Restoration of Berkeley Island County Park Planned by County
Fishing pier, living shoreline to be first projects undertaken, officials say
"It certainly was in need of some overhaul long before Sandy, and Sandy did a real job on it," said Freeholder John Bartlett, who oversees the county's parks.
The park suffered extreme damage during the storm, with waves of bay water creating gullies as they came in and exited. Between Barnegat Bay and Cedar Creek, the park had significant erosion all the way into the parking lots, and in certain sections, the entrance road itself was undermined and washed away.
"People have thought we have ignored the park, and we haven’t," Bartlett said. "There were other problems we had to handle first, plus we lost the way in and the parking. It was all gone. So that has to come first."
The restoration of the park will begin next week when the freeholder board enters into a contract with T&M Associates, an engineering firm that will use plans developed by Stevens Institute of Technology to build a "living shoreline" around the park.
Plans call for the construction of a breakwater out from the neck of the shoreline to the roadway leading into the park. Sand and muck from the bay will be filled with native plants, and a rock breakwater will function to break up the wave action in future storms, while the new plant material will hold the land in place.
The project is expected to cost $200,000, which will be funded through a state grant, Bartlett said.
"DEP is putting a lot of effort into it as they believe it is the wave of the future," said Bartlett.
The living shoreline will be the largest of its kind in the state.
But even before work on the living shoreline begins, crews from the Ocean County Bridge Department will work to restore the fishing platform at the park. The pier's support system remained in decent shape despite the storm, officials say, and the deck can be rebuilt as soon as the weather improves.
Other county crews will then build a fence around a makeshift path to the pier.
The entire park will be restored under an $8 million allocation in the 2014 capital spending plan, County Administrator Carl Block said. Bartlett said, however, that he expects the final bill for the park to come in well under the budgeted figure.
"There is an application out for FEMA reimbursement but it is not known if the county will receive any funding," Block said.
The restored park, even with the living shoreline, will continue to feature a bathing beach, officials said.
"It was always so safe for people with young kids because it’s so shallow there," said Freeholder Jack Kelly. "You can walk out pretty far and it’s only up to your knees."
Though work on the living shoreline and the fishing pier will begin shortly, no date has been set for construction to commence on the park facilities – such as the roads and parking lots – as a whole. Bartlett said he is hopeful construction will begin by fall, but it could be as long as next spring before work begins.