Sand is pumped onto the beach in Ortley Beach from the ship in the photo as part of the beach and dune construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2017. A project to backfill parts of the beach is expected to cost Ocean County towns $8 million. (Karen Wall/Patch)

NJ - Ocean County To Pay Half Of Towns $8M Beach Replenishment Bill

Towns have asked the state to pay for the work to restore the beaches damaged by storms and erosion.

OCEAN COUNTY — Ocean County will pay half of the nearly $8 million cost to county towns for a beach replenishment project that will restore beaches damaged by storms and erosion from Point Pleasant Beach to Berkeley Township, county officials announced.

The beach replenishment project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is an expected follow-up to the beach and dune construction work that was done on the northern barrier island back in 2017-2018. The work aims to address areas that are "hot spots" for damage and maintain the beach construction that was done to help mitigate the effects of a hurricane.

The entire project, set to begin early in 2023, is estimated to cost $60 million, officials have said, with the federal government paying $30 million, and the state and towns affected paying the remaining $30 million.

Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill, at the Toms River Township Council meeting last week, said the county's mayors organization is urging the state to pay for the full remainder of the costs because of the burden they pose for town budgets. Toms River's portion of the costs is nearly $2 million, a significant strain on the budget, he said.

"These beaches are used by everyone in the state," Hill said.

The towns are responsible for the operation of the beaches, which is why they are responsible for the costs of the beach replenishment work.

Hill said the mayors of the affected towns are continuing to seek help from the state for the remaining costs, because of the state's strong budget position, and because the beach operations have been costly: Toms River has had a deficit in its beach operations the last three years, Hill said.

John P. Kelly, director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, said the county received the request for help and met with mayors and town officials from Berkeley Township, Seaside Park, Seaside Heights, Toms River Township, Lavallette, Brick Township, Mantoloking, Bay Head, Point Pleasant Beach and Point Pleasant Borough. Point Pleasant Borough joined the meeting to support their neighboring communities, Kelly said.

The beaches have suffered severe erosion following several coastal storms that battered the coastline in recent years, including a major storm late last winter.

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