Township officials are not happy about the Army Corps of Engineers plans to dump dredge spoils from Barnegat Bay at Berkeley Island County Park.
"It's absurd," Township Council President James J. Byrnes said at the Sept. 23 council meeting. "It's crazy."
The spoils are from the Corps' massive project to dredge Barnegat Bay and remove excess sand and debris from Superstorm Sandy. The first phase includes Mantoloking to Normandy Beach. The second phase runs from Lavallette to Seaside Heights.
Fill from the bay that is deemed 90 percent clean will be redeposited on beaches and dunes. Fill that is under 90 percent clean will be stored at Cattus Island County Park in Toms River, Berkeley Island County Park and the Ocean County Landfill in Manchester Township, said Bill McGrath, chairman of the township Waterways Commission.
"Our primary concern is why use Berkeley Island Park in the first place?" said commission member Fred Bekiarian. "Ship it to the landfill."
Commission members also want to know what the risks are in storing the dredge spoils at the park and whether it will be a permanent arrangement, he said.
Berkeley Island - off Brennan Concourse in the Bayville section of the township - was heavily damaged by Sandy and has been closed since the storm hit last Oct. 29. County officials say the park will not fully reopen until 2015.
That doesn't sit well with Byrnes and commission members.
"We want parts of Berkeley Island Park open in the spring," Byrnes said. "It's a hazard to navigation. The whole park is dark."
"They should be concentrating on restoring it," Bekiarian said. "If they use it as a dredge site, it could be (closed) even longer."
Byrnes and commission members plan to meet with county officials this week to discuss the dredge spoils plan and whether the park could be opened earlier than 2015.