Resident Upset With Parker’s Island Getting ‘Torn Up’

May 29, 2019
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Looking out over the bay from her Beach Haven condo over the Memorial Day weekend, Karen Pelino was not happy about what she saw looking out at Parker’s Island. Instead of seeing birds and boats, she watched bulldozers and construction equipment “tear the place up.”

“We’re right across the inlet,” she said. “I can see seagulls sitting on top of the mounds of bulldozed sand, probably looking around, wanting to know where their nest or home is.”

Late last year, Beach Haven signed an agreement that authorizes the N.J. Department of Transportation to use Parker Island as a dredge disposal facility. Judy Drucker, DOT public information officer, said the DOT intends to utilize the 4.3-acre site, in cooperation with Beach Haven, to manage both federal and state dredged material from nearby navigation channels. The material would be used to fortify the island.

According to the agreement, the DOT and its contractors, inspectors and engineers will have the right to enter and conduct activities required to maintain, use or improve the island, including the right to excavate drainage ditches, build and replace retaining embankments and walls, move and grade sediments and other activities.

In addition, the DOT has the right to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers direct use of the area to place dredged material subject to available capacity as well as required federal, state and local permits.

“Upon completion of any work, the NJDOT shall have its contractors clear all equipment, debris and materials, other than dredged material, attributable to this project. All debris shall be appropriately disposed,” said a resolution passed by the borough council.

“The state needed a location for managing and dewatering dredged material,” said Borough Engineer Frank Little. “With this agreement, the sediments dredge will not only be stored, but also help rebuild the island, which has suffered severe erosion after Superstorm Sandy and Winter Storm Jonas. This helps both the state and the borough.”

But Pelino said the work is being done during the hatching season for many maritime birds.

“They have bulldozed all of the vegetation,” she said. “Dredging is one thing, but to destroy a living island is criminal. We’re waiting for mallard ducklings at this time of year on our side of the inlet. It’s horrible. It also seems they’ve intentionally left a sliver of grasses to conceal from the east side what they’ve done.”

Borough Manager Sherry Mason said the project will help the birds in the long run.

“Because of all the erosion, the nests were getting flooded out,” she said. “With the Island being rebuilt, they’ll be able to nest on higher ground.” —E.E.

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