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Council President: 2013 a 'Challenging' Year for Toms River

Township must pay for Sandy damage and protect barrier island from storms

Column as submitted by Toms River Council President Maurice Hill:

The New Year — 2013 — will be a very challenging one for Toms River in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. We still have debris cleaning (at one point in the operation we were removing over 17,000 cubic yards of debris per day), sand removal, screening and beach and dune replenishment, coordination with utilities as they repair their infrastructure and finally repair of the Township roads and bulkheads.

As our Town and residents start to rebuild we are faced with two main issues- how do we pay for the repair of the damage done by Sandy and how do we protect the barrier island and our Town from future storms? The budget process has been severely impacted by the storm and will be protracted this year as we deal with the clean up costs.

The Town has suffered the loss of an estimated 20 percent of our tax ratable base which translates to a 20 percent loss in revenues that fund our municipal operating budget and the school and county taxes we must collect. We are working with both the State and Federal Government to fund the cost of debris removal and loss of revenues. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been onsite since the storm and has indicated that they will reimburse us between 75-90 percent of our debris removal and repair to our Township infrastructure as a result of the damage from the storm. We have had several meetings with the State and are requesting increased municipal State aid to cover our costs and revenue losses as we rebuild and stabilize our ratable base. The estimates are that it will take between 3-5 years to rebuild our community. Our budget will depend on State aid and could be delayed until June.

The second issue is how to protect our barrier island and community from future storms. Communities like Seaside Park were protected by wide beaches and 20-foot dunes and sustained minimal damage on the oceanfront.  We have contacted the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) regarding beach and dune replenishment to withstand the force of future storms. The ACOE requires that public access agreements be signed with the private landowners and condominium associations who own the oceanfront properties before they can use public funds to complete the project. We have contacted all the oceanfront property owners and supplied them with the access agreements required by the ACOE. We are working with their legal representatives to answer any questions they may have. The beach and dune replenishment is critical to the protection of not only the oceanfront properties but all of the properties on the barrier island and bayfront as well.  

While there is a lot of hard work ahead of us the American spirit has always been one of optimism and a "can do" attitude which with persistence and perseverance can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. We will recover from the devastation of Sandy and emerge stronger and better prepared for a brighter future.

Mo Hill

T.R. Resident January 02, 2013 at 12:16 PM
No surprise that there is no mention of helping our residents rebuilding !! There is mention of losing ratables though.Hmmmm.You lost your ratables because homes & businesses are destroyed - sorry if 'we the affected' - don't care about how we pay for clean up. You'd hope the township would say, how can we help?Didn't happen & it won't happen as anyone can see this article , by it's omissions , tell the story.It's all about the almighty dollar NOT the people.
George January 02, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Tell Mo that TR is a township not a "Town" witha capital T. How about telling the millionaire campaign contributors with oceanfront houses that their VIEW be damned... Use eminent domain to get easements for building dunes now! Every duneless view caused HUNDREDS of other houses to be flooded, not only on the barrier island, but also in bay-front neighborhoods on the mainland, like Silverton.
Irina January 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM
No easement, no help.....There you go Mo repeat this statement to those who don't sign.
Tired of the status quo January 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM
You are not wrong with your comment that is about the "almighty dollar"in this township. But, what everyone has to remember here is that it is not just one part of the township that was hit by this storm it was the WHOLE township that was hit! Unfortunately there are MANY MANY people who were and are still affected by this storm but, there is only so much money to go around. I am one of those people affected on the barrier island, I am also one of those people who could not afford to pay for flood insurance so I am trying to do the best I can to repair my home with the little bit of money that I recieved from FEMA. My insurance company told me due to the fact that I did not have flood insurance they were not going to cover anything. Blaming people is not going to change anything, the way to make things change is when everyone pulls together for the good of the community and helps their neoghbor. I personally have found that all I have had to do was ask for some help and I recieved it. There are many good people out there who are willing to lend a helping hand. What everyone has to do is stop looking for the government to solve the problems. As you can see allowing government to get involved in things that they should not be is the reason why this township, county, state and country are in the shape that they are in. In closing if you do not like the way that the township is going do what many of us have tried to do VOTE THEM OUT!!
Sue January 02, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Owners of oceanfriont mansions can afford to do without help, so they'll insist on their almighty view instead of dunes. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be flooded in the next storm because politicians like Mo won't stand up to those big-bucks guys. Use EMINENT DOMAIN for easements, for the good of all, so beach replenishment and dune-building can proceed ASAP!
Charles Goldate January 02, 2013 at 02:28 PM
That's the ticket. The government uses eminent domain to build roads, schools, ect. Now take the beach back and build the dunes. Peolpe talk about the bay being filled with sand and debris from Sandy and that's why we flooded again on December 20, 2012. Do you know how much sand and debris would have to enter the bay to raise the water level that much? The barrier island is not doing it's job. We need to re-build the dunes asap. Take the beach back from those homeowners who refuse to allow the ACOE to re-build the dunes and protect the rest of the people. DO IT NOW!
YouthPastor January 02, 2013 at 02:41 PM
I live in Silverton which has gotten flooded twice in the last two weeks, as well as during hurricane Sandy. There is wide speculation here as to why we are getting flooded so much and so easily since the hurricane, and man y dfeel that it is because the bay is filled so much more with sand... does anyone have any idea if this is true, and if there is talk of dredging the bay to help lower the water table again to help reduce flooding?
1stcav January 02, 2013 at 03:09 PM
YP: Yes the bay IS filled with sand and the water HAS new high and low tides..This IS the NEW norm , until dredging takes place...who knows WHEN/ IF that will be done...Seek higher ground , get good boots... & pray a lot !
grace January 02, 2013 at 03:51 PM
its so selfish of the few who feel so entitled...
Mark January 02, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Several thoughts: *Where's Mayor Kelaher's "statement? Is he aware of what happened? *Whys the TR rebuilding Ocean Ave? Did they get input from Ortley residents? *Why hasn't TR created a special "Sandy"committee with several residents as members to make recommendations on rebuilding etc etc *Why did the Council allow the TR engineer to write a letter recommending additional barrier homes be put into the "V" zones (greater risk and higher flood insurance rates! *Why does Mayor Kelaher leave Council meetings before the public comments? *When will TR start street sweepings? The dusty conditions is surly a health hazard? *Why were the "new" dunes restored to the same inadequate height as before the storm? ( Because that's all FEMA will pay for!)
BKS January 02, 2013 at 04:25 PM
I don't disagree that the barrier island should have dunes. However, the residents on the "mainland" have a lot to say now that the barrier island needs help. Where we're these residents when our taxes DOUBLED and our house assessments went UP 300%? If the mainland picks and chooses what they want to assist us with, do we get the same courtesy? I don't use the school, the senior services, the libraries, etc. but my taxes pay for them. I know - I choose not to use them, however, the same could be said for people choose not to buy a home on the barrier island. BTW - many people who have homes on the island are blue collared, hard workers who sacrifice in many other areas of their lives to be able to afford these homes (myself included). Maybe we should ask Mr. Ritacco to help out??
Don Lombardi January 02, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Congratulations, Council President Hill. Yes, there are llots of challenges facing Toms River, not the least of which is post-Sandy relief. I suggest you and other Council members consider a full-blown MARCH ON WASHINGTON sometime soon. Other communities that experienced Sandy's wrath, might want to join us, along with their politicians. Congress foolisly closed the door, at least for now, on giving NJ and neighboring states the urgent attention needed to respond effectively and efficiently to the recovery and rebuliding we face. Nothing short of a news-grabbing, backs-to-the wall, exuberant, timber-shaking show of our resolve. Let's do it!!!
Chief Wahoo January 02, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Mo, Mo, Mo.....looks like your government is 20% BLOATED now......The people have no money left , so Mo, its CUT CUT CUT
Martin January 02, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Assessments are based on market value. Oceanfront houses sold for a lot more than others. Even your VIEW is worth $375,000 (according to a recent court case). That's more than most other TR homes. But your view (unobstructed by dunes) was responsible for an ocean breach that flooded hundreds of other houses, including many on the mainland near the bay. ==> If you won't give an easement for beach replenishment and dunes, the township and state should use EMINENT DOMAIN and get it done -- for the safety of us "little people."
Vinny Varvaro January 03, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Not only a visit to our nation's capital, how about taking a play out of the the mayor of Belmar's book and visit an area like Mississippi to learn how to rebuild. http://nj1015.com/belmar-mayor-learns-lessons-after-visiting-mississippi-audio/ Hurricane Sandy will be causing issues for many residents longer than the Kelaher will be mayor and many of the council persons will sit in their current positions, so why not learn from others and keep the pedal to the metal on those who can help Toms River, mainland and barrier island, rebuild.
SystemIsBroken January 03, 2013 at 03:40 AM
Perhaps our local Republican Cronies (That means you too puppet master George Gilmore) should speak up like Gov Christie, Congressman Peter King. about the lack of action in the House of Representatives Yo MO better start cutting NOW the Calvary AINT coming from DC Stop describing the problem and DO YOUR JOB Solve the Problem!!!
Stephanie Sevastakis January 03, 2013 at 04:15 AM
I heard that there is already a plan in place to dredge the bay and river and it will take up to a year. I didn't hear that from government officials, I heard it from a realtor whose client was approached to use his Rt 37 property to store their equipment trailers while they were dredging.

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