TOMS RIVER – It seems we’re all subject to the whim of Mother Nature.
After a year stuck inside, when the pandemic shuttered shore tourism businesses, everyone was ready to enjoy summer and the unofficial start of that season: Memorial Day weekend.
Township Engineer Robert Chankalian said everything was set and ready. The beaches were done. The walkovers were done. The dunes were replenished.
Then, the huge storm struck and washed out a lot of people’s Memorial Day weekend plans. And it also washed away a great deal of beach.
There was a three-foot cliff where the beach just dropped away due to erosion, Chankalian said.
However, that time, money, and effort wasn’t a waste, he said. If this beach replenishment project hadn’t been done, the storm would’ve hit even harder.
The reason for the beach replenishment was a nor’easter in February that had carved dangerous drops out of the beach.
Earle Asphalt had been awarded a contract of almost half a million dollars to build up the beaches with Memorial Day weekend being the deadline, he said.
The township expects to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the cost.
They brought in thousands of cubic yards worth of sand, and spread it down to make it a beach. The work was expected to last until the next time the Army Corps of Engineers came to do a larger project.
Recently, the Army Corps had dredged sand from the bottom of the ocean, shuttled it through a tube, and deposited it on a number of beaches in Ocean County and beyond.
Streetscape Project Begins
In related news, the township began a streetscape improvement project along Route 35 North. The goal is to beautify the area, attract businesses, and grow the business district. There will be better lighting, pedestrian accessibility and bike racks. News stands, benches, and landscaping will give it a small town, walkable feel.
The project is still in the design phase, and officials are looking at the area from Colony Road to First Avenue.
“I’m excited this project has begun. It was important we involved the community in the process and receiving input from the Ortley Beach Voters and TaxPayers Association (OBVTA) was crucial. Once completed, it will be a great improvement for the area,” said Councilwoman Maria Maruca.
The Township received over $900,000 in Federal funding through the NJDOT’s Transportation Assistance Program (TAP) in 2016. The grant was part of the 2015 Ortley Beach Neighborhood Plan, funded with a Post Sandy Recovery Grant. There will be no cost to taxpayers.
“We are always looking for ways to support the Ortley Beach area and the business district. We are thankful to NJDOT’s TAP Program for enabling us to do that, recognizing the needs of a post Sandy recovery all with no impact to the taxpayers,” said Mayor Maurice Hill.
The project is expected to be complete by next spring. For more information, visit tomsrivertownship.com/483/Ortley-Beach-Streetscape-Project