Joint press release from Ventnor Mayor Mike Bagnell and Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo. JAN 14, 2015 >>
We have obviously been following the issues being raised in the city of Margate in their attempt to stop, or at least, delay, the pending army corps of engineers Absecon island shorefront protection project. It is our understanding that the army corps has already received bids and is ready to sign the contract and, according to the newspaper reports, the state and army corps have met with Margate in a mediation effort. A federal court case is scheduled for January 15 in an attempt to resolve outstanding legal issues.
As elected officials and mayors of Ventnor and Longport who are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of our property owners and residents, we can no longer stand idly by and watch while one municipality attempts to control a project dedicated solely to the ongoing protection of property and infrastructure on Absecon Island in the event of storm.
While Margate argues about ‘loss of view’ and that hypothetical alternatives are the answer, we would like to state the facts.
- Super Storm Sandy was not a hurricane when it hit Absecon Island; it was a tropical storm. The flooding did not reach the height of the 1962 march storm. The corps project protects against 100 year storm, which has yet to occur.
- The 1944 hurricane did not hit Absecon Island but those who were here as well as the historical documents clearly show the results. Margate lost their boardwalk as did Ventnor. Margate chose not rebuild their boardwalk while Ventnor did at substantial taxpayer cost. That municipalities up and down Absecon island suffered substantial losses is beyond question.
- The Dames and Moore study, subsequent studies by the army corps, and actual experiences of beach fills with dunes have proven their protective worth in storm events. We were on the island during sandy and personally saw how well the dunes worked. Ventnor’s boardwalk was protected and beach block homes suffered little damage where there were dunes.
- Due to Margate’s previous refusal to join the original project in 2004, nearly 2,000 feet of Ventnor’s beach, from Richards avenue to Fredericksburg Avenue is left unprotected. The beach replenishment paid for by Ventnor taxpayers has washed into Margate. This can no longer continue.
- The absence of dune protection in Longport caused over 35 of 50 beachfront properties to be damaged, the project comes at no cost to the municipality; there is no obligation for further economic commitments for beach fills if the municipality does not want them; the state has modified regulations to permit the municipalities to maintain the design height of the dune; and new FEMA regulations are requiring higher first floor elevations.
In conclusion, we urge Margate and the federal court system to become a partner in the health, safety, and welfare of all of Absecon Island. We no longer live in a time when municipalities can singularly choose to opt out of regional obligations affecting their neighbors. Ventnor, Margate, and Longport have previously worked together in so many different ways. Let’s take this opportunity to show the federal, state, and other local officials as well as our residents, that we can rise above petty differences to forge a solid bond based on the common good.