After meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Toms River Township Mayor Thomas Kelaher said it was evident that if the proper dunes had been put in place years ago, Hurricane Sandy would have caused very little, if any, damage on the barrier island and mainland areas.
“Going back many years ago, oceanfront homeowners declined to sign the easements allowing the USACE to place sand on private property for the purpose of dune and beach replenishment,” Kelaher stated. “Now, after Hurricane Sandy, we see the destruction firsthand and are again pursuing those oceanfront property owners to sign the easements allowing the Engineers to build up our beachfront and permit their project to move forward.”
The USACE project calls for beach re-nourishment from Manasquan to the Barnegat Inlet. The plan includes a wider and longer beach, extending out to the size of a football field. Kelaher’s letter to oceanfront homeowner urge them to sign the easement and realize the value of the USACE project. He writes, “The time has long since passed when property owners can ignore the ongoing threat from storms, as the entire barrier island and mainland properties are at risk until this work is completed. Based on federal funding appropriated as part of the Superstorm Sandy recovery, we are in the unique position of being able to move this project forward if we are able to obtain the signed easement agreements.”
The Mayor continues to say, “The design of the project has long since been completed, and the only thing at this point standing in the way of the implementation of the project is the signed easement agreements, which are critical. On March 17, 2013, we were advised by Congressman Jon Runyan’s office that all easements must be in place by May 1, 2013, in order for the USACE to proceed.” In a press release, Congressman Runyan said, “We need to work together to ensure that the residents of shore towns sign their easements by May 1 to guarantee that this vital, potentially life and property saving project, is funded and constructed without delay."
Another key point in the letter to homeowners, Kelaher writes, “Let me be clear in stating that the sole reason for procuring the easements is to protect life and property on the barrier island. Without the USACE project being completed, all barrier island residents are at a constant risk for property damage and loss of life...Also, FEMA has advised that long-term flood insurance rates will actually be reduced once the enhanced dunes and beach area are in place. Further, the USACE will maintain the dune/beach areas every four years as necessary for the next 50 years, which offers long-term stability for properties impacted from storm events. As you can see, the benefits far outweigh any perceived detriments.”
The packet of information containing the easement information is also posted on the township web site at this link:
(Photo by Debbi Winogracki)
Mayor Thomas Kelaher meets with Brigadier General Mike Wehr from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the dunes and their plans for the beach replenishment program.