VENTNOR, N.J. (WTXF/AP) - Officials in a South Jersey shore town say their beaches are not open to sand replenishment during the summer. They held a news conference at noon Thursday to explain the situation. (See video from the city. Lasts 20 minutes.)
Tuesday, the city posted a message about the dune replenishment project on its Facebook page: "The City learned today, May 2, 2017, that the schedule, starting point and direction of the dune replenishment project has changed. The project will now begin in Atlantic City and continue south, potentially impacting Ventnor from June 8 to July 12.
"We are disappointed in this unfortunate timing as it is during the height of our summer season. We will continue to update you as the project nears."
But Wednesday afternoon, Ventnor City Commissioner Lance Landgraf posted a strongly-worded letter there (see below), blaming "far-flung bureaucrats" for scheduling beach replenishment and dune work "squarely at the height of summer tourism season." Citing concerts and Independence Day celebrations planned, Landgraf said the city's beaches are simply unavailable for work.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, "The $63 million project calls for periodic replenishment of beaches and dunes for Atlantic City and Ventnor that were already designed to meet USACE engineering standards. It also calls for construction of beaches and dunes for Margate and Longport that meet USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) standards."
Also, "To minimize impacts to tourists and residents, work will progress in 1,000-foot segments. Only those sections of beach where work is occurring will be closed."
As for payment, "The periodic nourishment of the Atlantic City and Ventnor portion of the contract is cost-shared, with the federal government paying 65 percent of the project and the DEP paying 35 percent."
A spokesman for the DEP says they cannot delay the project due to the fall hurricane season. He says the timing was affected by other work being done by the contractor.
The $63 million project will reduce damage to 8.1 miles of beachfront. In Ventnor, the project will raise dunes to 13 feet and create a 100-foot-wide wall.
City Commissioner Lance Landgraf's letter:
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection unilaterally informed Ventnor this week that it is altering its beach replenishment schedule. Once again, far-flung bureaucrats are placing the disruptive work from June 8 to July 12 and likely beyond - squarely at the height of summer tourism season.
Unfortunately, the city, its business and our residents have made other plans at this time and our beaches are unavailable for the dune and replenishment work. Our city has multiple concerts, a surf camp, Independence Day celebrations and thousands of visitors coming to town for their hard-earned summer vacations. We hope the state understands that this revised timing simply doesn't work for Ventnor.
Ventnor has enthusiastically supported the state and the Corps dune and replenishment work from day one - and we will continue to do so if they adhere to their original timeline. It is important work, but so is the summer tourism season. We simply cannot allow one to jeopardize the other.
Today, we are notifying the state and the Army Corps of Engineers that our beaches will not be available for the replenishment and dune work until after Labor Day, which is when they had previously said the work would be performed.