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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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From No Beach to New Beach in Three Weeks

Christopher South
State Sen. Michael Testa, left, with North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello on a July 3 visit to see how the beach fill project turned out.

By Christopher South

Officials weigh in on completed North Wildwood replenishment project

NORTH WILDWOOD – “This is incredible,” State Sen. Michael Testa said upon viewing the beach from the headquarters of the Beach Patrol at 15th Street.

Testa was looking at the results of a beach replenishment effort that took just three weeks. The project began on June 5 and was completed on June 26.

Mayor Patrick Rosenello, who accompanied Testa on his visit Wednesday, July 3, said: “That was 21 days – it was 70 days from the time the governor authorized the project until the beach replenishment was complete.”

Rosenello said the project, which was completed under the direction of the state Department of Transportation, saw 750,000 cubic yards — about 2.2 billion pounds — of sand placed on the beach in those three weeks.

The mayor said it’s even more astonishing when one considers that the dredging companies pumped a slurry that was only 20% sand and 80% water onto the beaches. The water would run off and leave the sand behind.

North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello, left, and Beach Patrol Chief Bill Ciavarelli met with state Sen. Michael Testa to show off the newly replenished beaches. Photo Credit: Christopher South

He said the approximately $15 million project involved pumping sand from Hereford Inlet onto the city’s beaches, adding about 250 feet of beach where nearly none existed just before.

Testa, a former North Wildwood lifeguard, said nothing made him happier than to see the beach wide enough to have a back-beach area where Beach Patrol and other emergency vehicles had enough room to travel without posing a danger to the public.

The severely storm-eroded beaches had caused the city to enact a ban on tents, cabanas and canopies that were larger than 8 feet in diameter. On Tuesday, July 2, the City Council repealed the restriction as a result of the beach fill project’s completion, saying, “Tents or similar shade structures that are 10-feet-by-10-feet or smaller are now permitted on the North Wildwood beaches.”

The resolution said any structures larger than 10-by-10 are still prohibited.

Rosenello said the replenishment project is an example of how important beaches are to the Jersey Shore, overall.

“We saw what it looked like without beach replenishment,” he said. “The state would go bankrupt without beaches. Beach replenishment is an insurance policy. In this economy it made perfect sense.”

Gov. Phil Murphy visited North Wildwood on June 7, two days after the dredging began, to view the work. Testa said he had Murphy’s ear on a previous visit to the Wildwoods to sign a $100 million bill for boardwalk restoration. At the time, Testa told the governor it was nice to have a boardwalk, but added, “What good is a boardwalk without beaches?”

Beach Patrol Chief Bill Ciavarelli was happy to see the beaches extended and said, “I think June (26) was the official start of summer.”

Ciavarelli said he has a full contingent of lifeguards, including 14 rookies. He said he is particularly pleased to have a full crew since he was hearing from people who weren’t applying because they thought North Wildwood would not have a beach to guard this summer.

The beach replenishment allowed North Wildwood to lift its ban on tents, cabanas and other such structures over 8 feet in diameter. All structures must still be less than 10 feet wide. Photo Credit: Christopher South

Rosenello thanked the governor and the DOT for their cooperation with the city in getting the replenishment done. He noted that the work was not part of a larger project being done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

That plan includes a berm and dune system along the oceanfront in North Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and Lower Township. The total project length is approximately 25,000 linear feet, with a berm of varying widths at elevation 6.5 feet NAVD88 and a dune with crest elevation at 16 feet NAVD88 along the entire length of the project. NAVD88 refers to a standard of measurement of elevation.

The project would be accomplished by trucking sand from areas along the project site in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest that have an excess accumulation. The project team, composed of Army Corps and DEP members, is finalizing designs, obtaining the necessary real estate easements and completing required peer reviews for quality and technical accuracy.

The Corps expects to solicit bids for construction in late spring 2025.

Contact the reporter, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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