A beach homeowners association and one resident will face condemnation proceedings to take slivers of privately owned sand that needs to be accessed so dunes can be built on Brick Township’s oceanfront, but having missed a deadline, the project to build dunes and replenish beaches on Ocean County’s northern barrier island will likely be pushed back until 2017.
What’s worse, Mayor John Ducey said, is that the funding for the project may be lost to another area where the project is “shovel-ready.”
Ducey said the state Department of Environmental Protection set a deadline of Feb. 12 for the easements to be signed. Since they were not, the state agency is readying for a protracted legal battle with holdouts and may even have to forfeit the $158 million in federal funding that was to be used for the project.
“Fire Island, [N.Y.] is shovel-ready,” Ducey said Tuesday night. “Our money may be spent up in New York. Whether it gets funded again is an unknown. That was the risk we were dealing with.”
Ducey excoriated a beach association covering a portion of the township’s barrier island section – the Deauville Beach association – for failing to sign the easements.
The association, “ironically, in the southernmost part of town where the wall is exposed the most,” did not sign said Ducey, adding that the threat of losing the project altogether and putting homes at risk of a dune breach “apparently didn’t sway anybody.”
The name of the remaining homeowner who is holding out was not stated publicly.
In addition to Brick Township, Toms River has 18 private association easements outstanding. For the length of the project, from Point Pleasant Beach to South Seaside Park, 189 property owners have refused to sign, most notably the owners of Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach and nearly all of Bay Head’s oceanfront homeowners.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect that the Normandy Beach Improvement Association did, in fact, sign an easement. According to Mayor John Ducey: “Normandy beach signed the easement in a timely fashion. The state received it and neglected to tell us or to give it to us to sign. The state is calling the association to apologize.”