AVALON - The federal hydraulic beach replenishment was set to begin, just as Avalon lost 100 feet of beachfront to Tropical Storm Melissa. The unexpectedly strong storm eroded much of the north-end beachfront. The rocks at the 13th Street beach were exposed, as that portion of beach was lost.
The three-year federal beach replenishment project was expected to begin pumping sand as soon as Oct. 19, with the borough scheduled to receive between 600,000 and 675,000 cubic yards of sand in the target area between 9th and 20th streets. The beach fill could continue south, as far as 22nd Street, but beaches south of that mark will depend on the natural movement of sand from north to south.
At the Avalon Borough Council meeting Oct. 16, Business Administrator Scott Wahl said the bid for mobilization for the replenishment would be $3.6 million, with sand priced at $6.50 per cubic yard. The price for sand borrowed from Townsend's Inlet is significantly lower than what the borough has paid in past beach fills, Wahl said.
Rather than have any of the federal funds used for the crossovers, Avalon had elected to handle it with its Public Works Department, leaving the funding in place for maximum sand replenishment.
The formula for expense sharing is the same as in the past, with the federal dollars covering 65% of the total cost, leaving 35% for non-federal contributions. New Jersey traditionally covers 75% of the remaining cost, leaving the borough with the other 25%.
The base level of sand for the project is 425,000 cubic yards, with options to be exercised at various levels making up the expected total.
Council President Nancy Hudanich said the pricing presented an “unusual opportunity” for the borough to receive a significant beach fill for under $1 million. Council approved an emergency appropriation for $900,000, and introduced the necessary bond ordinance.
Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company were expected to move the dredge Illinois from Cape May to Avalon to begin the fill at 9th Street; 1,000 feet of pipe was anticipated to continue the project southward.
Wahl also gave an update on the efforts underway to reverse the U.S. Fish and Wildlife interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA), which has effectively banned the borrowing of sand from Hereford Inlet. Avalon has partnered with Stone Harbor and North Wildwood in the fight against the ban. The three municipalities have entered into a shared services agreement to hire a special counsel to litigate the issue, if necessary.
Representatives of the three towns were expected to be in Washington Oct. 21. With the help of U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd), the delegation was to meet with U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to press their case that the interpretation is wrong and damaging to the Jersey Shore communities. Bernhardt has the authority to overturn the Fish and Wildlife ruling.
Wahl said that Dr. Stewart Farrell, director of the Stockton University Coastal Research Center, planned to accompany the delegate to the meeting with Bernhardt. In an earlier presentation to council, Farrell called the Fish and Wildlife position “silly.”
Wahl pointed out that Fish and Wildlife have banned the use of non-emergency federal dollars to borrow sand from Hereford Inlet, but would allow it if state, borough or federal emergency dollars were used. “How can it be an environmental issue if the borrowing of sand solely depends on the source of the funds used," Wahl asked.
The decision by Fish and Wildlife has left neighboring Stone Harbor without a beach fill this cycle. Even if the decision is overturned by Bernhardt or through litigation, the next federally funded beach replenishment will not be before 2022.
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