Ocean views normally blocked by dunes are visible from the Atlantic City Boardwalk in front of Resorts Casino — for now.
Contractors have moved the mounds of sand on the Pennsylvania Avenue beach to prepare for the $35 million Margaritaville Land Shark Bar & Grill, a 16,000-square-foot complex being built over the Atlantic Ocean where Steeplechase Pier stood until a fire destroyed it in 1988.
The water is now visible from the Boardwalk there — a rarity in the resort since the dunes went up in 2004 to minimize damage to city buildings and infrastructure from storm surges.
“Eventually, they will have to rebuild the dunes,” Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said. “There’s been no approval to remove dunes in Atlantic City. … other than (temporarily) for whatever construction they may need to do. As you know, that’s been an issue.”
Ragonese referred to repeated calls for smaller dunes from some local officials and residents. They have said lowering the dunes would still protect development in the resort, but improve tourism by affording better visibility of the water.
The DEP commissioned a study in 2010 on possible outcomes from shrinking the dunes that is still ongoing through the Richard Stockton College Coastal Research Center in Galloway Township.
Ragonese deferred to the city on how the Margaritaville project would affect beach access.
City Engineer William England did not respond to calls seeking comment Monday.
But any beach closures should have a minimal effect on tourism if the project stays on schedule and wraps up before next Memorial Day as planned.
That was not the case for jetty reconstruction ongoing northeast of Resorts. For most of the past year, the $8.4 million Atlantic City North End Shore Protection project took over most of the beach between Vermont and Massachusetts avenues. The point was to make jetties at those streets longer and stronger — and, therefore, better at preventing erosion.
The overhauled Massachusetts Avenue jetty is expected to be finished by Nov. 15; its counterpart at Vermont, in early January, Ragonese said Monday.
DEP officials provided access to portions of that area during the part of summer so that some beach time could be enjoyed by guests of Revel during the $2.4 billion casino’s first few months of operation.
“We tried our best to help the new business in town, but at the same time, they were well aware and made very clear we did not stop the jetty project to ensure their beach and all beaches in the area would remain viable,” Ragonese said.
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