A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the dunes in Ortley Beach. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to read it and especially those who posted comments both pro and con. The feedback is very much appreciated. The purpose of writing and posting my thoughts on the Patch is to try to get people engaged in the rebuilding of Ortley Beach and protect ourselves and our Town from future storms.
Those two words rebuild and protected have different meanings to different people. To me rebuild means to do the rebuilding in a smart, sensible and affordable way.
The way we rebuild our dunes directly affects the flood zones, types of foundations to be used as well at the building elevation. How we rebuild and to what elevation directly affects our flood insurance premiums. The decision on how our dunes are rebuilt has to be based on the best possible dune/ beach replenishment system available. The best knowledge available on how to build the dunes should be used. The ability to maintain the dune/seawall and replenish the beaches has to be based on the ability of all concerned parties to work together. We owe it to ourselves to install the best protection system available.
The Beach front property owners and their Beach Association’s that took the liberty to rebuild their dunes should be congratulated. They say they alone took on the responsibility to rebuild their private dunes. They go on to say, they used their own money to rebuild these dunes. I have to say thank you for your hard work and financial contribution to the public safety.
Now comes the part where those of you who own or are involved with private beach front property owners start to disagree with me. The sole purpose for having the Army Corps of Engineers build and maintain the beach dune/seawall replenishment system is to have one unified system. This system would have one
group in charge of building and replenishing the system. I hope you can see how important that is. Katrina is a proven fact that their system works.
Suppose three or more powerful storms (Nor’easters) hit our shores in a four month period. Does anyone really want the repair or replenishment of our first line of defense left up to a property owner who may not have the necessary cash on hand or resolve to repair the damage? What about the beach property owner
who doesn’t live in the area on a full time basis? What if their repair doesn't hold up? What is the course of action for people who depend on that section of dune? In some cases one owner may have their own idea how the dune should be built, and maybe their dune will not join up with the design of someone else. Don’t you think that is way too many factors and variables to worry about?
One design by a group that has the expertise pertaining to this matter has to be better than multiple designs. We cannot have the same multiple dune system we had before Sandy. It’s a proven fact that in a lot of cases the dunes just did not hold up. The definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” What about the mindless waste of money involved? So please let us all stop the insanity.
There were some comments that were made against the easement issue I agree with, if these comments are found to be true. My questioning the truth of the
comment is not because I think the person(s) lied, but the reason I question all the comments about the easement issue is the proven lack of upfront truthful information. I blame the confusion on a misinformed public. The hot tempers affect clear judgment. I blame the hot tempers on the person(s) or
agency(s) in charge of the easement issue. No one in Government is informing the general public on the particular issues involved with beach easements. What rights are the land owners giving up? Are the public demands on the beach front property owners outrageous? Could the demands being made make it impossible for a reasonable person to sign? Unfortunately, we the general public cannot answer those questions. No wonder tempers are raging, no one knows the facts.
The general public does not know what is involved in signing these easements. For all we know a lot of beach front property owners may want to sign on, but the demands are just too great. We as a general public must be informed. The beach easement issue directly affects us all. The government agency in charge has to post or make public in a clear concise way what is expected from the property owners asked to sign the easement. We don't even know if each Township has added a separate list of demands to their easement issue.
All I know is that the Army Corps of Engineers are able and willing to build a dune/ beach replenishment system and maintain it for 50 years. There will be no cost to the property owner. In some cases Jon K. Miller Ph.D. said that the beach needs to be enlarged. Beach front property owners and their association get to keep their money, and possibility in some cases get their property enlarged. Sounds like a win, win situation to me.
You do not have to be a mental giant to figure this one. Without even knowing the demands, I smell the Township pushing their personal political agenda. If the demands were fair, the deal would be too good to pass up. If the property owners were being unreasonable, I’m sure the Township would be speaking to any media outlet that is available, blasting the property owners for being a bunch of hard nose, selfish individuals who are too demanding. All we hear the Township say is that our safety depends on getting the dunes built. The Townships are not posting any of the demands to get the public on their side.
The mayor of Toms River was interviewed on Comcast. He had the chance to state what demands were being asked in return for signing the beach easements. Instead he said that he had truck load after truck load of sand brought in for the public beaches. They did the same thing after the Veterans Day storm of 2009. If you all remember that storm, sand trucks were lined up for miles. The dumping and placing of sand took weeks. The next major storm a few weeks later washed most of the sand away and in some cases all the sand washed away. The Township put back what seemed like half as much sand to replace the washed away sand. Does anyone remember sand being replaced after Irene hit. So now by the time Sandy hit there was hardly any dunes or beach left, (just a little walk down memory lane) They can’t continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The dune system we had was totally dysfunctional over time. What about the mindless waste of money involved? What happens with this new dune when FEMA money runs out and we still don’t have a proper dune system? Where does the money come from then? Who pays? So please let us all stop the insanity. (Remember the definition of insanity; doing same thing etc.).
The mayor offered no reassurances to the beach front property owners, except to say the town would not open any hot dog stands. I know it is cool to be glib, but in this case real cool is just being candid. In all fairness to the mayor he was being interviewed and could only answer the questions asked. Since the purpose of the interview was, the "state of the dunes and the progress being made on the beach easement issue." This interview turned into another missed opportunity (for this I blame the interviewer) to ask specific informing questions about the public/private dune easement situation. The mayor too, is also to blame, for he had his chance to publicly state the Townships list of demands that are involved with the signing of the beach easements. This could have finally ended the controversy over the dune easement issue. But again, another missed opportunity. The only rhetoric you hear from the Township is how the beach front property owners are holding the rest of us hostage.
Now until I hear or read the bill of particulars that pertain to the beach easement issue, I for one, am going to a neutral corner. I strongly suggest that you all do the same. We are all taking one side or the other. In my opinion, we are just arming ourselves with a lot of misinformation and the only thing we are accomplishing is a stale mate.
The issue of beach easements is a very important issue that needs to be settled as soon as possible. We need to know all the facts and if each side is bargaining in good faith. With all that being said, I feel the Army Corps of Engineers is our best source of protection. No one can argue with the one dune, one system and one group responsible for the next 50 years. It just seems to me that one side is trying to take advantage of the other. Our personal safety and general welfare should not depend on one side or the others petty demands but on the safety of the Town. Therefore, I am requesting the Townships to make their beach easement demands public. Once the demands are known the public can make an informed decision. I for one would like to know who is playing games with our safety and welfare.