SEA BRIGHT – The borough and Monmouth Beach have received a grant totaling more than $28 million representing reimbursement of 90 percent of the total cost of repairing the Super Storm Sandy damaged seawall.
The funds, totaling $28,358,886.60 came to the state Department of Environmental Protection through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The award was announced by US Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Representative Frank Pallone, who represents both communities in Congress. The project is designed to repair, restore and increase the resiliency of the wall, heavily damaged during the October 2012 storm. It includes removing sand, furnishing and installing capstone, sealing the tops of the jetties with concrete grout and backfilling the area with sand.
“The seawall in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach is the first line of defense against Mother Nature for these communities, protecting them from potential devastation caused by severe flooding,” said Menendez. “This federal funding will help ensure the seawall is rebuilt to safeguard residents and property from more prevalent and powerful Nor’easters and Atlantic storms threatening the Jersey Shore.” Booker added, “by helping rebuild the seawall in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, these federal funds mark another step towards ensuring New Jersey families, businesses and natural areas are more resilient and better protected in the face of another potentially devastating storm.”
Pallone noted his pleasure that FEMA recognized the importance of his ongoing efforts in helping the shore communities to rebuild after Sandy. “Repairing this seawall is essential to protecting Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright when the next storm hits, and grants like this one are vital to reducing the burden our local governments face in the recovery progress,” he said. “We fought hard in Congress for the Sandy aid package, and with the help of FEMA, we have an opportunity to improve our public infrastructure so it is stronger and can withstand future storms.”
Sea Bright Administrator Joseph Verruni expressed the delight of the borough’s mayor and council at the news of the grant. He said the engineering design for all the work in both boroughs has been ongoing by T&M Associates, the engineers for both Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach. The borough’s share of the engineering cost should not exceed $50,000 he estimated, a small percentage of the overall cost for the massive project.
Monmouth Beach Mayor Sue Howard said the improvements vary, based on specific damage suffered during the storm, but include some limited grout repairs, resetting existing stone and full reconstruction of some portions of the seawall. In addition, the buried seawall in front of the Pavilion will be replaced to provide a continuous elevated stone seawall running the entire length of the borough. This significantly reduces points of vulnerability and infiltration during storms, she said.
“The Borough of Monmouth Beach is excited to be moving for ward in partnership with the NJDEP to provide additional storm protection for borough residents and property,” she said. “Once construction begins, it is anticipated the project will take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the work throughout both communities.”
The Super Storm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill became law two years ago, bringing the total Sandy aid enacted by Congress to $60.2 billion. The funding package included federal aid to help homeowners, businesses, and communities recover, and resources to rebuild coastal, transportation, and water infrastructure.
FEMA and state officials have been meeting for several months to finalize the worksheet required before funds could be allocated to reimburse the cost of rebuilding the wall. The state DEP had committed $8 million to the project in late 2014, however, federal funds were still required to complement that money.
Verruni said the rehabilitation of the bulkhead and creating a wall in open areas along the oceanfront will be “stronger, better, and much improved” over the seawall which has not been rehabilitated since the storm three years ago. The work also includes major repairs notably at the north side of Sea Bright where portions of the wall were constructed with small stone rather than what is in place in other sections. “All of the work planned now is taking advantage of later technology and design which will be to the benefit of the boroughs against any future storms, the administration continued. Verruni said the governing body is hopeful construction could start in March and would take approximately one year to complete.
In spite of three years since the storm without renovations to the seawall, the wall in either borough has not been seriously impacted by any storms since Sandy. “We’ve been fortunate,” Verruni said, “we’re low lying towns and always susceptible in a major storm. We’re thankful and always lucky when we’re not hit by a major storm.”
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