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Wildwood Crest Still Grappling With Problem of Leaking Back-Bay Bulkheads

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Once Ordinance 1412 goes into effect it will require 8-foot bulkheads on the bayfront as outlined in the ordinance.

By Christopher South

WILDWOOD CREST – The Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance Tuesday, Nov. 21, that requires all back-bay bulkheads, including those on private property, to have a height of 8 feet. The ordinance lays out regulations for repairing and maintaining private bulkheads in the borough, including the materials being used.

But the borough is still considering how to deal with flooding at street ends.

In October, the commissioners introduced a $4.5 million bond ordinance, with $3 million dedicated to rehabilitation and reconstruction of back-bay bulkheads and outfall lines.

Mayor Don Cabrera and municipal engineer Marc DeBlasio discussed the matter of water breaching bulkheads and flooding street ends, Nov. 21.

Cabrera referred to proposed work on street ends between Rambler Road and Cresse Avenue. The work, outlined in the bond ordinance, includes repairs to bulkheads with wooden facades.

The mayor said a contractor working with DeBlasio and Associates asked him to come out and look at the street end at Cardinal Avenue, where water was coming through the bulkhead. The location has the original wooden bulkhead, plus a concrete layer and a layer of plastic.

“There was water coming through the bulkhead,” Cabrera said.

The mayor said there was a need to make the bulkheads watertight so water would not pass through and lie in the street. He questioned whether the borough should repair something that will eventually fail or raise the bulkheads between 6 and 8 feet.

Six feet would match the bulkheads in the north end, Cabrera said. Bulkheads from Cardinal to Cresse avenues could be capped with another 2 feet of bulkhead. Eventually, all of the bulkheads in Wildwood Crest will have to meet the 8-foot requirement. In the event a bulkhead is newly constructed, replaced, reconstructed, renovated or repaired, or where there is a substantial improvement to the principal structure or the bulkhead, the 8-foot requirement applies.

But DeBlasio said dressing up the bulkheads, by refacing them, might not solve the problem. He said his office is considering how to waterproof the structures.

“The joints are not watertight,” he said.

DeBlasio said the fix seems to be to put a concrete cap against the back side of the bulkheads, sealing the joints, as has been done before.

“That design is very elaborate, and we’ve looked at a couple of different ways to modify that design,” he said.

The engineer said he believes sheeting should be put in and concrete poured in behind it, creating a structure with a structure behind it. He said the goal is to have all the marine bulkheads be watertight.

Each street end in Wildwood Crest is now going to get a valve, and the borough will be raising street ends as high as possible, working in cooperation with the adjacent property owners. DeBlasio said the borough would probably have to put out a notice to property owners and sit down with them and work out the details, as well as obtain the right to enter the property.

He said there are still some “moving pieces” to the plan, and the borough needs to determine how much more it wants to invest in the project.

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

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