In Brick, The High Stakes of Dune Reconstruction
Mayor: failure to rebuild dunes puts mainland at risk
Had there not been a massive breach in Mantoloking during Superstorm Sandy, there is a good chance mainland neighborhoods across the bay would not have seen flooding to the levels they did.
With that in mind, part of the focus of township officials in the continuing post-Sandy recovery is shoring up Brick's ocean dunes in order to protect both barrier island and mainland homeowners.
In Toms River, a debate is emerging over private beach associations signing permanent easements which would permit the renourishment work to commence on once-private property.
So far, Toms River officials have been unsuccessful in convincing the associations to allow access to their beaches in order to restore the dune network, but in Brick, cooler heads seem to be prevailing.
"I personally don't think it will be too much of a problem in Brick," said Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis.
Business Administrator Scott Pezarras has been in touch with the owners and association representatives of private beaches, the mayor said, and indications are that the process is beginning to go well.
Brick also maintains three of its own public beaches complete with ammenities such as restrooms, showers and a snack stand, more than satisfying public access requirements under federal guidelines to receive beach replenishment funding.
Though access to some beaches is privately controlled in Brick, the public is not barred from physically walking on those beaches, pursuant to various court rulings.
"You can go to Brick Beach III and walk all the way up to Point Pleasant, if you want to," said Acropolis.
In the past, holdout homeowners in nearby Mantoloking Borough have often taken the blame for the northern barrier island failing to have its beaches and dunes renourished. But at a meeting Jan. 7, borough officials there urged homeowners to sign easements, informing residents that the easement would only be used for beach replenishment efforts - not the construction of a boardwalk or bathrooms outside one's front door.
But for those who may still refuse to sign the easements, Sandy may have raised the stakes, thanks to the Mantoloking breach that led to thousands of mainland residents' homes being flooded.
"If we had a homeowner or two homeowners who didn't want to sign it, we would sue them," said Acropolis. "We would tell them that they're putting our mainland residents at risk, and you'll be held responsible for damage to their houses. If you have a piece of property where you allow the ocean to break through and damage other people's houses, you should be sued for that."