By DON STINE
The North Beach area in Asbury Park will not be used as a staging area for a federal beach replenishment project from Loch Arbour to Long Branch.
Asbury Park officials said last week that a proposal to use the North Beach as a staging area is being rejected, primarily due to a lack of information and a set timeframe for the site to be vacated.
“There are too many unanswered questions and not enough information. It just made no sense to us that the Army Corps said they will begin the project in the beginning of April and be out of our beach area by the end of April. That was not a realistic timeframe to us,” Asbury Park Mayor John Moor said.
Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said at a previous meeting with city officials that if the Asbury Park site is not available then the next potential site to house equipment, such as bulldozers and piping, for the project will be in Loch Arbour.
Asbury Park officials were expected to notify both state and federal officials about the city’s decision last week.
The 3.5-mile project will replenish beaches from the Elberon section of Long Branch south to Loch Arbour by pumping about 3.4 million cubic yards of sand onto beaches at a cost of $3.8 million.
However, the project must begin at the southern end in Loch Arbour because of the south-to-north flow of the ocean current along the shoreline.
Loch Arbour Mayor Paul Fernicola said he is going to send a letter to the Asbury Park Council asking them to reconsider their decision.
“We are only two blocks wide here in Loch Arbour and we really don’t have much excess property to use. It would be much easier for Asbury Park than for us to do this,” he said.
Asbury Park Councilman Joseph Woerner said city officials did not see any benefit in hosting the staging area and the project seems poorly planned.
“I, personally, am against replenishment in general. All of these things together made it hard to approve use of an area used by fishermen, surfers and dog lovers,” he said.
Woerner said that the North Beach area is also environmentally sensitive and that it was not properly cleaned up by the Army Corp after the last beach replenishment project around 2001.
Long Branch, Deal, Allenhurst and Loch Arbour decided to opt-out of the 2001 beach replenishment that placed sand on beaches, including Asbury Park, by not granting easements for the project.
However, during Superstorm Sandy these communities experienced heavy damage so they have now decided to participate in the federal replenishment project, which, in total, extends from Sea Bright to Manasquan.
Asbury Park officials said that there are adequate sites in the other four towns to host a staging area for the equipment and materials and some of these will have to be found after the April deadline anyway.