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Monday, May 20, 2024

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Residents Call for Replenishment of Northern Beaches

Stone Harbor Logo
Stone Harbor Logo

By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – For the first time since 2017, Stone Harbor will benefit from a federally sponsored hydraulic beach replenishment. There are some residents of the borough who want to make sure they receive some of that benefit.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project will mine sand in Townsend’s Inlet and pump it much of the length of the island in order to deposit sand onto Stone Harbor’s eroded beaches. The federal goal in this periodic replenishment is protection of lives and property. One other major consequence is an extended dry beach that is critical to the economy of the borough and the county.
The Army Corps works from a detailed template established when the beaches were first engineered. The template defines the berm length and dune height all along the borough’s oceanfront. Based on survey data, the beach fill is then directed to the areas that are most in need of sand according to the template. Most of the sand is heading to the borough’s southernmost beaches.
Recent storm damage to the beaches has residents and property owners in the northern end of the borough saying they should not be forgotten. They want the survey to reflect current conditions. An agreement with the Army Corps has already extended the sand distribution to beaches along streets as far north as 90th Street.
At a Jan. 17 Stone Harbor Borough Council meeting, several residents used public comment to urge that beaches in the mid-80s streets not be ignored.
At the same meeting, these property owners heard the borough’s coastal engineer say that naturally occurring south-to-north wave motion in the summer will carry sand from the beach fill areas to the beaches that were not part of the replenishment. Those residents who spoke at the meeting were not willing to depend on tides to replenish their beaches.
The limiting factors in the distribution of sand are the amount of sand the project appropriation can afford and the requirement to distribute that sand according to template-defined areas of need. The degree to which the borough can get new adjustments to distribute sand north of 90th Street is not clear.
There are certainly some residents who do not want to be left out. One even reminded the council of the “hundreds of thousands we pay in taxes.”
Others took a different approach, arguing that the sand needs of their beaches are greater now than they were when the Army Corps did its survey.
Borough officials have said they will raise the issue in an upcoming meeting with the Army Corps.

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