A beach replenishment project is expected this spiring in North Wildwood. Officials inspected the area Third Avenue in January.

Dale Gerhard

NORTH WILDWOOD — Longtime residents know that the shape of the city’s coastline has changed, but securing funding for beach replenishment often requires more than anecdotal evidence.

That’s why North Wildwood and other beachfront communities have hired the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College, headed by Stewart Farrell, to monitor their shorelines.

North Wildwood, for instance, first hired the center in 2009 and is renewing a contract with the center this week for 2013.

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“It’s probably the best money the city of North Wildwood spends every year,” City Council President Patrick Rosenello said Monday. “It’s critical when we go for beach replenishment. They survey the beach and we have a profile before and after storms.”

The annual contract is not allowed to exceed $92,703. Of that amount, Rosenello said $62,000 is for fixed costs for regular surveys of the beach and quarterly aerial photography to track the shoreline as it changes. In addition, Farrell is available on a contingency basis to survey storm damage, discuss beach-replenishment plans and answer questions when the city has to talk with state or federal agencies.

Rosenello said the surveys track the beaches so the city can provide data to those agencies to support requests for beach replenishment.

“When I was growing up, there was no such thing as an inlet beach,” Rosenello said of the obvious changes to the local coast. “And the front beach was enormous with lines of dunes.”

In his 2011 report to the city, for instance, Farrell noted that the city had experienced “big losses” at the 2nd Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard intersection “at the oceanfront and inlet shoreline confluence.” The mid-section of the beach, meanwhile, gained sand and the south end loss some sand within the dune system.

Farrell was able to reach those conclusions based on monitoring at six different sites between June and December of that year.

His report also came with graphs that outlined the changing slope and distance of the shoreline.

In 2012, the city then pursued a sand back-passing operation, which moved about 100,000 cubic yards of sand from Wildwood Crest to North Wildwood. The project cost North Wildwood $724,800, and of that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed the city for 75 percent.

The city is also going out to bid for another beach-replenishment project set to take place this spring. The cost will also be split between the federal government and the city.

Farrell said the center monitors beaches for several other municipalities, including Avalon, Brigantine, Cape May Point, Mantoloking, Stone Harbor and Upper Township.

“We provide them with closer inspection to determine what’s happening before there’s a crisis,” Farrell said.

Rosenello said the tracking is key to determining what beach is lost and how to replenish it in time for summer, the resort’s crucial tourist season.

“I kind of look at beach replenishment as really a bridge between the natural cycles of the beach,” Rosenello said.

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