Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Strathmere Library website

Here is the website for the Rita C. Schiavo Memorial Library in Strathmere -


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A plan for Strathmere

A plan for Strathmere

Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UPPER TOWNSHIP - The Township Committee amended its beach-management plan Monday with an optimistic outlook.

The plan dictates how the township will provide nesting room for shorebirds and beach-blanket room for tourists. Lately, the storm-damaged beaches have not been much good for either. Endangered and threatened shorebirds such as piping plovers, least terns and black skimmers have not nested in Strathmere for years.
Meanwhile, beaches popular with boaters have eroded to the point where there is precious little recreation room at high tide. The township hopes to change that with an
$8 million beach fill this year.
It spent $750,000 to build a rock wall last year along the north end of the island after erosion threatened to undermine several homes. The storm damage obliterated Corsons Inlet State Park from the north end of the island.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is slated to go out to bid this month on a massive project to replenish beaches in Upper Township, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor and North Wildwood, township Engineer Paul Dietrich said.
"We're the first priority. In conversations with the state, they always said we were the first priority, and they would start in Strathmere and work south," Dietrich said.

Once the beaches are restored, the township management plan will help tourists and wildlife share the sand amicably, he said.

The township is designating a catamaran beach between Hamilton and Irving avenues.

And it will restrict Public Works and Beach Patrol trucks and all-terrain vehicles from routine travel on beaches where the birds nest, particularly around Williams and Webster avenues. The township will ban all vehicular traffic if any piping plover eggs hatch to protect the vulnerable chicks.
The rules will not apply when lifeguards respond to medical emergencies or water rescues using trucks or ATVs.
The state asked the township to ban dogs from Strathmere's beaches weeks earlier on March 15. But the ban will be lifted 30 days earlier in the season or on Sept. 30.
"There are certain areas you want to limit disturbance before the birds get there," he said.
The state also wanted the township to ban kite-flying on its beaches during nesting season for fear the kites might scare away the skittish birds. But Dietrich said he did not include this ban because it would be too difficult to enforce.

Mayor Richard Palombo suggested lifeguards could ask families not to fly kites too near the nesting grounds.
Strathmere also has seen some rare beach plants over the years, including sea beach amaranth and beach primrose.
Strathmere residents who are hoping to de-annex from Upper Township to join Sea Isle City have been critical of the township's beach management. A formal plan was first adopted in 2002 after the last beach-replenishment project.
During de-annexation hearings before the Planning Board, Strathmere witness Doug Gaffney, a coastal engineer who formerly worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gave the Township Committee failing grades in maintaining its beaches, dunes, groins and dune fencing.

Gaffney testified that Upper Township did not have a plan in place for managing its beaches - unlike most every other barrier island in Cape May County. As a result, while Avalon, Stone Harbor, Ocean City and Cape May would be eligible for federal disaster funding to replace their beaches after a particularly bad storm, Strathmere would not.

Dietrich said this emergency-preparedness plan is different from a beach-management plan.

"They were trying to say that we did not have an engineered beach from FEMA's standpoint for shore protection. A beach-management plan is there for the protection of endangered species," he said. "They're two different things."
Strathmere resident Ted Kingston questioned township officials about the beach project's timeline.
"We're afraid it's going to be fall before they get started," he said.
Palombo said optimistically the project will begin in May. But the state's promise to expand the $8 million project to include Whale Beach is worth any delay, he said.