Hold Emergency Meeting
Government 2 hours 12 min ago
By Herald Staff
Published October 20, 2008
PETERSBURG – Upper Township Committee will hold an emergency special meeting Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. to implement a plan of action regarding beach erosion along the shoreline of Strathmere.
Committee members will meet at Township Hall , 2100 Tuckahoe Road, in Petersburg for the purpose of implementing an action plan concerning erosion occuring along the shoreline in the area north of Seaview Avenue including Seaview and Neptune avenues.
Formal action is expected to take place.
An emergency declaration in this matter to facilitate emergency property protection has already been implemented.
Bayview on the point -
Commonwealth & Seacliff -
On Seacliff looking towards Neptune -
Looking up Seaview to Neptune -
Welcome to Corson's Inlet State Park - or what's left of it. This used to be the path leading out to the point. The water is right up to that metal bulkhead. There is no beach left there at all. The point is gone.
Waves splashing over the metal bulkhead into a backyard.
The inlet looking across to Ocean City.
Looking north from the corner of Neptune and Seaview -
Looking towards the ocean from Neptune/Seaview. The township trucked in those stone yesterday. The waves are coming right up over them into the street.
Looking south down Neptune - Just one of several streets that you couldn't drive down during the high tide. The dunes are gone almost down to Winthrop.
Another look at the inlet from someone's backyard -
The water is deep and the waves are right up to the metal bulkhead. I know that I've already said that a few times, but you really can't believe just how bad it is.