By DON STINE
A proposed $1.2 million project to install a bulkhead along sections of the Shark River in the Shark River Hills area brought concerned residents out to this week’s Neptune Township Committee meeting.
Residents, including members of the Shark River Cleanup Coalition, said a bulkhead along S. Riverside Drive will change the aesthetics and biology of the shoreline. Many said they use the area for boating, fishing and walking dogs and that a bulkhead would interfere with all of that.
“FEMA money is nice and I hope you will carefully consider options. I don’t want you to put up some weird wall. I think you need to get the opinions of residents- they live there,” resident Courtney Atkins said.
An $835,529 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant will pay for much of the project with the remaining $346,245 funded through the bond ordinance. The ordinance will have a public hearing on May 22.
“We will have public input as we move forward,” Mayor Michael Brantley said.
Many residents said they would prefer to see a “living shoreline” installed rather than a composite bulkhead.
A “living shoreline” is a term used to define a number of shoreline protection options that allow for natural coastal processes through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials.
“This plan is not an improvement- a living shoreline would be,” resident Stefanie Sayer said.
Township Business Administrator Vito D. Gadaleta said that a proposal to create a living shoreline was submitted to state Department of Environmental Protect (DEP) officials but that the agency turned it down. He said state officials are concerned about storm damage to nearby roads and sewer systems.
He said that the current ordinance is to provide the funding but that no consultant or formal designs have been put in place.
“The height will be determined as we go through the design process,” he said.
Resident Michael Golub suggested township officials go back to the DEP “to elicit a better response.”