Letter: Homeowners and Township Must Discuss Beach Replenishment
A letter to the editor submitted on behalf of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association members
In reading various comments about beach replenishment and easement issues, it is evident there is a need for more dialogue between the Township of Toms River and beachfront homeowners. The Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association hopes the Township will open the lines of communications so that questions can be addressed. We hope the beachfront homeowners will be open to learn more. The playing field has changed post-Sandy and unless both sides work to resolve this issue quickly, there will be no beach and a much smaller barrier island to discuss.
Ortley Beach has lost so much sand into the streets and the bay that the natural process of beach replenishment could take centuries and may not be possible at all. Even if the Township builds dunes on the public beaches and the private beach owners build dunes on their property, this will not be enough to protect us. According to a presentation by Professor Jon Miller of Stevens Institute of Technology that was hosted by Toms River Township, an elevated and wider beach in front of the dunes is critical to reduce our vulnerability to future storms.
The Army Corps of Engineers has completed a study for beach replenishment from Manasquan Inlet/Point Pleasant to Seaside Park/Barnegat Inlet. Before Sandy the Ortley Beach dunes were less than half the size recommended by the Army Corp of Engineers and the beach was at a much lower level then the recommended 8-10 feet above sea level. We need easements from the private beach owners to make the Army Corp project happen. Once the Army Corp completes replenishment, they are committed to maintaining the beach for 50 years, returning every 4 to 5 years to replenish, which is why they require an easement in perpetuity.
New Jersey has the country’s attention and in light of the destruction the barrier island suffered, it is likely this project would be funded by the federal government. We hope Sandy was a once in a lifetime storm. But what if it wasn’t?
Our shore community and the preservation of the entire barrier coastline are at stake. We urge both sides to work together so that we can all have the confidence and peace of mind to rebuild our lives and invest in our community.
Kathy Barisciano, President
Joan Strathern, Director
On behalf of the 300-plus member families of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association