New Jersey Shore Town Planning Geotubes to Protect Coast

By WAYNE PARRY | March 22, 2013

The Jersey shore town hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy is planning to put sand-filled fabric tubes on its beach to protect its storm-ravaged coastline.

Mantoloking says it needs signed easements from all oceanfront homeowners by April 12.

The tubes would form the basis of a new dune system. No price tag is yet available.

It is a supplemental protective device that would go along with a widened, replenished beach in front of it, according to borough spokesman Chris Nelson.

“It’s a geotextile fabric; it’ll be a wrap,” Nelson said. “I’ll use Jersey terminology: it’ll be a calzone. Inside this calzone will be gravel and sand.

“What this calzone does is form an emergency protective measure,” Nelson said. “It’s also going to form the core of a replenished dune.”

Parts of Mantoloking remain extremely vulnerable to the pounding surf. There is a 13-foot-tall temporary sand berm, pushed there by bulldozers. But that sand berm was breached earlier this month during a nor’easter than once again sent ocean waves crashing through the dunes, across Route 35 and into Barnegat Bay, though not with nearly as destructive force as the breach that occurred during the Oct. 29 storm.

Other Jersey shore towns including Ocean City and Atlantic City have used similar fabric tubes to protect their oceanfronts, with varying results. Some of Ocean City’s tubes were exposed and ripped open during major storms over the past five years.

The tubes and the new dunes atop them can’t be constructed unless all the affected oceanfront owners sign an easement. That has proven difficult in the past for Mantoloking, which is still trying to line up the last five signatures from its 128 oceanfront homeowners for a beach replenishment project designed to widen beaches. The tubes would supplement that work, but will require separate easements.

Nelson said “two or three” oceanfront owners still say they will not sign easements. He said the borough “will do what it needs to do” if their opposition continues, hinting that some form of condemnation or eminent domain might be used.

The plan comes as the pace of rebuilding and repopulating continues to go slowly here. Every one of Mantoloking’s 521 homes suffered some level of damage; scores were completely destroyed and some were literally washed off the map.

So far, only 38 repopulation applications have been approved, but officials say not that many residents are currently living in the borough.

The post office won’t re-open until May 1 at the earliest, and garbage pickup still has not been reinstituted, because it would be prohibitively expensive for only 38 residents. Instead, the few homeowners in town have to bring their trash to bins on one of two street corners.

Contracts for house demolitions and debris removal will be awarded later this month, and the work should start by late April. The borough is urging property owners to put up bright placards visible from the outside listing their address, block and lot numbers. This is essential not only for emergency responders, but also to ensure that bulldozers and cranes don’t tear down the wrong homes once demolition starts.

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