SEA ISLE CITY — The resort’s beaches should grow by at least 200 feet, and those in the south end by double that, following a federally funded beach replenishment project later this year, City Business Administrator George Savastano reported to City Council at Tuesday morning’s meeting.
The project, which includes Ocean City from 34th Street south through Strathmere in Upper Township and into Sea Isle City, calls for 4.2 million cubic yards of sand to be placed on the strands, some of which showed serious signs of erosion before Sandy struck almost two years ago. Savastano said the bulk of the sand, 2.6 million cubic yards, was destined for Ludlam Island, the majority of which is in Sea Isle, and that 1.6 million cubic yards would be added to beaches in Ocean City’s south end.
Beaches, he said, should be 200 to 300 feet wider at high tide and, at the far south end of the island where erosion has been more severe, 300 to 400 feet wider. The project also calls for the building of dunes 5 feet above the height of the promenade that fronts the beach in the city’s downtown.
“Contrary to Margate, we welcome it,” said Councilman Jack Gibson, making reference to the Atlantic County town that is actively fighting the Army Corps of Engineers to be excluded from its coastal protection plan. Gibson said maintenance was the reason Sea Isle’s beaches weathered Sandy better than they did the March 1962 northeaster, which caused considerable damage.
“Protection, protection, protection,” Council President John Divney said.
“When sand hits Sea Isle depends on what the plan of the contractor is,” Savastano said, adding bids open Aug. 20 and a contract is expected to be awarded in November. “It may not begin in Sea Isle until January 2015.”
The city will create gravel pathways from the street ends over the dunes to the beaches, providing firmer footing for those traversing the shifting sands, Savastano said. The gravel will be 9 inches deep at pedestrian crossings and 12 inches deep at vehicular crossings, and will require maintenance in order to prevent it from spreading on the sand.
Savastano also reported that the city is $20,000 ahead of last year’s beach badge income, having collected $1.267 million by Aug. 4. That means the city has exceeded its anticipated budget amount of $1.25 million from beach tag sales.
Most of the 70-minute meeting was dominated by council’s protracted discussion on ways to streamline the process of opening a commercial establishment, with no firm resolution decided.
Several in the audience of about 20 citizens commented on traffic congestion on the island, with Councilman Bill Kehner saying he was “revolted, personally” by the attitude of bicyclists “who feel they can go wherever whenever, the wrong way down a one-way street, through stop signs, and ride through crosswalks” instead of dismounting and walking their bikes. Kehner advocated enforcing state law, which holds bicyclists answerable to the same rules as motor vehicle operators.
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