Eroded beach at the north end of the Strathmere section of Upper Township. (Ted Kingston Photography, provided)

NJ - Things look dire for Strathmere as beach project begins

UPPER TOWNSHIP — Pumping has begun to add sand to beaches in the south end of Ocean City, part of a $33.7 million federal contract, but about a mile and a half south, things are looking desperate in the north end of the Strathmere section of Upper Township.

Where there had been steep cliffs eroded into the side of the sand dunes in the seaside village by the end of the summer, there are now no dunes at all.

On a recent morning, waves slapped against a wall of rocks that was installed more than a decade ago as a last-ditch protection against the sea.

Those rocks were buried in sand added as part of a previous federal beach project. Today they are all that stands between the water and the roads and houses in the north end of Strathmere.

“It’s pretty bad,” said Ted Kingston, a longtime Strathmere resident.

He said the beaches are not in the worst shape he’s seen. That was around 2008, when erosion had damaged structures and threatened a steel bulkhead put in place not long before then.

The current beach erosion extends beyond the north end, with undercut dunes and eroding beaches extending multiple blocks.

“It’s a little less stressful with the beach fill two weeks away,” Kingston said.

Kingston described a time years ago when the beach along Corsons Inlet on the north side of the island was also whittled away, and there was no beach project even under consideration.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced in October it had awarded a $33.7 million contract with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock of Illinois to build beaches in Ocean City, Strathmere and Sea Isle City.

The huge dredge can be seen just off of Strathmere, but the project will build Ocean City beaches first. That city saw a beach project last winter, adding sand to the north end, and now work has started in the far south end of the city.

Work is expected to begin in Strathmere in mid-December, and continue into January, according to Gary DeMarzo, the Upper Township administrator. After that, the project will continue in Sea Isle City, which shares a barrier island with Strathmere.

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