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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

Dear Editor: 

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

Johnjcpa February 20, 2013 at 04:38 PM
BKS Sorry you can't return and hope you will be able to soon. But your argument about guards, etc. doesn't really make much sense. As the major expense of maintaining the dunes will be taken off your hands, and thus protect your homes, you are much better off giving the easement. Whether or not you want to have guards and bathrooms can be addressed by a badge system, just as other beaches do. It's not like there are thousands of parking spaces that will have hordes of beach goers flocking to what in essence will still be mostly private beaches.
Michael Capo February 20, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Johnjcpa...I respectfully disagree with one of your points. Toms River did in fact insist that after an easement is granted, the beach associations will continue to be responsible for ALL beach operating expenses (guards, maintenance and liability insurance), in perpetuity. And it would not have taken the expenses off of our hands. The expenses would remain as is with an increased liability. I do agree with your contention that it "doesn't really make much sense". It was a huge hurdle that could not be resolved as Toms River dug their heels in, leading to our decision to build our own dunes. Also, we saw what Toms River built on Ortley public at a cost of $1.6 million. That kind of sealed the deal for us.
Michael Capo February 20, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Based on some of the things I hear and see coming out of Toms River, seems to me like Rittaco still has some influence. LOL
Just another day February 20, 2013 at 05:30 PM
@Michael Capo.....Are they built to the US Army Corp of Engineer specs? Or did they build a puney dune big enough to give them all a false sense of safety so not to impede their water view? That's the question that needs to be answered and proven. Nobody deserves to be washed away by no fault of their own because of a few (I am speaking of Bay Head or Mantalokiing too) who refuse to give up their view at the expense of others.
Johnjcpa February 20, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Michael, unless I have been misinformed about what you will be able to do, how is having a badge system to pay for the guards, maintenance and insurance any different than Midway Beach ( where we had a bungalow for 50 years), SSP, SSH, etc. As long as you sell badges to the public, I doubt that there will be anyone on your beaches other than your members and their guests. We used to buy 4 seasonal badges for adults and they stayed with the bungalow for whoever used was staying.
BKS February 20, 2013 at 05:34 PM
I understand and respect your point, however, the easements are very loosely worded. T.R. states the associations MUST provide "adequate" parking, bathrooms, etc., built at the association's expense. When asked what "adequate" was, T.R. would not commit to specifics. The residents don't want to make a homeowner association financial commitment when they don't even know where they stand personally. Unfortunately, T.R. is playing upon emotions at this point - they are pitting mainlanders against islanders, which is extremely sad during this time.
Really? February 20, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Absolutely, positively agree with you Martin. I've been over the bridge many times since the storm and it is obvious that areas that did not have dunes or adequate dunes, caused the devastation to the innocent homeowners on the mainland.
Michael Capo February 20, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Johnnjcpa.....Like anything else, the insurance company will not cover our liability if the beach is open to the general public. That is of course we want to pay outrageous premiums. That would necessitate badge fees in the double digits, which would not fly. TR must have a policy covering the public Ortley beach and could have easily offered to cover our beach under that policy if they really wanted to deal in good faith. But that was never mentioned.
Michael Capo February 20, 2013 at 05:53 PM
good point
Angelo Turello February 20, 2013 at 05:55 PM
We need big beaches
Johnjcpa February 20, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Michael, I sold my Midway Beach cottage in 2006 but as far as I know, they are still able to get insurance. Being open to the general public doesn't mean there isn't a practical limit to how many might be able to use the beaches at any point in time. Not that insurance companies are practical or reasonable. I'm far enough from the shore and high enough that if the entire barrier island was underwater, my basement would be dry. Some insurance companies will still not cover my home. Somehow I think there should be away to resolve this, and I think that the main issue still is the requirement that access be more open if the Army Corps is going to complete the replenishment. I believe they are already committed to redo LBI and there is only so much ocean going dredging capability on the East coast.
Just another day February 20, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Martin your so right....Eminent domain is the only way to go. Time is being wasted arguing with selfish people because they don't want to sign an easement. Public funds should never be spent on private beaches. If I lived in an association. I'd want dune built by the Army Corp of Engineers. These people should overthrow their associations.
Just another day February 20, 2013 at 07:30 PM
When Toms River, FEMA and Army Corp of Engineers come and inspect and find your dunes are inadaquate then all of you in your association just wasted alot of time and money.
Seriously? February 20, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Amazing. You people are worried about boardwalks and public toilets. There are families on the mainland whose year-round houses were damaged by the storm surge because of the lack of dunes on the island. Many of those people, whose houses never flooded at all, now have to raise their houses in accordance with the FEMA regulations and can't afford it. All because you don't want boardwalks and public toilets. Maybe Toms River and the State of New Jersey should go to court to dissolve all these homeowner's associations along the oceanfront in the interest of the safety and well-being of all the residents of Toms River, and not just a select few. Better yet, let the government declare eminent domain, buy out each and every homeowner on the oceanfront, raze these little "associations" and let Mother Nature take back what's rightfully hers.
Michael Capo February 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Johnjcpa admittedly we didnt shop for a better premium. I was just going on what our current carrier said. And in the short timeframe that Toms River gave us to make a decision (contacted us on Tues before Thanksgiving demanding an answer by following Monday) we didnt have time to even think straight. A better deal may have been out there. Now the point is moot for the near term since we built the dunes. But ya never know .
Pat S. February 20, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Did it ever occur to anyone who wants to blame private homeowner's associations that perhaps you should look at the real reason so many people lost so much? Toms River did not build adequate dunes or maintain even the insufficient ones that they put on the public beach. Besides that, they were made aware that the openings, especially the major one at the end of Harding Ave, were a disaster waiting to happen. And how about the Surf Club- no dunes were there either. The areas surrounding these breaches were among the worst hit. Maybe you should focus on the biggest offender, Toms River, who even now put back inferior dunes because that is all FEMA would reimburse them for. With the revenue that the public beach earns for the town, they could have at least tried to construct something stronger. .
BKS February 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Not worried about public toilets, worried about it being MANDATORY I pay to build and maintain those toilets - with $$$ I dont have! If T.R. wants to take over the costs of dunes, insurance, payroll, etc. - by all means let them, and this includes dissolving homeowners associations! Regardless of what is being reported, thousands of people have also lost their YEAR-ROUND homes (that also have never flooded) on the island. Like I said earlier, T.R. is pitting residents against one another and it is sad.
Stephanie Sevastakis February 21, 2013 at 04:08 AM
From a mainlander's perspective this letter was very well written and every attempt was made, NOT to blame anyone but to encourage communication and cooperation from both sides. I believe that previously, the Township did not have enough solid info from the Feds to negotiate with the homeowners other than exactly what they were told by the FEMA reps. The Township needs to have a meeting with this association and give them the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and then tough decisions must be made just like these representatives said.
KC February 21, 2013 at 06:27 AM
Kathy, as I read your letter the forecast for the midwest to New England wallop is being broadcast. This is the new normal. As your letter states - We need the dunes.
KC February 21, 2013 at 06:37 AM
Lets set up the Ritacco tent on the beach on Memorial Day and have a giant cook out barbecue for all displaced by the storm and all who want to help. If people are still displaced they can have the option to sqatt in the Tent. Open to toK
Kimbo Sliceopizza February 21, 2013 at 10:47 AM
TR is being run like a small town by complete nitwits. They honestly don't care about Ortley, neither does the governor - he went to seaside & lavallette...
letsgetreal February 21, 2013 at 11:48 AM
I attended the Senate Hearing in Toms River last week and a half and It was very clear from the Colonel who represented the Army Corp. He said unless they have unanimous agreements throughout the entire beach allowing for the easements and the issue of public and private beaches not be contested NO replenishment will take place. With that said he also spoke of having to re-conduct studies replacing the ones in place due to the Sandy destruction which will take a minimum of 2 years. In reality the replenishment's will not be started in the area for at least another 3 years. I almost fell from my chair when I heard this. For anyone not believing me I would assume the minutes from this meeting have to be recorded somewhere. Sadly the Senate seemed as astonished as most of the people in the audience. Also speaking at the hearing were Professors of Rutgers (Environmentalists), Stockton (Dune specialists) The Township attorney. I left thinking that the reality of the Toms River area and our beaches are in for a rude awakening due to poor communication, environmental issues, and YES litigation. At some point common sense has to prevail........keeping fingers crossed and one eye open.
Pat S. February 21, 2013 at 02:28 PM
And that's assuming that the government will fund the project which it hasn't in a number of years. So nothing is a definite.
dainty February 21, 2013 at 02:36 PM
When Gov Christie spoke at Lavallette Firehouse, he saw a sign from Dover Ave and Diane Lane, he sent someone over to speak to them. He also said he would be back! You are not forgotten! Its a disaster and a huge learning curve!
Just another day February 21, 2013 at 04:15 PM
@Seriously? Well said....If Ortley Beach, Bay Head and Mantoloking don't sign the easements then we on the mainand will get flooded again. Why should we be victims because of a selfish bunch. I say EMINENT DOMAIN all of them. Public money should NEVER be spent on private property.
I want my beach back February 22, 2013 at 07:36 PM
I have said it before and I will say it again, it is not the owners' responsibility to protect our shores, it is the responsibility of the United States of America to protect our shores. Although I have much regard for our governor, it is time he stops talking and starts taking action. Take the private beaches away from the private beach owners and protect our barrier island. The owners cannot afford to pay for raising homes and that isn't going to solve the problem anyway. It is amazing how the US always has money to help other countries, but the US can't help and protect us and where are those countries now, now that we could use some help. Thank you to all the hundreds/thousands of volunteers that have given their time and effort, but we need the government to give us some support and help, REBUILD OUR DUNES - NOW!!!!!!!!!!!
Disgusted February 22, 2013 at 08:22 PM
This is insane...NJ and Gov Christi should take over ALL 195 miles of what should be PUBLIC BEACH and let's stop this private beach discussion. For those private beach clubs with their noses in the air..not to worry since you have parking regulations which make it impossible for anyone other than yourselves to park anywhere near a beach anyway. GOV CHRISTY....NO MORE DEBATE...JUST CALL ALL BEACHES PUBLIC PROPERTY AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT TO KEEP OUR BARRIER ISLANDs.
letsgetreal February 26, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Pat Actually I thought the same thing. The Colonel did say that Congress already approved 280 million for beach replenishment on the studies conducted and signed off on. But now new studies have to be made they will need Congress to again vote and provide new monies for any new replenishment..Good Luck right
Just another day February 26, 2013 at 05:26 PM
The Army Corp of Engineers, Toms River and the Governors office already made it quite clear that EASEMENTS are a nessessity. Why should the mainland flood again because of the selfish people on the barrier island ? I suggest EMINENT DOMAIN and a BF Bulldozier. Why should the rest of the town suffer because of a few elistists and the selfish?
TomsBoy March 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I have written at lest four blogs that were posted on the Patch, addressing this issue. I have addressed many of the same topics, you mentioned in your letter. The more we inform the public the better the chances of getting the easements signed and the Dunes built. I would like to personally thank the Ortley Beach Voters & Taxs payers Association for joining the fight. The Dune issue, the most important issue on the table right now we all have to get more involved. I would like to offer what ever help I can to your Association. Thanks again for getting involved- TomsBoy If you want to read my posted Blogs you can search them out on the Patch. I feel you my find them helpful.

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