OCEAN CITY — The city is proposing a $3.2 million project to combat erosion and rebuild marsh on a wetlands island that provides protection from storm damage to some bayside blocks.

It would be funded with a $2 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and a $1.2 million city match, said ACT Engineers of Robbinsville Vice President Eric B. Rosina at a public meeting on the project Tuesday night at City Hall. The firm is a consultant on the project.

The project would enhance and restore more than 150 acres of tidal wetlands there, according to ACT. Shooting Island is part of the Cape May Wetlands Wildlife Management Area in Great Egg Harbor Bay.

Shooting Island, located off Tennessee Avenue, absorbs storm energy that would otherwise hit the bayside of the city for some blocks south --near the Ocean City Country Club.

Rosina could not say exactly how large the area of the city is that would benefit from preserving the island. And that bothered some in the audience. He said he would attempt to get that data to media representatives later Tuesday or early Wednesday.

“On behalf of Ocean City Flooding, I don’t feel we can support this plan,” said the group’s chairperson and founder Suzanne Hornick. The group is a subcommittee of the Fairness in Taxes group.

“There was not enough information. They were unable to give us information about who would benefit from this plan,” said Hornick, also a board member of Fairness in Taxes. “We don’t see how this plan is going to protect the island from flooding.”

She said it would be better to spend the money to do the project “on our island instead of on an uninhabited island on the bay that may or may not protect only several blocks.”

Shooting Island’s shoreline hasn’t been restored 1978, and the city is only allowed to restore its shoreline back to the 1978 lines, said ACT past president and founder Carol L. Beske. In some places the shoreline has receded 60 feet.

Rosina said the island has lost about 9 acres since 1978, but is just half of its size in 1930.

“The same thing is happening on many of these islands,” he said of the small tidal wetlands islands that pepper the bays along the New Jersey coast.

He said most of the winds in the area come from the northwest, according to publicly available data, so about 3,200 linear feet of that shore of the triangle-shaped island will be hardened with a stone sill built to the high water line, and covered by large rock from Pennsylvania.

The stone sill will protect the edge but allow storms to wash over and deposit silt back into the marsh system, he said.

Fairness in Taxes board member Donna Moore said she does not believe most winds hit Ocean City from the northwest. She said northeast and east winds are more common. The east shore of the island, also eroding from boat wake action, would not be protected under the plan.

The southwest side is also eroding, so about 1,900 linear feet of oyster castles — open concrete blocks that lock together to create walls to protect shorelines from water action — will be installed there.

“It will be habitat for shellfish to accumulate on,” said Rosina. “They will run in 75 foot lengths with breaks in between.

Hornick also said she was disappointed no elected city officials attended the public meeting to answer questions about where the city funding would come from, and why they felt it would be money well spent. The interim Business Administrator George Savastano and city spokesman Doug Bergen were there, but not introduced at the meeting.

Contact: 609-272-7219 MPost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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