Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato has called on the state to help establish an adequate dune system at Island Beach State Park as a way to protect the township from the consequences of another Hurricane Sandy-like disaster.
In a Feb. 10 letter, Amato called on the state Department of Environmental Protection to give the park's dune restoration a priority, saying the largely undeveloped beachfront recreation area has breaches "that ultimately led to the flooding within the township bayfront community."
Amato read the letter aloud during the Berkeley Council's Monday meeting.
Here is that letter:
As you know on October 29, 2012, our State was struck with one of the worst storms in history, wreaking havoc on our shorelines and displacing thousands. My community was ravaged by Super Storm Sandy, especially the bay front community. Luckily, the oceanfront community, which was front and center during the Storm’s tidal surges, was protected due to the dune system in place, as required by the Township since the 1980s. These dunes shielded a vast majority of the ocean front and near ocean front structures from total destruction. In fact, other than some relatively minor flooding in those sections, the area fared well.
Unfortunately the Township’s bay front community did not fare as well. While there remains differences of opinion with regard to what caused the destruction to our bay front communities, our Township and its residents believe the failure of an adequate dune system at Island Beach State Park led to the destruction. Attached hereto please find a report prepared by our Berkeley Township Waterways Advisory Commission, under the leadership of William McGrath, which details breaches at Island Beach State Park that ultimately led to the flooding within the Township bay front community. Above all, this report shows a need for an adequate dune system at Island Beach State Park in order to protect the Township and its residents.
While our ocean front residents are being forced to sign easements for the Army Corps’ dune restoration project, no work is currently identified to occur at Island Beach State Park. At numerous meetings between Township officials and State officials, the State acknowledged that the dunes currently in place need very little work in order to meet the requirements of the project and the property owners whose land is at issue have willingly stated they will make the changes so as to avoid the imposition of an easement. They, however, are being required to sign easements to ensure conformity to the dune system so as to preserve the shoreline’s integrity and yet the State’s property, which is largely unprotected, is not part of any current or future project.
Carmen F. Amato, Jr. Mayor
Bob Martin, Commissioner 401 E. State St. 7th Floor, East Wing P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402 Dune System on Island Beach State Park Dear Commissioner Martin:Page 2 Letter to Commissioner Martin Dune System on Island Beach State Park
The absence of a dune system there permits the water to easily travel over State property and significantly impact the surrounding areas. Therefore, I am writing to implore you to reconsider identifying Island Beach State Park as an area in need of a dune system, and request that it be added to the current dune restoration project or an environmental restoration project. The integrity of the Township as a whole is compromised during a storm should Island Beach State Park remain unprotected.
I would appreciate the favor of a reply, either in writing or a follow up meeting with you and your staff to discuss.
I Thank You for your attention to this matter. Very Truly Yours,
Carmen F. Amato, Jr. Mayor