RESIDENTS RALLY AGAINST FLOOD MITIGATION PROJECT
More than 75 residents of Shark River Hills and supporters of The Shark River Cleanup Coalition held a march and rally along South Riverside Drive in Shark River Hills to voice their opposition to a flood mitigation project proposed for South Riverside Drive in Neptune Township.
Speakers called on the Township to reject the grant, claiming that the Township overstated the need for a bulkhead type design in its application to FEMA. In question are claims that the road floods on a regular basis, 2-3 times per month, during high tides, and that chronic road flooding causes road closures, evacuations, and police blockades. Residents strongly deny that these situations have occurred. SRH property owner Ray Dodd surveyed the past 51 high tides, and disputed these assertions, after finding no evidence of flooding at high tides along that 2000 foot stretch of the river. Resident Jim Chenitz filed FOIA requests from the Neptune Township and the Monmouth County, and they were unable to produce any documentation to validate those frequent flooding claims.
The township will vote on ordinance 15-35 on Monday night, August 14, to bond for approximately $350,000 to finance the project, with the remaining $850,000 being paid by FEMA.
Neptune Township filed an application with FEMA in 2010 for a 2,000 ft long, 10 foot (above base flood elevation) high bulkhead to be constructed along South Riverside Drive from the bottom of “Snake Hill” to the Shark River Beach and Yacht Club. The application has been under review and revision since that point in time.
At the May 23, 2017 Township Committee meeting, after residents of Shark River Hills objected to the plan and called for a living shoreline concept instead, the committee voted to table an ordinance that would have authorized a bond to move the project forward. Mayor Brantley assured residents that the discussion would continue at a public meeting to be held at a later date.
Dr. Andrew Rella, a coastal engineer and CEO of EcoConcrete, was subsequently consulted to design a hybrid model for the township. He presented a model at the public meeting held on July 25th which utilizes his company’s product, EcoConcrete ( a concrete mattress), and an armored Geotube core ( a huge silt filled sock). Elevation of the proposed project dropped from 10′ to 8 1/2′ above base elevation, which would be about 4′ above the existing road. Access to the river would only occur at street intersections with the River.
At the rally several speakers questioned whether or not flood mitigation is a real necessity here, the exact impact on the ecology and environment, and lack of beach access beyond the entry points. Speakers also expressed concern for the vegetation, wildlife, and sea life that would be negatively impacted by the project. Resident Susan Chenitz condemned the proposal by EcoConcrete, explaining that this design has previously only been used in urban settings with the concrete mattress fully submerged. In the unique setting of this residential tidal basin, it is untested.
SRCC President Jim MacNamara called for the township to reject the grant, and instead replace/repair the outfall pipes by retrofitting them with tideflex valves to regulate the flow in and out of the Shark River. Another section of South Riverside has been fitted with these valves, which the township acknowledges has been very successful in mitigating any flooding. At the very least, the SRCC has urged the township to seek an extension from FEMA until more research can be done on the living shoreline design concept, and/or whether or not flood remediation is even necessary.
Residents of Shark River Hills will be attending the township meeting to protest the acceptance of Ordinance # 17-35.