LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — It’s no day at the beach for sunseekers trekking to the sand on five beaches in the township. Mayor Joseph Mancini said due to severe erosion over the past few weeks or so, five beach entrances have been closed.
Those entrances include: 75th Street and 83rd Street in the Beach Haven Crest section of the township, 53rd and 54th Streets in the Brant Beach section.
“We need a wind shift to get some sand off the bar. A northeast wind would help us,” Mancini said. “If we could drop 1,000 loads of sand on the beach, it would be gone the next day because of wind patterns.”
He added that no more sand will be dumped on the beaches this summer.
He said Public Works crews rebuild beach entrances every morning with bulldozers so the public can access them, but crews have to get the equipment off the beach by 9:30 a.m
“The first high tide that comes in clips the entrances out again. We’re doing everything we can to keep people from getting hurt. Our entire DPW is on the beach now fixing stuff and ignoring other things we do in the summertime,” he said.
But beachgoers are still unhappy about the conditions of the strand.
“We pay a lot of money to come here and rent and this what we get,” said Jim Neve whose family is renting an oceanfront home on 75th Street.
Yellow caution tape has been hung to cordone off the beach entrance that has eroded to a 20-foot drop, and a sign informs the public the entrance is closed due to beach erosion.
Carolyn Taylor, 34, of Rockland County, N.Y., climbed the entrance Sunday afternoon with her family, which lugged boogie boards, buckets and other beach supplies. Taylor said they ignored the barricade because everyone else did.
“We bring a lot of stuff to the beach, and it’s hard to walk a long way,” she said. “It’s a workout for your legs that’s for sure. I’m surprised. The town should do something about it.”
Similarly, Nick Romito, 49, of Lyndhurst, Bergen County, stays at his aunt’s 83rd Street home every summer. But since Memorial Day, Romito said he watched as the beach quickly eroded and the 83rd Street beach entrance transformed into a 15-foot drop.
“You got to get on the beach somehow. It’s difficult for me, but for the elderly and little kids? Forget about it,” said Romito who works as a fireman in Jersey City, Hudson County.
“The mayor needs to step up and do what he needs to do,” Romito said as his children scaled the cliff.
Romito’s wife, Elizabeth, said she spends most of her day making sure her children are safe coming and going from the beach.
“Someone is going to get hurt,” Elizabeth Romito said.
For Romito’s aunt, 73-year-old Kathleen Messano, going to the beach is now dangerous, she said.
“There’s no excuse for this. We’ve had a home here for 40 years, and it’s never looked like this,” she said.
Kenneth Porro — an attorney who represents oceanfront homeowners who have refused to sign their easements to give government access to their beaches for replenishment projects — was also spending the day at the beach on 83rd Street.
“Where are the tax dollars going? And where is the beach badge money going? There was never a problem here for 30 years and, with all due respect, it has to be the current administration that’s the problem. Why isn’t Mayor Mancini doing anything? Why isn’t he pushing up the sand?” Porro said Sunday.
Mancini said the township has been pushing sand on the beach every day since November. He added that over the past year, the township has experienced seven of the worst northeasters since the 1962 storm, and there was no funding to replace the sand.
“We lost $30 million worth of sand in November, and when FEMA came in they wouldn’t reimburse us because the beaches were not engineered and easements were not signed and we have Ken Porro and his clients to thank for not getting the money,” Mancini said.
In February, the Township Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that makes homeowners responsible for maintaining the dunes in front of their homes if they don’t sign easements. Some homeowners chose to sign, but the township is still without hundreds of easements necessary to complete a multimillion dollar beach replenishment project.
Mancini said the township has not issued any orders to make homeowners pay.
In March, following a series of winter storms, the township paid to have 175 truckloads of sand brought in and dumped on the beaches to build the shore back up in areas across the island. But in certain sections of the township the sand didn’t stay.
Carol O’Connor said she was excited to bring her brother and his wife to Long Beach Island for the first time. But when she saw the condition of the beach on 83rd Street she was disappointed.
“I told them how magnificent the beaches are here — and this is what they get to see. I don’t think anyone on this block should have to pay for a beach badge,” O’Connor said.
“We were holding onto each other as we came down to the beach, hoping we wouldn’t fall,” she said.
“The town needs to get to work on this. The local government can do better,” said O’Connor’s brother Jack Clowney, 61, of Winston-Salem, N.C.
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