BRICK – Homeowners from the barrier island community of Normandy Beach attended council meetings from December 2019 through February 2020 to ask for the township’s help since streets that previously flooded a couple of times a year now flood about twice a month.
Normandy Beach is located in one of the township’s low-lying areas that sits at just 1.5 feet above the water line. Residents say there is a safety hazard when the streets flood since cars can’t pass through the only road that exits the community.
They said cars, mail trucks, school buses and package delivery trucks could not drive through the flooded streets.
“What happens basically is if there’s a high tide a certain amount above a normal high tide, the water comes up through the drains,” said Mayor John G. Ducey during the May 26 council meeting.
In January, the governing body hired ACT Engineering, who was tasked with coming up with a strategy that would put Brick in the queue for FEMA funding for projects that could help to alleviate flooding there. ACT Engineering was identified as a firm with a successful track record in projects that have resulted in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding.
The engineering company has determined that elevating roads could reduce flooding. Since Normandy Beach is divided between Brick and Toms River, the townships have entered into a shared services agreement for securing state funding for roadway elevations for the flood-prone sections there.
New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is accepting applications for state aid projects for 2021, and this agreement will result in a joint application to benefit residents in both municipalities, Ducey said.
As part of the agreement, Toms River will prepare and submit a joint application to the NJDOT for 2021 funding for the street elevation projects. This project will focus on Broad Street and portions of 5th, 6th and 7th Avenues.
The design of the project and the construction estimate will be prepared by Toms River’s professionals with assistance from Brick Township. The cost of these services will be distributed proportionally between the two municipalities.
Toms River will be responsible for seeking bids and awarding the contract for the project.
The shared services agreement will go into effect on June 1, 2020 and is contingent upon being awarded NJDOT funds. The agreement will expire upon final acceptance of the project by the NJDOT.
During public comment, Normandy Beach resident Eileen Morano asked what happens to homeowners’ property when the roads are raised.
“That project includes raising sidewalks, raising storm drains, adapting driveways to the height,” she said. “Are the homeowners expected to fund those changes in any way to their driveways?” she asked.
Morano said she is concerned that the road elevation project would just move the water from the roadways onto the properties.
“If someone could just briefly explain to me where the water goes, that would be great,” she said.
Township Administrator Joanne Bergin said that the two townships would be working together on the engineering project, which has not yet been completed.
“We can’t answer the question now because we haven’t designed it,” she said. “The shared service agreement authorizes us to go ahead and start doing that with Toms River, which we’ll do expeditiously and hope to discuss it more at the next council meeting.”
In other news, the council unanimously passed an ordinance on its final reading that would allow existing restaurants to apply for a permit to allow outdoor dining until restrictions due to the coronavirus are lifted.
The governing body also passed resolutions that temporarily waives the normal $150 permit fee, and that allows the outdoor dining ordinance to come into effect immediately.
An ordinance usually goes into effect 20 days after its final passage, so this allows businesses to submit their applications immediately.
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, June 9 at 7 p.m.