OCEAN COUNTY – The county government said it would be funding the entire local cost of a planned beach replenishment for the northern barrier island.
Last year, the county agreed to pay half of the $7,550,000 local cost for the project. Each town would have to contribute.
Berkeley, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Toms River, Lavallette, Brick, Mantoloking, Bay Head, and Point Pleasant Beach make up the northern barrier island municipalities that will be receiving assistance.
“We know our local municipalities have faced financial struggles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and we also are well aware of the economic and environmental importance of our beaches,” Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn said. “After reviewing the issue further, the Board has agreed that rather than fund 50 percent of the local share for this project, it will fund 100 percent.”
The total state-wide project will cost $60 million, officials said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pay $30 million, with the remaining $30 million coming from the state and local share.
The mayors had approached Commissioner John P. Kelly, who co-chairs the Ocean County Department of Finance with Quinn, for help.
Quinn said, “we are here to work with you. We are here to help your towns. Our beaches are very important to us and we want to make sure we do all we can to get this project done.”
The beaches have been battered by late fall and winter storms and this project is the first major beach replenishment scheduled by the Army Corps of Engineers along that area since it completed repairing and strengthening beaches in the years following Superstorm Sandy, county officials said.
“The Ocean County Commissioners really stepped up for the taxpayers of Toms River and the barrier island towns by agreeing to fund the approximately $7.5 million local share of the $60 million US Army Corp of Engineers beach replenishment project that is commencing soon,” said Toms River Mayor Maurice B. “Mo” Hill. “I thank all of the Commissioners, especially Deputy Director Gary Quinn and Commissioner Jack Kelly of the Finance Committee, as well as Director Joe Vicari, Commissioners Ginny Haines and Bobbi Jo Crea, for recognizing that our beaches and dunes benefit the entire county and the state. It is an undue burden for the taxpayers of the host communities to shoulder this cost.
“Over the last several months the nine barrier island mayors have worked together as a team to lobby both the county and the state to fund this project,” he said. “I would especially like to thank Mayor Bill Curtis of Bay Head and Mayor Lance White of Mantoloking for their hard work and partnership in making this happen. Bay Head, Mantoloking and Ortley Beach in Toms River have suffered the most erosion. Our residents would have been on the hook for the majority of the $7.5 million.”
“I would like to thank the Board of Commissioners for their support and financial assistance in beach replenishment in Berkeley Township,” Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato said.
“This takes a massive weight off of our shoulders. We deeply appreciate what you are doing,” Mantoloking Mayor E. Laurence “Lance” White said.
“This is very good news,” Brick Township Mayor John G. Ducey said noting the County’s action will help the township as it moves ahead with its budgeting process. “This helps our budget.”
Bay Head Mayor William Curtis also extended his appreciation to the Board of Commissioners and the mayors for working together. “This is good news for our Borough and all the beaches along the northern barrier island.”
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari remarked that all of the Commissioners were in approval to get this done.
“As liaison to tourism and business development, it’s important we all work together. Tourism is a cornerstone of our economy. In addition, beach replenishment also protects the properties of our year-round residents and businesses,” Vicari added.
While Point Pleasant Borough has no oceanfront property and is not part of the replenishment effort, borough leaders have been supportive of the project in order to assist their neighboring communities.