ACE Notes from May 7th Meeting

They Army Corp of Engineers on March 12 announced the plan for the feasibility study for Highlands for Zone 2. It initially decided to break the town into 7 zones. The thought process is that instead of just putting up one type of wall, take the town in chunks and figure out if the proper mitigation is a wall or a berm depending on the topography and current coastline of each section.  The ACE people said regarding the meetings, that instead of doing each zone separately, they decided to do zones 3-7 in one meeting (hence the May 7th meeting) because of lack of response from the residents in the first meeting in March for Zone 2, which initiated grumbling with residents due to lack of communication when the meetings were happening or why ACE required feedback from residents. (There was a meeting held earlier for businesses that was also inadequately announced or communicated and had only sparse attendance as well.)

Note that the terms “wall,” bulkhead,” and “seawall” are used interchangeably but mean the same thing, a corrugated metal wall placed on the water side of the existing bulkhead or inland from the current beachfront.

Regarding the berm, it is 12 feet wide and 3 feet high. There will be walk-overs, but they won’t be able to be walked on. There would be planted sea grass. The smaller walls would be a 5 feet high and a foot wide. There would be walk-overs here as well, but you could put a beach chair on either side of the wall without issue.ace zones

Unit 1 – Paradise Park and adjacent property – This actually fell off the list due to the Navesink Shores doing their own mitigation project with the new development.

Unit 2- Willow to Snug Harbor – this area can have either a berm or small wall; both options are on the table, and they are looking for resident feedback in making the final decision.

Unit 3- Snug Harbor to Sea Drift – this is a a wall similar to what is there now and a two feet higher with a cement cap. On the Captain Cove, the bulkheads will be higher matching marine place and it also includes walk overs for the marina and viewing stairs to look over the wall. The new bulkhead will be placed, according to the current plan, on the water side of the current bulkhead and will effectively line the marina. This option was chosen as more cost-effective than a flood gate for the marina.

Unit 4- Sea Drift to Cedar – this area can have either a berm or small seawall; both options are on the table, and they are looking for resident feedback in making the final decision.

Unit 5- Cedar to Miller St – this area can have either a berm or small wall; both options are on the table, and they are looking for resident feedback in making the final decision.

Unit 6 – Miller Street to South Street (Shrewsbury Ave properties) – wall similar to Marine Place with cement cap.

Unit 7 – South Street to Bridge – this actually wasn’t discussed.

Its going to take approximately 2 years to do the feasibility study and approval from the town in order to move forward.

Some other highlights:

Funding is allocated by Congress; however, ACE won’t move forward until a) they finish the feasibility study and 2)they get the green light from town.

ACE would also re-evaluate pumps and determine whether they needed to be replaced or current pumps would be sufficient.

The cost is estimated at $55 million with 65% federal and 35% non-federal split. The town would be required to pay 9%. They also said there could be County Funding to assist with this.

The town (or at least the residents Tuesday night) didn’t seem to agree on whether it should be green-lighted.

Concerns included things like:

  • “this wouldn’t be a silver bullet to stop total flooding in Highlands,” it would keep most (note this is most and not completely) surge out also it wouldn’t not stop run-off from the hill
  • the amount of space the berms would take up,
  • the height of the walls,
  • the overall look of the walls,
  • ADA access (or lack there of)
  • beach vehicle access to private beaches (ie Gravelly),
  • blocking views,
  • easements versus eminent domain,
  • neighbors wanting different options (berm vs small wall),
  • the varying height of the barrier at different parts of town
  • the fact that it might not get done because of the dissent of owners on the water front
  • the cost of paying for it vs the cost of not doing it
  • etc

It hasn’t been determined whether the final green light will be given solely by the council or if the council will put it out to a referendum for residents to vote on.

Either way this is going to be a *hot* topic and further resident involvement is a must.




  1. Where would the notice of these meetings be posted? Is there a schedule of upcoming meetings? Thanks.


    • Keep an eye on the blog and on the Highlands facebook page. That’s where I found out about the meetings.

      And this was announced last night:

      From:Highlands Borough Clerk

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very informative post. Don’t know how much the average resident can contribute, unless they are engineers, but I agree, they should be included in the process.


  3. This is gonna suck if it goes down this way!!! Bye bye to any views of the water etc replaced by looking at an ugly black wall. The town will be in a bathtub. Better to deal with the flooding than to try to fight the forces of nature!!


  4. Actually one average resident noted that their association uses a vehicle to clean their beach front. Other residents noted the need for ADA compliance re: access to docks and beaches. The ACE committee immediately said thanks, we now know we need to include vehicle access and more ramps. ACE is looking for feedback from commercial owners on the waterfront so they can incorporate into their design the different operational features that owners need to keep their businesses thriving and successful. Input from all property owners and residents (pro or con) at this phase of the feasibility process is necessary for the project to be a win-win for everyone.


  5. Our views,our beaches but 1500 homes and businesses flooded that don’t have views or use of some of these beaches. Sea levels are rising…wake up, man! You can raise your house high in the sky but water will keep rising you can’t stop it. If this Ace project was done years ago this town wouldn’t have been so badly burned with Sandy. We need to mitigate from within and without and we can actually do something creative with these walls like paint landscapes if we use our imagination. Maybe we can actually create tourism with these walls? The whole shore line is being protected with dunes, we don’t have that option so we need to work with what we can to protect ourselves. People need to stop just thinking about themselves and think about everyone it effects. You have waterfront property, well there is how many people with homes behind you that you don’t care about? Everyone talks about best interest of town unless it comes to this….. I really just don’t get it? Go back and look at photos of this town after Sandy. Boats & debris slammed into houses, everything that people owned in the world in the gutter block after block after block. HB maybe you can post some of those as lovely views as memories are evidently short lived.


  6. Why is everyone raising their houses to be put into a bathtub. They flat out said this would not have prevented Sandy. Everyone would still have had 3 feet of water in their homes. Everyone is raising so do take the only thing this town has to offer – the beaches away! And how is the water supposed to go out? It’s going I to be worse! After Sandy the water left. Now it will sit and sit I and need to be pumped out probably. This town has no library, no real police station. No hair salon, nothing attractive except a few restaurants and beaches. Get your houses raised and move along. Don’t wall it up to become a complete dump altogether.


    • I don’t agree they “flat out said” Sandy would have happened, I heard “Sandy would have been bad, but not as bad” = I am far enough up, that if we relived 92 or Donna, I wouldn’t have had a forced “renovation” – We can’t do nothing, so what is your compromise?


    • YES HB, exactly what I clearly heard from the corp but I noticed a lot of selective hearing cause people are more worried about their view and private beaches then their neighbors and their property. Perhaps the attendees at the Corp meting are unaware that the town also has a mitigation project to alleviate the the flooding from 36 and full moon/High Tide which is one of the causes of fishbowl. There are residents that live in structures that simply cannot be elevated but I guess that tough luck for them. You can elevate your house and you might not flood but we have another huge surge a boat or debris can knock you right off your foundation. I hope they do put to referendum as majority of people who live and own property that is not waterfront and have private beaches but have to suffer for selfishness. Go to Sandy Hook!


    • I don’t know where to start. First if you are here for the private beach you should move. Second the bathtub comment is editorial. Drains and pumps will get the water out. Third the fact that you bring up a hair salon is odd…. as if there weren’t 10 of them within 5 miles. Fourth the wall will help stop the town from becoming a dump…. for water. Finally if those shitty little brackishwater beaches are the only thing you find good about this town, you need to stop by the waterwitch or the sandwitch shop or the st pats parade or hang out with the garden club girls or the clam fest or other events and really get to know some locals. The best thing the town has to offer is the people and the community. We can walk like a mile to a great beach we have a great mix of eclectic people from all classes who actually interact. There’s like 20 private beach properties but several thousand people who are affected. Your point is more then selfish.


    • Not everyone is raising there houses and business. The condos can’t be raised and there are businesses that can’t be raised. Don’t they deserve some protection? And it won’t be a bathtub because the Corps would make sure we have adequate check valves and pumps…something this town currently lacks.

      They said that the damage would have been LESS if the wall was built. I don’t know about you, but I would certainly take LESS damage over watching everyone’s lives pile up on Shore Drive for months and the increased vacancy rate.


  7. To use a medical analogy, this is a case where the treatment is worse than the injury. It’s not worth ruining our beaches to deal with something that may only happen once every 100 years. If everyone raises their houses then a flood even of Sandy level isn’t going to be such a big deal. Our streets flood with every king tide and nobody thinks anything of it. Every house and business in town can be raised for a heck of a lot less than $55 million, and we’ll still have the nice beaches.

    Highlands is like a double-edged sword. Both the great thing about it and the downside is that it’s only a couple feet above sea level. Don’t take away the great part by building rusty steel seawalls and berms.


    • I’m sorry treatment worse than injury? Thats crazy and insulting after what people have been through. There are some who were just flooded a year before with Irene so not that rare. Not as many were affected but weather has become more erratic and extreme and these storms will happen more often. I and everyone I know do not think that the regular flooding in this town is just acceptable. As for Condos, they cannot be raised unless you have some special engineering secret that every other is unaware of. The town doesn’t just have 55 million to play with, it’s allocated soecifically for Corp mitigation project, There will still be beaches in the town just not these little private ones. If it’s so important to you write Pallone ask him to fight for funding to replenish the beaches. Earle will have plenty of sand from dredging but town doesn’t have money to haul it in or there is the option of financing yourself but don’t put others in harms way for your little private beach.


  8. Not to change the subject a bit … but most of what people have gone through has been a direct result of the insurance industry and the disaster funding PROMISED for 18+ months now by the federal government. Both of which are circling and knee-jerking homeowners that paid premiums and applied for aid. This ACE project is in a feasibility stage and that federal process takes time – estimated 4-5 yrs before it’s a real project? IMO the insurance and grant debacle is the fight that Highlanders should gang up against to fight about …. because whatever is conquered from that fight NOW will protect Highlands a hell of a lot more from another storm in the next 4 years than a project blueprint waiting for approval from the feds.


    • Barbara, I agree that people should fight for funding to elevate and mitigate town but as someone who was flooded as most were, I consider coming back after Sandy and throwing out mostly everything owned along with other seeing peoples lives sitting on the curb the most devastating and traumatizing aspect. I guess that is why I really don’t understand people’s view that a beach or view is more important. Although Corp project may not be done until years to come the fact that there is such blantant resistance over self serving issues disgusts me personally.


  9. The bay, river, beaches, marinas, etc. is what we’ve got that people who live in Freehold or Somerville can only dream about. Sorry but no amount of sheetrock and furniture is worth giving that up. If we wall off the water we might as well all pack up and move to (name some other inland NJ town).


    • If they dream about it why aren’t they here? There’s plenty of reasonable real estate and yet a ghost town. Totally irrational, self serving, cold hearted argument. Your a real companionate fellow.
      @ 7 stars your taxes are heading up for past mistakes one if which not protecting us from flooding.


  10. I will vote yes for the ACE mitigation project when the time comes, but if my taxes double to pay the town’s share, I will have to leave. I am all for this project but I am very worried about how the town will pay its portion.


    • We’ll bond for it like we do everything else. We just have to hope the town hasn’t reached the bonding capacity by then.


  11. The beaches are the only reason SOME people have stayed. Highlands really doesn’t have much to offer. If I had the chance to sell I would be gone.


    • This town has plenty to offer. It’s a great community with a fantastic coffee shop, bakery, and fish market. I can walk or ride my bike to everything. I hoping that the town council gets some new members with new ideas and can break through the stagnation we seem to be in.

      The Highlands beaches are the last reason I moved here.


  12. Yeah let’s keep the old bridge that they had to water to operate in the summer…. that’s what this sounds like lol. I really find the beach argument the stupidest pos selfish imaginary hold up. Can somebody tell me how many private beach properties there are? I say 20-50. Take a look at the rockwall on 36…. you get to build a deck over something like that and have your beach parties sipping hurricanes happily knowing the town had some protection from future likely events.   Number one- you take fed money for big projects always . There will be long term economic benefits for a long time from federal paychecks buying pancakes and sandwiches and coffee and flowers and maybe even some beers if they can find a place that sells that stuff round here. Number 2- you take fed money- the project will improve the value of the town, pumping , engineering costs, and a capital improvement that we won’t have to bear the whole pain. Number 3 -you take the fed money. This is about the only time Nj gets any money from the fed.


  13. It would be nice if there was compromise so that all people are safe and happy at the same time. I love the beach as much anyone else but willing to sacrifice to be safe. Having said that, I decided to look up what money was allocated from our representatives and there has been a lot of money given out for mitigation,drainage, infrastructure, utilities and beach replenishment projects all along shore EXCEPT for Highlands! Some of the communities weren’t as nearly as devastated as Highlands. I recommend you look through their press releases. My question is, if beaches were replenished would you be more accepting? If so, instead of fighting against each other and ACE project, maybe we all should fight for more funding from our representatives? Go through their press releases, maybe we can get petition together or a letter writing campaign to fight for more money to replenish our beaches and fix our serious infrastructure issues.


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