MARGATE — Instead of filing for a temporary injunction to delay dune-building until after the summer season, the city should concentrate on documenting dune progress and potential drainage issues, the city’s attorney said.
At a meeting July 6, Commissioner Maury Blumberg suggested the city consider filing for a temporary injunction to delay the dunes project until fall, but city solicitor John Scott Abbott said he believes the city’s chance of convincing a judge to stop the project or move it to another Downbeach community is zero.
Instead, Abbott said, the city should put its resources into documenting the progress of the dunes project regarding drainage issues officials think will develop between the dune and bulkhead after heavy rainfalls.
“I think down the line, we may be going back to court,” Abbott said during a work meeting Thursday. “We should be prepping ourselves to deal with this drainage problem. We are hoping it won’t be, but it could be. They (the Army Corps of Engineers) represented in court that this percolation system was going to work. Talk to any local, and you know that’s highly unlikely,” he said.
After city officials said storm water would collect between the dune and the bulkhead, Army Corps engineers said the sand would be soft enough to allow rainwater to percolate within 24 hours.
Abbott said the city should be tracking the amount of time it takes for water to seep into the sand following storms. He suggested hiring a drone company to take videos and aerial photographs that could later be used in court if necessary.
According to Commissioner John Amodeo, an informal conversation with an Army Corps engineer indicated the corps might be willing to pay to erect outfall pipes from the dune to the ocean in two locations over an eight-block area that constantly floods at a cost of about $1 million each.
“The city would be responsible totally for what’s on the street side of the bulkhead,” Amodeo said.
He said the Army Corps is aware of the drainage issues in that area and has 20 years of photographs showing how the city trenches the beach to allow storm water that collects on the beach near the bulkhead to flow into the ocean.
“They know it exists, and they are willing to help us,” Amodeo said.
The ideal time to do it would be now before the dune is built, although it is possible the work can be done after the dune is built.
If the Army Corps designs it, it must be done by federal standards and could take years to complete, Blumberg said.
City engineer Ed Walberg, of Remington, Vernick and Walberg, had prepared a preliminary design to install an outfall pipe system throughout the city, but it would be an expensive proposition, costing millions of dollars to complete.
Walberg’s citywide conceptual plan, which was reviewed by the Army Corps but deemed too costly, is a gravity flow system designed to alleviate drainage issues that could develop between the dunes and bulkhead. It includes installing underground pipes parallel with the bulkheads from one end of the city to the other. The pipes would connect to five outfall pipes to allow storm water to flow into the ocean. Walberg estimated the cost of the system to be around $9 million.
“We have to decide if we want them to do it,” Amodeo said.
If the outfall pipes are not installed, the city will have to bulldoze through the dune to allow the water to flow into the ocean, Blumberg said.
“We have been solving that problem for 50 years,” Blumberg said.
Mayor Michael Becker expressed some concern that if the Army Corps uses the city’s design, problems could arise if it doesn’t solve the problem.
“I don’t want them coming back next year saying ‘you designed it and it didn’t work,’” he said.
Abbott said the discussions with Army Corps’ engineers are unofficial.
“All this is talk right now. We need to get it in writing,” Abbott said.
“I don’t think it should be eight blocks. It should be the entire city,” Blumberg said.
City officials had a lengthy meeting with Army Corps officials on Monday, but “opinions are still up in the air,” Amodeo said Monday afternoon.
“This is an ongoing, compromising affair. Both sides need to cooperate, which we are doing,” he said.
Amodeo said he hopes to obtain a firm commitment from the Army Corps within a few weeks.