Beaches will be ready for vacationers on Memorial Day weekend, say mayors in Longport and Margate, where contractors are making final touches on dune and drainage projects.

All will be open except for a 400-foot stretch at Nassau Avenue in Margate, where a new outfall pipe still needs some work.

A successful summer is especially important in Margate, after it endured Absecon Island dune construction and later the pooling water on its beaches last year. Many merchants said beach conditions hurt businesses, but the summer was also an especially wet one.

The Army Corps of Engineers built new dunes and beaches in Longport and finished about half of a drainage project in Margate to eliminate standing water between the bulkheads and dunes.

Pumps will continue to handle any standing water until the drainage project is done.

The beach-replenishment and rebuilding project for Absecon Island cost $63 million, with $19 million added for extra drainage work in Margate. The federal government paid for 100 percent of the work in Margate and Longport.

“I was pro-dune, but I feel sorry for the people with waterfront houses,” said Millie Walker, of Hammonton, who has a summer home in Margate and was on the beach Tuesday with granddaughters Emerson, 3, and Elliot, 2. “They definitely have diminished views.”

Her husband, Rick, said the beaches are bigger now, which is a good thing. But he understands why older people and the disabled don’t like the longer walk over the dunes.

“And that is ugly,” he said of the new outfall pipe at Nassau Avenue that juts into the ocean like a mini jetty on raised wooden structures. “But it’s still a gorgeous beach.”

Army Corps spokesman Ed Voigt said the section of beach at Nassau Avenue will be off limits to the public until a little past Memorial Day, as the corps finishes the outfall pipe there.

“They are not an unusual sight,” Voigt said of the long pipes that stretch into the waves. “From Atlantic City to Cape May, there are about 60 outfall pipes.”

The ones in Margate are larger than most, at 48 inches in diameter, because the Corps wanted them to be able to drain a 100-year flood like the one that caused such problems last summer, Voigt said.

Many people in Margate never wanted the dune project. The city sued to try to stop it, saying its bulkheads were all it needed. But they gave up the suit in 2016.

A group of homeowners then sued to try to stop the project, arguing it would create a health hazard by allowing water to pool near the bulkheads. But the suit failed, and the dunes were built in 2017. Almost immediately, drainage problems appeared.

Margate’s streets from Atlantic Avenue to the east had traditionally drained through the bulkheads to trenches on the beach and then to the ocean. The new dunes stopped that.

So the Army Corps designed a system to drain each street through grates, under the bulkheads and into pipes under the beach.

There will be main outfall pipes at five streets, each of which will collect water from several streets, Margate Mayor Mike Becker said.

Outfall pipes have been installed at Vendome and Nassau avenues but still must be installed at Kenyon, Franklin and Douglas avenues.

Work will stop on the drainage system for the summer and resume in September, said Becker. Voigt said the finish date in the contract is April 2019.

In Longport, Mayor Nick Russo said there are still a couple pieces of equipment working on the beach, but the shorefront protection project is finished.

“They are still finishing up grading. But I’m sure it will be done by Memorial Day weekend,” Russo said. “All the piping has been removed that they used to get the sand here.”

Yearround resident Frank Davis was on the beach Tuesday with his dog, Sadie.

“They did a nice job, but I wish they left it as it was,” he said. “They should have taken care of the bay.”

Davis said the majority of flood claims in Longport after Sandy were related to losses along the bay.

The Army Corps is in the middle of a five-year study of how to address backbay flooding issues.

Farther down the beach, Nicole Neier, 19, of Long Valley in Morris County, relaxed with a group of friends.

“I like it,” Neier said of the new, larger beach at 36th Street. “I grew up coming to this beach.”

She said it’s a longer walk, but it’s easier now because paths have been built and lined with a material that makes walking on sand easier.

Russo said the community has supported the dune building in general.

“So far the feedback from residents is very positive with the final outcome. Initially there was resistance from some individuals,” Russo said. “Yes, it changes the landscape. But I think now people are realizing, with the severity of storms, there is nothing we are reading that indicates things will get better.”

He said he keeps reminding people dunes are nothing new.

“They were here in the 1870s, and we removed them with horses and wagons,” Russo said.

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

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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