With all of Brick’s oceanfront closed to public access due to dangerous conditions around the steel sea wall that spans the length of the town, there are no clear answers on how repairs to the beach will be funded.
Before last weekend’s nor’easter, there was about a six foot drop between the top of the wall and the sand below in the Normandy Beach section, and no noticeable drop at Brick’s three public beaches. The storm, however, created a 20 foot drop in some areas between the wall and the sand – but also created an eight foot deep gulf between beaches entrances and the landward side of the wall due to waves crashing over top of the revetment.
“The spray was going over, thereby causing a cliff to be established with another eight foot drop,” said Mayor John Ducey. “It’s very, very dangerous out there, just a sign of what the storm did.”
By Thursday, some of the sand on the seaward side of the wall had returned as the beach naturally widened, but the new drop on the landward side will need to be repaired before access can be restored. Whether Brick taxpayers will ultimately be responsible for restoring sand around the wall – a state project – remains to be seen.
Ducey said he is meeting with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection next week, but has not received word from the agency on any solid plans about sand restoration.
Shorebeat contacted the DEP about whether a plan for restoring the sand had been drawn up, but did not receive a response. In the past year, the DEP has not provided Brick with monetary aid to pay for sand restoration. Last year, Ducey said Brick built up berms allowing beach access and will likely so the same this year. For now, however, the beaches remain closed.
The sea wall was supposed to be effectively invisible, covered by 22 foot dunes and flanked by a more than 200 foot-wide beach berm on its seaward side. The federal beach replenishment project that would have provided those dunes has yet to get off the ground due to the refusal of property owners in several local communities – primarily Bay Head and Point Pleasant Beach – refusing to sign easements allowing the dune work to be completed on slivers of privately-owned oceanfront property. The state has filed about 30 eminent domain actions against property owners on Ocean County’s northern barrier island, including several in Brick.
Sand deliveries are often expensive. Toms River estimates that it will cost $1.7 million to deliver sand to create temporary berms in the Ortley Beach section as that town also awaits the replenishment project to begin. A nor’easter in October cost the town $800,000. The state has, in the past, provided some reimbursements for sand deliveries to Toms River.