OCEANPORT – April showers may cause flooding, especially in Oceanport. But officials hope some key updates will help stem the tides that seep into borough roads.
During the April 6 workshop meeting, Mayor John “Jay” Coffey noted that flooding is a problem the borough needs to deal with. Torrential rains the day of the meeting had inundated streets across the borough, and concerned residents flooded the email inboxes of Coffey and some councilmembers with photos showing the scope of the problem.
“It’s different now than it was several years ago,” Coffey said, noting that the flooding was getting worse and happening more often. “Flooding across all of Oceanport is a problem. This is what we’re facing as a town. There’s a way to ameliorate some of the problems, but it costs money.”
While introducing a 2017 municipal budget proposing a small tax increase for borough residents, the Oceanport mayor and council outlined long-term plans to address the flooding that plagues the borough. Part of that strategy involves the installation of check valves to prevent river water from flooding into roads through the sewers and drains during storm surges or high tides. Those would be installed in 36 storm drain outfalls across the borough, an expensive but necessary update that the borough hopes to fund with bonds and grants in the long term.
Check valves will not eliminate flooding completely, but Coffey says they will go a long way toward reducing much of the street flooding that has happened with more frequency each year.
“We have 14 or 15 blocks in our town that have flooding issues,” Coffey told The Two River Times. “What used to be in connection with severe weather events is now becoming more commonplace during minor weather events and high tides.”
As another approach, Coffey said Oceanport plans to purchase Jet-Vac trucks capable of clearing debris from drains and pipes. That equipment, and the cost of purchasing it, will be shared with Shrewsbury.
Flooding has become a pervasive problem for Oceanport, Coffey said, and it is no longer one the borough can put off or ignore. Instead, infrastructure updates like check valves must be planned and budgeted for.
“I’ve watched how kicking the can down the road can cause some serious problems,” he said. “People don’t see these check valves or notice when it’s not flooding. But ultimately I think people will want this. It is something that has to be done.”
Check valves are part of Oceanport’s three-year plan and its 2017 budget, which calls for a small increase over last year, where an average home assessed at $448,522 would see an increase of $93.67. A public hearing for the 2017 municipal budget and tax resolution is scheduled for May 18.
This article was first published in the April 13-20, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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