NORTH WILDWOOD - There is a new annual tradition in North Wildwood.
In a months-long offseason parade, huge trucks drive sand north, after harvesting it from the wide beaches of Wildwood, where it is stockpiled and eventually spread at the island’s north end.
The project is designed to try to provide usable beaches during the summer months at the north end of town, but, perhaps more importantly, to fortify the city from storm damage and flooding.
The fix is temporary, and all the hard work is seemingly erased year after year by the first storm of fall. However, due to a complex issue that the city is involved in litigating, sand from Hereford Inlet cannot be used in a beach replenishment project.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project would pump sand north from the beaches of Wildwood to replenish the North Wildwood beach and create a dune for the entire island, but that has long been delayed.
According to North Wildwood City Administrator Ron Simone, “I can’t comment on what an actual, realistic timeline is for the project because they do have to procure a lot of real estate easements because there are a lot of sections of beach on Wildwood’s beach where private property owners have riparian rights up to the mean high-water line.”
Until then, North Wildwood is on its own, to the tune of more than $3 million per year, to try to dig and truck sand, in a process called back passing, to save its beaches.
A separate plan calls for the reconfiguration of a bulkhead and added sea wall in front of it as a form of settlement to address violations cited by the state Department of Environmental Protection. However, Simone said he isn’t sure that will happen this year, though, if it does, the back passing project can be adjusted to accommodate it.