Little Egg Harbor Readies for Second Phase of Lagoon Dredging

Feb 20, 2019

Little Egg Harbor has received the environmental impact statement and approval letter from the Department of the Interior that allows them to go ahead with the Living Shoreline project on Iowa Court, Osborn Island. The recent shutdown of the federal government had delayed the project to create a stone barrier and fill in the marsh out to the historic shoreline of the 1970s. The hard barrier will be planted with oyster spat (baby oysters) by ReClam the Bay.

Iowa Court’s living shoreline was one of two projects funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the other is in Tuckerton.

Speaking at the Feb. 14 municipal meeting, Committeeman Ray Gormley said the project could begin any day. To give the homeowners on that street, which faces the bay, even greater protection, the township has applied to the N.J. Department of Transportation to pave Iowa Court when the shoreline project is completed.

Gormley asked if residents living on lagoons on the east side of Radio Road had seen a boat traveling up and down – “That’s the survey boat taking depth readings,” he said. A meeting for these Mystic Island residents is planned for 7 p.m. on March 15 at Frog Pond Elementary School. The meeting is to discuss the dredging of the lagoons from Monroe’s Marina to Great Creek. There are 530 homes along these lagoons, so Gormley suggested just one family member from each home attend the meeting as space is limited.

“We’re making some great strides and are in good position with our waterways,” he said.

He also shared that the Osborn Island dredging project is completed and thanked the property owner who allowed the town to use their land as a de-watering site. “We don’t have the numbers yet, but the project went very, very well.” Osborn Island residents on waterways will be assessed for the work.

The township hired a Class II officer who will be assigned to the schools, bringing the total number of police officers to 44.

The township passed a resolution to buy a new Mack rear-loader garbage truck for $254,980 and a new $172,543 radio system for the police department dispatch that records all conversations between dispatch and police. The radio system was purchased through an ordinance passed in 2014 that allowed the township to bond for it. The garbage truck is part of the capital budget.

Township Engineer Jason Worth met with Ocean County and Mathis Construction for a pre-construction meeting for the Park and Ride commuter parking lot planned for the west side of the Garden State Parkway interchange. Worth said the project should begin soon and be done before Memorial Day.

Committeewoman Lisa Stevens asked if the county was going to install electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot. Worth said the county has applied for a grant to do that, and added the lot will also be a New Jersey Transit stop.

A public hearing on the Veterans Park project off Radio Road is March 4 at 7 p.m. in the courtroom. The public hearing is required for changing the use of the land purchased with Green Acres funds from open space to a public park. Comments may also be forwarded by March 19 to the township clerk to send to the NJDEP, said Worth.

The township is applying for a $200,000 Sustainable Jersey grant that is funded through PSE&G. The purpose of the grant is to make the township greener and more sustainable, he said.

Lastly, Worth said he is almost done with the engineering specs to send to the NJDOT for repaving Maryland Road. The township is asking for $300,000 in county funding.

During the public portion of the meeting, land owner Linda Fahmie said she wanted to clarify something for the record and stated the 68 acres she is proposing for Great Wolf Resorts was deemed “clean” by the NJDEP in 2007. “We were made aware that people have been using the property to dump boats and trash. We have taken out six Dumpsters full of garbage, including boats and Jet Skis. We have installed gates and again posted the land. It was being used for hunting and biking, which was never permitted there.” Fahmie also said that she was prepared to pay a reward to anyone photographing registrations of trespassers and reporting them to the police.

She asked the mayor and township committee to again supply her with a letter of interest that she could take to Great Wolf Resorts, as she is preparing to go to Wisconsin again to to attract the resort developers.

The land in question is adjacent to Walmart on Route 9 and has water and sewer, is zoned general business and is in the Town Center.

On a different subject, resident Jean Rhodes asked why the township is continuing to use Gilmore and Monahan as its attorney since law partner George Gilmore was indicted by a grand jury in January for tax evasion totaling over $1.5 million.

“Why are we doing business with him?” she asked.

Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said, “I’m the attorney, and I work for Gilmore and Monahan. It’s an unfathomable occurrence, but the township’s work is being done by me. As long as you continue the contract, I will get paid.”

Mayor Barbara Jo Crea said the contract is for only a year and the township can reconsider in January.

George Gilmore is the head of the Ocean County Republican Party; his trial starts on March 29, said Cipriani.

During committee comments, Deputy Mayor John Kehm suggested the township develop a resolution stating it would not be a sanctuary township and to send it to neighboring municipalities for their endorsement. Mayor Crea said it was a good idea, and Cipriani was tasked with writing it.

— Pat Johnson

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