A coin flip may decide whether Sea Isle City or Avalon gets its upcoming beach replenishment first.
The neighboring municipalities joined together for a $10.4 million project to pump 1.2 million cubic yards of sand on beaches battered by erosion.
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock’s work is expected to start in May.
The beachfill could continue into early summer, particularly if bad weather causes delays, Sea Isle City Administrator George Savastano said.
“It may be determined by the flip of the coin. Obviously both towns want to go first,” Savastano said. “It seems like the only fair way to go.”
The municipality that goes first is in a better position because work likely will have finished by the time vacationers start showing up.
Several blocks of beaches will have to be closed where sand pumping takes place, officials said.
The municipalities left the decision on where to start to the dredging company, which indicated it could start in either Avalon or Sea Isle City, Savastano said.
Avalon Business Administrator Andrew Bednarek said if there is no decision from the company, the mayors would likely flip a coin to pick.
Last year, Sea Isle City and Avalon announced plans to partner for a beachfill that will pump sand from Townsends Inlet — which divides the two municipalities — to build up their beaches, which are vital for tourism and storm protection, officials said.
“We understand we have to get this done,” Savastano said. “It’s needed from a shore-protection standpoint. And when the dredging contractor starts, he has to keep working until he’s done. It’s a big deal, but we understand.”
Dredging is among the most efficient ways to pump large amounts of sand on beaches, but work is very expensive. Both municipalities are splitting the nearly $2 million cost of mobilizing the dredge. They are each paying slightly more than $7 per cubic yard of sand, Savastano said.
Sea Isle City beach project is larger and will involve 700,000 cubic yards of sand between 73rd and 94th streets in the southern end of the city. Avalon’s includes 500,000 cubic yards between Ninth and 26th streets in its northern end.
“The most important thing is we’re both getting it done before summer,” Avalon spokesman Scott Wahl said. “We saw what we went through this winter. Who knows what’s coming in the spring?”
Meanwhile, Sea Isle City had hoped to expand its project to include other areas, but there may not be enough available sand in Townsends Inlet’s “borrow area” — the delineated section of the ocean floor from which a dredge can remove sand under state and federal regulations, Savastano said.
“Once we get a little bit further along in the next 30 days, we can re-evaluate and see if there’s potential to extend,” Savastano said.
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