Dredging and replenishment of the North Wildwood beach begins this week

Erosion from storms has shrunk the beach on Seventh Avenue in North Wildwood to a scrawny version of its former self at high tide.

The dune, once 70 feet wide, was destroyed.

Starting this week, the state of New Jersey will begin strengthening a stretch of beach and other areas in North Wildwood as part of a highly anticipated taxpayer-funded emergency resupply project for the resort community.

“We’ve been coming to the beach for years and we’ve watched it go from bigger to smaller,” Jim Brown of Clifton Heights said Monday as he walked along the boardwalk in front of the beach with Jen Wark. “It was quite significant. If the tide is out, you sit on top of each other.

It couldn’t come soon enough for Mayor Patrick Rosenello and state officials, who have been at odds since 2022 over how and when to get started on the work.

The work begins

Last week, crews began moving equipment, including a half-mile-long pipe that will draw wet sand from the ocean floor and carry it to the beach.

Dredgers were en route Monday and are expected to begin pumping sand within the next few days as part of a project managed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Office of Marine Resources. The work is being performed by H&L Contracting and Great Lakes Dredge & Dock.

So far, New Jersey has contributed $10 million to the project. Crews will spread hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sand on the beaches, and the work is expected to be completed by July 4. Sections of the beach approximately 300 meters long will be closed at a time. Once completed, they will be reopened to beachgoers.

Contractors will start this week by pumping sand onto the Seventh Avenue beach, then head north to the Second Avenue Pier and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Once this section is completed, contractors will return to Seventh Avenue and continue dredging south.

On Monday, the state reported that “the dredge has been water tested and is being prepared to travel via the Intracoastal Waterway from Atlantic City to Hereford Inlet in North Wildwood. The dredger should be on site late tomorrow evening (Tuesday) and dredging is expected to begin on Wednesday.”

The dispute led to deepening

North Wildwood officials and the state agreed to the emergency dredging project in April. The transaction is the result of a dispute between the resort and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which began in the summer of 2022.

During this time, the North Wildwood beaches were severely damaged by a series of storms. So the city began leveling and erecting the barriers itself when the DEP stepped in to stop the work, claiming that the methods the city planned to utilize would only worsen the erosion.

State officials wanted the community to wait years for a long-term, multi-community project in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps to better address erosion. However, this project is not expected to begin until next spring and there is no timetable yet for when crews will reach North Wildwood beaches.

So North Wildwood decided to transform its beaches on its own, prompting the state Department of Environmental Protection to step in and halt the work.

Rosenello, however, said the beaches were eager for that work to begin and continued the public dispute with DEP that led to the city filing a lawsuit last year.

” READ MORE: https://www.inquirer.com/news/north-wildwood-jersey-shore-beach-dunes-dep-20230105.html

The current dredge design is a short-lived solution.

“They waited too long”

Rosenello, a Republican, praised the Democratic Murphy administration and called the bill an extraordinary bipartisan effort. He also credited Republican state senator Michael Testa Jr. cooperation with state officials.

“The governor and his team have engaged directly with the mayor and the North Wildwood community to address this issue and will continue to work together to find a solution to mitigate erosion in North Wildwood,” said Natalie Hamilton, Murphy’s press secretary.

Rosenello said the emergency work will widen the Seventh Avenue beach by 700 feet at high tide.

“Everything from here to there was destroyed,” Rosenello said Monday, pointing south as he stood atop a handicap-accessible wooden platform that carries beachgoers to the beach on Seventh Avenue. “There was a whole dune system that just completely disappeared.”

For the past few years, he said, the city has been trucking dry sand from Wildwood, but with the new project, more erosion-resistant wet sand will be delivered to the beach.

Christy Gamber, who rents an apartment in North Wildwood, said the beach work is “absolutely needed.”

“They waited too long,” Gamber said. “Now we are well into the summer months and people are crowding onto smaller and smaller beaches.”

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