BERKELEY – A few poles, a couple new osprey nets, make up the new horizon of Good Luck Point’s marshland. Once home to hundreds of telecommunication poles that made up a ship-to-shore communication system, the poles were taken down from mid-January onward as part of a United States Fish and Wildlife Service project in the Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge which officials said focused on marshland sustainability.
The project removed several hundred poles from the old AT&T field in the marsh of Good Luck Point and scheduled 100 poles from its sister site in Manahawkin.
The long-decommissioned telecommunications poles were once part of a ship-to-shore network. The pole field is located along Bayview Drive in Berkeley and Beach Avenue in Manahawkin.
AMEC Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure supervised and contracted the work, which had specialty marine vehicles zipping through the marshland to work on the next pole.
The Refuge held public hearings last year on whether to proceed with the project as part of marsh resiliency, and completed some preliminary work in the fall to test drop some poles to prepare for the bulk of the project for January.
The Good Luck Point site included a shortwave transmitter building and antenna field, that in the 20th century operated under the call sign WOO, which helped broadcast Voice of America around the globe after 1944 and enabled communication with ships at sea.
The old poles often became perches for migratory birds, including osprey.
Osprey nests are large and often sit on a platform that were built on the old poles. With the poles removed, new poles had new platforms built and installed.
The project was a federal one, funded by Superstorm Sandy recovery dollars, but the AT&T building itself is owned by the township. Mayor Carmen Amato said the AT&T building will eventually come down too and a bird sanctuary or passive recreation/lookout point could be established there.
The township owns the building and is awaiting word from its engineers on how to demolish it and if any remediation is needed. The building had sat in disrepair for years before the township assumed control of it, and it now sits behind chain link fence.
Most of the area has No Parking signs and USFWS Refuge signage, while in some spots you can catch someone fishing near the culvert bridges in the area. One of the culverts will also be replaced as part of the USFWS project, upgraded from its old piping, AMEC Foster Wheeler said.