MARGATE — Residents and beachgoers gathered beside stalled construction equipment Sunday to voice their opposition to a federal judge’s ruling allowing dune construction to resume.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb granted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to continue work on the dunes. The decision overruled Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez’s order to temporarily stop the project in the city.
Rain early last week left a reported 4 to 6 inches of standing water between the bulkhead and the dunes. The same problem occurred the week before, prompting city officials to meet with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Following Bumb’s decision, Mendez ordered the DEP and Margate to work together on a solution.
“We have more than an issue of just drainage,” said former Margate Mayor Vaughan Reale, co-executive director of the Margate Citizens Question the Beach Project group. “We have an issue of swimmer safety, we have an issue of handicap access, we have an issue of policing and maintenance, so there’s multiple issues.”
With signs condemning the actions of Bumb and the Army Corps, the crowd joined in chants of “we were right” and “tear them down,” while residents described their struggle with the dune project.
“I have a mother, who currently cannot … she will never be able to cross this,” said Margate resident Jill Boughrum, pointing to the elevated pathway over the dunes. “We can’t get her up this mountain to a tiny ramp with a pipe running through it. They have ruined our beaches. I hope it stops right here.”
Dan Gottlieb, executive director of the citizens’ group, said handicapped-accessible entrances to Margate beaches have been reduced from 20 to four due to the built-up dunes.
“We’d like to see the quality of life, as it is linked to the beaches, improved,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb told the crowd he has talked with city officials and believes the city intends to file an appeal to Bumb’s decision Wednesday.