Spending between $150,000 and $200,000 to shore up the township's ocean dunes "every time it rains" cannot go on forever, officials said Tuesday.
But an Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project that has been characterized as a permanent fix for the threat of ocean breaches in Brick's barrier island section appears in flux, as a deadline to receive easements awaits.
"We're getting word from the Army Corps of Engineers that it's a year out, maybe longer, before they even come in to Bricktown," said Business Administration Scott Pezarras.
And that timeline, of course, is assuming all of the township's oceanfront property owners sign easements allowing the dune work to continue.
One thing is for sure, however: the current temporary fixes at the beachfront are not working. Since Superstorm Sandy destroyed the township's dunes, crews have been using heavy equipment to push sand berms into place to protect homes and guard against ocean breaches, which could cause catastrophic flooding on both sides of the bay, like the breach that occurred during Sandy in Mantoloking.
But each time there is a storm – even a small one – the temporary berms wash away, and they cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to rebuild each time.
"Every time it rains, it costs us $150,000 to $200,000," said Councilman Joseph Sangiovanni. "How many $150,000 to $200,000 incidents do we have to have before we put a permanent fix in there?"
A permanent fix may be a geotube, a type of revetment that usually consists of gravel and sand wrapped in ultra-strong geotextile fabric, forming a tube which is placed underneath a dune. The geotube acts similar to a seawall and protects the coastline from dune breaches.
The township council on Tuesday night voted, on second reading, in favor of setting aside $7.9 million in capital funds for a geotube that would run the length of the township's beachfront, which could be paired with a future dune replenishment project completed by the Army Corps, if such a project moves forward.
"If the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't come up with another game plan, I would certainly like to start sooner rather than later both in design and a timeline," said Pezarras. "We're going to have another hurricane season upon us and another nor'easter season upon us."
The cost of the geotube project would be reimbursed 75 percent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning the township would have to fund $1,975,000 of the project's costs through its capital budget.
Township officials said they may look into partnering with Mantoloking Borough on the project. Mantoloking officials have also announced their desire to build a geotube, though no contract has been awarded there and the borough is still waiting on its own round of easements which would allow the project to move forward.
"If we can partner up and save on the mobilization costs, that's what we want to do," said Pezarras, who explained that those initial costs are among the most expensive aspects of the project.
U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan's office has set a May 1 deadline for all easements to be signed by oceanfront homeowners. It was not clear how many of Brick's oceanfront owners have voluntarily signed the documents.