Damaged piers and boat ramps left by Hurricane Sandy threatened to ruin summer fun in Somers Point, but City Council voted Thursday night to approve resolutions associated with construction and repairs.
The storm damaged some of the most-used family oriented facilities in the city, causing an estimated $1.3 million in damages, including erosion in JFK Park, said city Administrator Wes Swain at the meeting.
Damages include the handicap ramp at Ray’s Pier on Higbee Avenue, the boat ramp at JFK Park and the fishing pier at the municipal beach on New Jersey Avenue, City Engineer Greg Schnieder said.
The piers and boat ramp should be ready to open by the end of May, Councilman Howard Dill said.
The finance committee, which includes Councilmen Dill, Ralph Triobboletti and Thomas Smith, met Monday to determine the cost of damages and what repairs were in order.
The vote at Thursday night’s City Council meeting approved emergency appropriations to fund the repairs, moving ahead in the bidding process for construction, rather than waiting for input from FEMA or on insurance coverage.
“The reason for moving so quickly is that the engineers estimated lead time is four to five months. Therefore project completions would be in the area of early to late May,” Dill said.
“The reimbursement process is very long and it would take forever if we waited for it,” Schnieder said.
If the board waits for FEMA or insurance reimbursement, the recreational areas would be closed or partially closed during the summer, Dill said. A conservative 50 to 60 percent reimbursement is estimated by the finance committee, since most of the construction will mirror the original blueprints.
FEMA will likely reimburse the city for 75 percent of the total repair cost, if the construction mirrors the original blueprint, Swain said.
Hopefully, after insurance and FEMA’s reimbursement, the total burden on the city will be close to $300,000, he said. Swain explained that the balance would be paid over five years.
The most costly process is the erosion damage in the park, about $808,000 of the total damages, Swain said. About $1.2 million is the estimate for the construction, and the remainder is for debris removal.
Council President Sean McGuigan said the city anticipates salvaging the piling at New Jersey Avenue, to help reduce to the cost.
The only change to the blueprints, Schnieder said, would be for the JFK Park bluff, which will have added gabion protection. The project was slated for 2013 anyway, he said and was already in the early stages of the permitting process. The storm came and sped up the process.
He added that the gabions, basically stone-filled baskets tied and drilled into the bluff, proved successful against the storm in West Atlantic City.
"For a small increase, you are improving the park and ensuring this doesn't happen again," Schnieder said, adding the state Department of Environmental Protection recommends the addition.
Two resolutions to authorize the start of the bidding process for the added gabion and the pier repairs were sponsored by all three committee members and approved Thursday.
Contact Anjalee Khemlani:
Follow Anjalee Khemlani on Twitter @AnjKhem