Some towns left with hefty price tag to keep NJ beaches from shrinking
Towns along Barnegat Bay Island just received a bill in the mail for the next scheduled round of beach replenishment, and leaders say they're shocked at the cost.
Toms River and Bay Head are on the hook for a combined $3 million bill to be paid before the feds return this winter to dredge offshore and build back the beaches
The simple answer is they can't cover the cost, not without state help. In Bay Head, homeowners paid for their own sea wall and protection before the federal government came in with their equipment a few years ago.
The new dunes paid for with federal tax dollars lasted until the first major test - a storm that turned them into 18-foot cliffs. Similar erosion impacts have been seen in other replenishment areas such as Brick and Ortley Beach. Towns received bills last week showing what they now owe for the replenishment touch-ups.
"A little town like this that has less than a $6 million budget total will go broke. We can't do it,” says Bay Head Mayor Bill Curtis.
Every municipality with oceanfront land received an estimated bill. The top four were Toms River, Bay Head, Mantoloking and Brick Township
“There's no way you can plan for this and the budget - $2 million is a substantial cost to absorb for the taxpayers, and our feeling is the beach is enjoyed by everybody in New Jersey, that's the gem of New Jersey, the Jersey Shore beaches,” says Toms River Township Mayor Mo Hill.
Toms River already spent $750,000 of its own money in the last year trucking in sand to Ortley Beach following storms. Hill, Curtis and the others all sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy asking the state to cover these costs. There has been no response yet from the governor or his aides.
The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to return early next year to the problem areas, rebuilding the beaches and dunes lost over the last four years. Curtis says he hopes no hurricanes impact the region because these costs are only an estimate and could go higher.