Little Egg Harbor’s Radio Road to be Bulkheaded at Beach

By Pat Johnson | Aug 14, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson At low tide, the beach at Radio Road seems to have lots of sand but only during low tide. The beach has eroded from frequent storms.

Little Egg Harbor Township — Members of the Osborn Island Residents Association read a letter to the Little Egg Harbor Township Committee during the Aug. 8 municipal meeting, calling for action to protect the beach at the end of Radio Road. Ed Andrew said the OIRA wants to work with the township in restoring and protecting the beach and coastline.

“The end of Radio Road and the small bay beach that will lie beyond the new bulkhead is an important feature of Osborn Island. The area boasts stunning views of Great Bay and Atlantic City, and the small beach offers young children and sunbathers a quiet spot to enjoy bay breezes, wading, spectacular views and sunsets and access to the Forsythe Refuge and its wildlife. It is the gateway to Graveling Point for fishermen from all over the state. ... Maintaining this area is directly beneficial to the community and to all the businesses along Radio Road that are passed daily as people travel to get to the beach. The access, appearance and usefulness of this area also directly impacts the marketability and value of homes in Osborn Island and Mystic Islands. Failure to restore and maintain this area and the passive recreational beach, which is one of the few public waterfront accesses in town, would be a true disservice to the community.”

Andrew noted in his letter that the township has already prepared plans for a bulkhead and submitted them to the state Department of Environmental Protection for the necessary waterfront permits.

The plans call for an aluminum bulkhead around the cul-de-sac at the end of Radio Road that will be connected to the existing Mariner’s Point wooden bulkhead. However, it will be 2 feet shorter than the existing wooden bulkhead – ostensibly to allow views of the bay and skyline people enjoy now when sitting in their cars.

The OIRA is asking for the township to add benches and a bike rack to the cul-de-sac and add sand to the beach area. It also asks for an attractive pad for the garbage bins and a recycle container. A security camera monitored by the police is another needed improvement, according to the OIRA.

According to Andrew, the dredging committee of the OIRA has already “done their homework” to assist in these goals. It contacted former NJDEP official Dave Franz, who knows the township through the Iowa Court shoreline restoration, and also people from the Mordecai Trust on Long Beach Island, who successfully rebuilt parts of that natural island and provided the knowledge gained to the township’s engineer. According to the OIRA, restoring a small amount of beach sand would require Little Egg Harbor to secure two no-cost permits from the NJDEP and possibly a $100 per year Tidelands license. “The only other costs would be application preparation by T&M and nominal trucking costs for the small amount of sand for the beach right at the end of Radio Road.”

Since the beach is part of the township’s open space plan, using the township’s open space funds already in the bank might be utilized, they suggested.

It was recommended that in the future the township should consider a more extensive plan to prevent further erosion of the beach such as wave attenuation construction like that being done in Tuckerton Beach. This contains a bulkhead and rocks plus a “living” component of oyster spat (baby oysters).

“OIRA’s professional contacts have assured us that the short-term beach remediation work and the longer-term coastal erosion control work can be engineered, state and federally permitted and installed at a reasonable cost ... about $225 per coastal foot.”

Andrew said the work could be staged over several years if necessary.

They also asked if the governing body could form a waterfront maintenance committee to maintain waterfront access points and newly dredged lagoons.

Andrew had handed out the letter to the mayor and committee. Mayor Barbara Jo Crea thanked the OIRA for its work and said the governing body would take it under advisement.

David Cookson, president of the Mariners Point Homeowners Association, said the bulkhead owned by the HOA is at elevation 6 feet while the proposed bulkhead is only 4 feet high. “Sandy was elevation 8,” said Cookson. “Now we need help. The beach is wonderful, but we have concerns about our homes.”

At high tide, the proposed bulkhead would not wrap the cul-de-sac completely, and there is an opening for access vehicles at the far end, said the township engineer.

Other concerns voiced at the township meeting came from two residents of South Boston Drive. Danielle King said the stormwater drain on her street backs up during rainfalls to the point her children can swim in the water. When she called the public works department, she was told, “Yeah, there’s a lot of that going on,” and that prompted her to come to the meeting. She was assured that public works would be out again to look at the problem.

Eliza Rhodes of South Boston Drive said her neighbors have been harassing her and her family for two years and even after mediation, the problem persists. Troubling is the nature of their anti-Semitic comments, caught on camera by her husband. Her elderly parents are also being harangued, and she asked again that the police or the township do something.

Rhodes said she had contacted the mayor and Committeeman John Kehm but to no avail.

Township Administrator Mathew Spadacinni said he was aware of the situation, had talked with the police and was reviewing the complaints. “I will be reaching out to you,” he said.

Crea said she was not aware of Rhodes’ attempts to reach her, and Kehm was absent from this meeting.

Rhodes said she would be back every month until the situation is abated.

In other news, senior advocate Art Mooney thanked the township for instituting a smaller recycling can to help the senior members of the township who have trouble negotiating the larger can to the curb. As of that night only eight people had requested the smaller replacement can, which costs $20. There are 92 left. Crea said the residents who want them should call the township clerk’s office at 609-296-7241. Mooney asked if the $20 fee could be waived for those seniors who are disabled and use either a walker or a wheelchair.

A question from the public was directed to the mayor about the status of the township attorney, since the principal owner of Gilmore and Monahan has been convicted of tax evasion (George Gilmore is appealing the decision). Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said she is no longer with the firm of Gilmore and Monahan, and that firm will be closing its door as of Aug.31. Her new law firm, Rothstein, Mandell and Strom in Lakewood and Barnegat, has been hired by the township to replace Gilmore and Monahan.

During the township committee comments, Committeewoman Lisa Stevens thanked everyone for their cards and condolences on the loss of her mother. She also stated that she had led members of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve on a tour of the Iowa Court shoreline restoration. The hard structure consisting of bulkhead and rocks is almost complete; members of ReClam the Bay have been awarded the contract to install oyster spat to complete the living part of the project.

Committeeman Blaise Scibetta said the township’s National Night Out was a success thanks to the efforts of volunteers. Scibetta and Kehm are renegotiating the township’s contract with Comcast. In doing so, he has found a website that may help students and low-income people connect to the internet for as low as $9.95 a month. The site is “Kids on the SNAP program, disabled veterans and persons getting HUD housing assistance should research this and take advantage of it.”

Crea announced that she is the township’s coordinator for the upcoming census. “You are obligated to be counted,” said Crea, and promised she would be giving out a lot of information on the subject. The next Meet the Mayor at the Ocean County Library’s Little Egg Harbor branch on Mathistown Road is Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.

The township met in executive session to discuss the Comcast contract and also the collective bargaining agreement between the township and the department heads. When they reconvened, they passed the collective bargaining resolution. Details on the terms were not available as of press time.

— Pat Johnson

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