NORTH WILDWOOD – For the eighth consecutive year, sand is being harvested from the wide beaches of Wildwood and transported by large haulers to North Wildwood, in a desperate attempt to save the city’s north end beaches.
Without an approved hydraulic dredge project and no federal or state funding for beach replenishment, Mayor Patrick Rosenello has long expressed frustration with the financial burden the city has been faced with due to large shore protection projects the city has had to undertake.
This year, 300,000 cubic yards of sand are in the process of be trucked north, stockpiled, and eventually spread, said City Administrator Ron Simone. Last year was North Wildwood’s largest backpass ever, with roughly 300,000 cubic yards. The prior six years were in the 150-200,000 range, Simone said.
Whether it will be enough to provide useable beaches on every block from Seventh Avenue north, Simone was non-committal.
“It’s really up to Mother Nature to see how much material we’re able to place and where it’s going to be placed,” Simone said.
A bulkhead between Fifth and Seventh avenues is also being moved, as part of a resolution with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Niel Yoskin, an attorney representing the city. Simone said it will happen as soon as possible and will not wait until fall.
Eventual plans call for a hydraulic dredge project to erect a dune for the entire island, but those plans have not yet come to fruition, and it seems there are more questions than answers.
Yoskin said executive orders signed by President Joe Biden put a moratorium on a controversial Trump administration ruling affecting the legality of using sand from Hereford Inlet for hydraulic dredging.
The Biden administration is reviewing the ruling, and the Audubon Society had already been suing over it, said Yoskin, who represents North Wildwood, as well as Avalon and Stone Harbor, in that lawsuit. He added that the Audubon Society litigation is on a 60-day hold until the White House decides its position.
This year’s backpass project will cost North Wildwood $2.9 million and is paid for out of the budget, not with borrowed money, which, Rosenello says, is an explanation for the tax increase.
“Most of our capital has been eaten up by our shore protection measures, whether it be the emergency bulkhead that was installed and erected or the sand backpass project,” said Simone.