Tuckerton Must Find Alternate Funds for Lagoon Dredging

By Pat Johnson | Nov 20, 2019

Tuckerton — There was no joy in Mudville Monday night as residents of Tuckerton Beach, waiting for some good news on the dredging of their lagoons, were told the borough’s bid to have the dredging paid for through another source besides the residents themselves had fallen through.

Councilman John Schwartz, who was attending the Nov. 18 municipal meeting by Skype from his home in Florida, said a meeting among borough officials, representatives of the New Jersey (Infrastructure) Trust Bank and the bond counsel on Friday (Nov. 15) found the state Department of Environmental Protection had “pulled the plug on our application.”

Tuckerton Borough Administrator Jenny Gleghorn explained that the application for a $7.4 million bridge loan from the Trust Bank had passed through one section of the NJDEP with flying colors, but a different section of the DEP had found the application was not consistent with the intent of the storm water quality grant the borough was seeking. The intent of the grant is to improve water quality, not to dredge saltwater lagoons. Why the first section of the DEP did not realize this or the borough engineers or the borough itself is unknown.

Gleghorn said there might be grant funding available for dredging through the NJDOT, but she would have to research it further. But for the borough to bond for the dredging through the NJDOT, it would have to have 5 percent of the cost upfront, or $450,000 already in this year’s budget, something it doesn’t have. “The Infrastructure Bank didn’t require us to have the matching funds,” she said.

Gleghorn said the borough would have had to raise taxes considerably to have that kind of money available.

“It’s good to remember that for every $40,000 we use, that’s a penny on the tax rate. It would have bankrupted the borough to provide this amount in capital funding.”

During the public comment period, Carolyn Keen from South Green Street asked, “How does something like that get missed? Every month we come here and want to leave with some good news that we will be able to get our boats out (of the lagoons during low tide).”

And she added that many in the Tuckerton Beach area had seen their taxes go up this year. “You have to see how unfair this is,” she said.

Mayor Sue Marshall responded, “We are just as disappointed as you are. What a blow this was for us and how disappointed we were. This came out of nowhere.”

She mentioned how after Superstorm Sandy, the borough along with Little Egg Harbor Township had received a $2.1 million NFWF grant and how that had once been thought to be helpful for dredging but had been nixed by the DEP.

“We want dredging,” reiterated Keen.

The next day in an email to Keen that was posted on the Tuckerton Beach Association website, Gleghorn said the borough is committed to the dredging project and has already spent $30,000 for permits that will be used once the borough finds another funding source.

Schwartz was also asked whether the borough could use the Story Island confined disposal facility for dredge material. Schwartz and members of the Tuckerton Waterways Committee had met with the DEP’s representative on Oct. 28. They were told the CDF on Story Island was to be used for dredging the Intracoastal Waterway. But Schwartz said a former CDF at the mouth of Tuckerton Creek might be expanded toward Great Bay Boulevard and, if so, that could be used for Tuckerton lagoons on Tuckerton Creek.

In other news, Councilman Sam Colangelo put a resolution forward to accept the terms of the Ocean County revenue sharing agreement. He noted that in the past the borough has received money back from its recycling, but now that recycling markets have folded (many in China), there has been no money coming back. The county and the towns are still collecting single-stream recyclables but they are getting strict with what is allowed in recycling cans. “You can’t throw pizza boxes and cereal boxes in recycling as it contaminates the load. You have to rinse out cans and bottles, no yogurt containers, or the load will be contaminated.”

If the borough’s garbage truck is found to contain contaminants or items that are not recyclable, the load has to be dumped out and sorted at the recycling center and the bad stuff is sent back, he said. The agreement with Ocean County allows for the borough to share in any recycling profit at a 50/50 rate, but if there is a deficit at the recycling center, if Ocean County has to pay to have bad product sorted and removed, then the borough has to pay for half of that.

“Don’t put your recyclables in plastic bags, no shredded paper. If you are not following the rules, we have a conscientious guy on the recycling truck who will put it back in your container.”

Colangelo announced the free turkey dinner put on by the Red Men Tribe 61 of Tuckerton is on Sunday, Nov. 24.

The borough’s tree-lighting ceremony of the floating tree in Lake Pohatcong will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Tip Seaman County Park. Local Girl Scouts will sing carols, and all are invited.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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