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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."

patch January 14, 2013 at 02:21 PM
its called a barrier island for a reason,to protect the mainland!
Scott Pezarras January 14, 2013 at 02:24 PM
John I totally agree.
patch January 14, 2013 at 02:31 PM
scott,why was grandfathered in persons that had flood insurance,removed,when in earlier fema notices ,it was in black and white
tom deloy January 14, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Tom Then the people who own this property must be forced to allow the Mayors to enter and remedy at all location along the coast. They are Barrier and there for a reason did the people who built there not be told as you just told me to protect the mailland not to insure a private beach and spectacular View!!!
Anton Semprivivo January 14, 2013 at 03:25 PM
If the Dunes are so valuable to protect everyone on the Island and the mainland then the towns should fix them properly even if they are on private property and rights and properties of the citizens that live on the ocean or in private beach communities need to be respected in this process. This tragedy should not be used to steal rights away from anyone. Stop the wrangling, stop the stealing of rights and get the Dunes fixed for everyone on the island.
Scott Wright January 14, 2013 at 03:52 PM
It was Mantoloking that had the big breeches in the Dunes. The Brick portion of the island had few if any major breeches. The dune system had been well maintained by beachfront homeowners and various associations. There were state handouts of Dune grass every year that was planted. Many individuals and groups hired outside companies to help push up sand certain years and rebuild dunes after Nor Easters and storms.
Daniel Nee (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Anton, while many of us may agree, there are a couple wrinkles in that: A) The law does not allow government to access private property forcefully except through the eminent domain process (or an easement - effectively, permission - granted by the property owner). B) The eminent domain solution, thanks to the Harvey Cedars case, carries financial risk: http://barnegat-manahawkin.patch.com/articles/sandy-doesn-t-change-attitudes-about-dune-lawsuit-attorney-says
patch January 14, 2013 at 04:56 PM
we had normal high water,not over bulkhead until breach at mantoloking bridge,than 3ft in garage and 8 inches in home!
lifelonginbrick January 14, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I agree. For too long and through too many storms has an individual right to a "ocean view" taken priority over their neighbors saftey and property. This won't be the last severe storm we see. It's time that people buying the McMansions on the beach need to readjust their expectations on the value (and their "right") to a view.
jack cee January 14, 2013 at 06:10 PM
If you go look at the brick parts of island you will see a new dune.These peope have done one heck of a job as far as I'm concerned.Areas on the island were there was small dunes or none got slaughtered by sandy.I'm one house from the ocean and we had a huge dune that protected our homes.The homes at ground level had little or no water...
MEB January 14, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I was in Baywood during the storm. In the 54 years the residence never, ever had water reach its doors. Yes, water crested the dock and flooded some portions of the street but never in front of this building which existed on the highest elevated portion of the street. Around 10:30 pm Monday night the waters reached those levels. A little more than an hour later the water was at the front door from Reedy Creek overflow and back door from the lagoon. Apparently this very speedy rise in water level occurred when the ocean breached into the bay and then inland. A domino effect! We were evacuated out by boat and backhoe equipment in the early am. Of course, dunes to PROTECT takes precedence over a VIEW! There must be some sort of "eminent domain" law to support this and if there isn't, perhaps it is time there is.
Carolyn Kowalski January 14, 2013 at 07:48 PM
MEB, In our community it has never flooded in over 30 years. But with the breach at Mantaloking I sustained about a foot of water throughout my house when the Kettle Creek ran over. Now is the time to stop any rebuilding and build up those dunes. Last week I viewed the steel wall on my ride over to Rt.35 . With all the damage from Sandy I wish the wall was higher and longer to save the mainland. Maybe if the " I need my ocean view" homeowners were held liable for loss of property throughout the town, held liable for the businesses lost, police, EMS overtime, electrical company repair bills maybe then they will think differently. C.K.
WMS826 January 14, 2013 at 08:42 PM
The judge from the Harvey Cedars case should be relegated to hearing dog license cases in a broom closet then not reappointed. Look at the spinoff and collateral damage caused by such a horrible decision. How much mor;;e money will this now cost government and the people .
Art Sholty January 14, 2013 at 10:34 PM
After all the bad mouthing the public has given Mayor Steve Acropolis for various reasons, now citizens want him to act like a saviour. Problem is that Steve is working his butt off and those big mouths don't even realize it. Try asking him to help and see if he gives you an answer that you can take to the bank. I know and have faith in Steve Acropolis, do you? Ask and it shall be given, knock And the door will open. Try doing things the correct way for once.
KC January 15, 2013 at 05:35 AM
I think back ironically, how during summer of 2012 I stopped going to Mantaloking Beach because it was simply not being maintained. It was dirty, the sand was never raked and dog feces were rampant. A view of what??
KC January 15, 2013 at 05:37 AM
Agreed!
Tom Cular January 15, 2013 at 08:17 AM
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've made a living for years through beach replentishnent projects, from the Carolinas through NJ. I still don't believe that taxpayer money should be spent to enhance a so called PRIVATE BEACH. Let the towns, beach clubs and private owners dig into their pockets.
Christina Weaver January 15, 2013 at 04:55 PM
John I share your sentiments. I'd love to advocate but am not certain of the most effective route to follow.
Missing Brick January 15, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Patch: I had the same thing and the home has existed for 33 years previously with nary a flood my neighbors have told me. I wonder about the wisdom of rebuilding now with the new FEMA laws making flood insurance impossible to obtain. I'm predicting a lot of changes in my neighborhood. How anyone on the barrier island could hold out on one possible prevention is unfathomable to me.
Anton Semprivivo January 16, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Everyone seems to agree that the Dunes need to be fixed. The area of concern is that the associations and private land owners do not want to give up their property rights in the process. These people have paid for property that has been significantly diminished by the hurricane and if they give up land rights it will further diminish their value and their way of life. These people's rights should be protected during this re-building process and the government should figure out how to work with them to fix the dunes without asking for changes in their rights. Think about it.....the people that live closest to the ocean paid very dearly in this storm and took the brunt of the hit for many of us, they pay some of the highest taxes in Brick, they do not get anywhere near the most service even though they pay the most, of course they want the Dunes fixed they just want to get them fixed with their tax dollars, the federal relief money and without giving up their rights as property owners in the great state of New Jersey.
Barbara Pearson January 17, 2013 at 01:59 PM
If they had allowed beach and dune replenishment previously they might still have their homes. This shouldn't even be a debate. People cannot choose to place their neighbor, their community at risk. If the entire barrier island is replenished with the exception of a few communities it places those communities and THEIR NEIGHBORING communities in harms way AND the people who live across the bay. It's unacceptable.
Anton Semprivivo January 18, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Hey Barbara, Most areas of the Barrier Island had very good dunes and were very well maintained by the beach associations, private owners and the towns. There were some areas that the dunes could have been maintained better, but very few. Unfortunately the strength of this storm not only eradicated ALL the dunes both big and small but carved the ocean front sand away more than 6 feet under what was ground level. There is no sand dune that could have survived this storm, no matter how well maintained. The areas with less damage had sea walls and good dunes, however once again even a good seawall was not eneough to avert the damage from this storm. It is an unfortunate misnomer that better dunes would have saved more homes on the Ocean, the bay and the bay side of the mainland. Keep in mind the bay flooded as well and came up over the bulkheads and met the ocean, especially in the very "thin" piece of the island north of Brick in Mantoloking. Please understand that everyone wants the dunes to be fixed for everyone on the island but not at the cost of giving up your property rights. The solution is simple have private residents, beach associations and the government work together to get the dunes fixed properly without trying to take rights away from the citizens of the great state of New Jersey.
victor recchia January 18, 2013 at 08:48 AM
I take umbrage at Governor Christie's comment that ocean front property owners are selfish. This is ridiculous and it isn't about views either. We pay disproportional property taxes while most of us cannot vote. We worked hard for this property and the government has given us nothing. The easement is nothing more than a land grab by the government. There is no reason that the dunes cannot be built on public land. Toms River presented us with a very unprofessional easement document which is a joke. They expected us to execute an easement agreement with no delineation of the easement area, without telling us exactly what could and could not be done by the government on the easement. If we were to execute this document our whole complex could be an easement. A boardwalk could be built on our land. We will not give the government carte blanche on our land. If we are presented with a reasonable and focused easement document we will give it consideration. Governor Christie should concentrate his efforts on this instead of grandstanding!
Betty Ann January 19, 2013 at 12:29 AM
I agree, as well
FM Boccella February 04, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Amen to Victor and Anton's comments. Our home is on the ocean in Mantoloking; We did have very good dunes in front of our property, and our 60 plus year old home was saved. Everyone seems to be griping with the homeowners on the barrier island. We are the ones paying extremely high taxes on our homes that are not worth much at all. Yes, it's always the land. However, we have no services at all; we have no voting privilegses. I believe that is called Taxation Without Representation. We are the personal ATM machine for Brick Township... especially their school system . It's time to redistribute the taxes fairly to all the people of Brick Township and not kill the barrier island people with huge taxes. I would welcome the opportunity to secede to Lavalette or Mantoloking borough. I think the people of the barrier island who are suffering from these high taxes should ban together and send a clear message to Brick Township.
patch February 04, 2013 at 05:12 PM
rumor has it army corp. wants to build18-24ft dune from sandy hookto cape may,lets see who puts up a fight!
Missing Brick February 04, 2013 at 05:27 PM
We need the new dunes. The solution is NOT to raise thousands of homes... If the government is claiming private land, it surely should NOT be for a boardwalk or anything else but dunes. Protecting comes first, and it is protecting those property owners too. If they say the want to "risk it," well we tried that approach and now I and thousands of others are trying to get insurance companies to pay up to repair our homes. Surely we can not let it happen twice, whomever must sacrifice including myself. I'm sure we will all lose something, but we will gain security in knowing our homes are safe. That is priceless.
patch February 04, 2013 at 06:17 PM
agreed!christie put a nail in our coffin,are they going to raise the firehouse in seaside he spoke from? gas stations? bamboo,karma,hemingways? remember to go to town meetings,because state does not dictate building codes!!!!!!!!!
Anton Semprivivo February 05, 2013 at 02:57 AM
There are many like minded people on the seceding topic.....The way foreward on that is a tall task but it is possible. The amount of taxes we pay is astronomical and absolutley unfair. Seceding is a possible solution but we would all need to join together...Note...from my estimation our taxes maybe cut by 75%.
Anton Semprivivo February 05, 2013 at 03:06 AM
As long as the science of the nesessity of the size of the dunes makes sense and the land rights are proteced by the goverenment I think everyone will be on board. However, if the size of the dunes are overzealous and there are over reaching easements involved, the outlook to include eveyone on our rebuilding plans get's dimmer. From what I am hearing the Governor wants to protect everyone's land rights and will only ask for limited easements for rebuilding and maintaining dunes. The system and plan needs to take eveything into account and should not build overly high dunes without there being strong data on the protection they will afford.

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