Toms River Officials 'Redoubling' Efforts to Obtain Beach Easements
More robust dunes would help to prevent serious damage in another storm
Toms River officials are "redoubling" their efforts to obtain signed easements from private property owners for a federal beach replenishment program, and those who do not sign "do so at their own peril," according to a recent post on the township's Website.
Following Superstorm Sandy, the township requested easements from about 30 different entities along the ocean so that the United States Army Corps of Engineers can complete a major beach and dune restoration project. The corps would then return for re-nourishment every four years as necessary for the next 50 years.
"Based on the damage sustained on the dune and beach areas from two 'minor' Nor’easter storms in the past 60 days, it is clear that the long term viability of the barrier island in Toms River is entirely dependent on the USACE project and there can be no further delay," reads a statement posted to the township's Website this week.
"The USACE project, once completed, will provide long term stability and peace of mind to all of the residents on the barrier island. The time has long since past when property owners can ignore the ongoing threat from storms. The entire barrier island and bay front properties are at risk until this work is completed."
Had the project been completed before Sandy, "very little, if any damage" would have been sustained on the barrier island or inland, according to the township.
Because of the "serious threat to the health and safety of the residents and property owners," all viable legal options to move ahead with the project are being explored, something Township Council President George Wittmann said in January officials would do.
"Without the enhanced protection from the USACE project, the erosion of the beach and dune areas will continue and at a given point in time, it will no longer be feasible from an engineering or financial standpoint to re-build the dunes," the statement reads. "Moreover, unless the beach area is protected by way of the USACE project, it will no longer be feasible for the township to rebuild township facilities such as the boardwalk or rest room facilities that sustain damage in the future."
In addition to increased safety, the township also states that flood insurance rates will be reduced once the enhanced dunes are constructed.
According to the township, there has been "much misinformation" circulating regarding Toms River's intentions in gaining the easements. The following assurances to private property owners were given by the township:
- The township will not be constructing any facilities within any public easement areas including, but not limited to, parking areas, rest rooms, concession stands, or any other facilities of this type. In accordance with the legal provisions in the easement, there will be no construction within the easement area other than the dune/beach replenishment.
- Private associations which currently charge for beach badges can continue to do so if the easement is signed. There is no change to that policy in the easement. Moreover, private associations will continue to set the rules and regulations for use of the beach.
- Township issued beach badges are not "transferable" and will only include access to the township-owned beach area and will not extend to beach areas under the jurisdiction of private beach associations, regardless of whether or not an easement has been signed for dune/beach replenishment.
Owners of private oceanfront property will receive an information packet, which is also available on the township Website.
The Township Council has several Sandy-related items on its Tuesday meeting agenda, 6 p.m. in town hall.