Thursday, November 13, 2008

Strathmere's rock wall to cost Upper Township more

Strathmere's rock wall to cost Upper Township more
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.


Anonymous said...

A boulder pile covered with sand is NOT the right way to do things. That sand will wash away in no time at all. This countermeasure should only be temporary at best. The town should seek a long term solution to this problem rather than relying on conventional knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. My grandfather built the original 60's style house eaten up my the gigantic, over the top, unnecessarily huge house that is now being eaten up by the sea. weird.