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.
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
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.