The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will go out to bid on a dune and beach replenishment project in about two weeks, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced at a press conference in Brick Tuesday.
The project itself will begin in March or April, he said, adding that any oceanfront properties whose owners have not signed easements will face condemnation within 60 days.
“We’ve had incredibly great cooperation from virtually all the towns and all the residents along the coast,” Martin said. “That said, we’ve had horrible cooperation from several towns and several residents.”
About 330 easements are still needed on the northern barrier island, with the borough of Bay Head representing the epicenter of easement resistance.
Martin said officials in Bay Head – long known for its restrictive beach access practices – have refused to cooperate with the state, and just one of 124 oceanfront homeowners have granted their easements voluntarily.
“We’ve made it crystal clear to the mayor of Bay Head … we’ve made it clear to the homeowners who are on the beachfront in Bay Head that we’d like their cooperation and we’d like to work with them,” Martin said. “If not, we will take the easements at the end of the day.”
In Brick, 44 easements remain; the township and state are currently in the process of condemning the would-be easement areas, which normally are small slivers of sand that are covered over by dunes.
The easements are required so work can be performed and the dune can be maintained over the course of the next 50 years.
Since a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 2013 striking a jury award of $375,000 for a Harvey Cedars couple whose easement was taken for a previous replenishment project, most condemnation awards have been a few hundred dollars or less.