NJ DEP Shuts Down North Wildwood Beach Project After Mayor Criticizes Governor Murphy


NORTH WILDWOOD, NJ – It’s no secret, Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello is probably not on New Jersey Governor Murphy’s Christmas list, but today, Rosenello said the governor’s actions against his city appear to be nothing short of political payback.  As North Wildwood tries to salvage its summer tourism season, the Murphy administration attempted to sabotage the good vibes by condemning the city for “putting public safety at risk” at the height of the town’s much-needed summer kick-off back in June.

Murphy’s DEP ordered a work stoppage claiming the city never filed for permits when building a bulkhead to protect the city from possible future storm damages.

“These activities were undertaken without regard for the laws and regulations that have long been in place to protect public safety and the fragile ecosystems that are not only important as wildlife habitat but serve critical functions in protecting New Jersey’s coastal communities,” Commissioner McCabe said. “It is vital that projects in coastal ecosystems undergo thorough reviews under state laws and regulations in place to ensure these activities if allowed, are conducted in a manner that protects both the public and the environment. North Wildwood showed complete disregard for these laws and regulations and must stop work immediately.”

The DEP said the city is responsible for the destruction and loss of protective dunes.  Rosenello responded by setting the story straight.

Rosenello responded to Murphy and his administration, essentially with a message that could be translated simply as, “f-ck off!”

“For over six years the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) have repeatedly missed deadlines and failed in their responsibility to construct the Hereford Inlet to Cape May Inlet Shore Protection Project, as mandated and funded at both the Federal and State Levels. This failure has led to the complete destruction of a mature dune and marine forest environment along the inlet and beachfront of North Wildwood. It has also placed human life and public and private property in grave danger and cost the City of North Wildwood over $10 million dollars for emergency protective work,” Rosenello said.  “As documented in the response to the NOV’s released today, North Wildwood has repeatedly asked the NJDEP to take emergency action to address the alarming destruction of natural and manmade resources on the oceanfront of the City. These repeated requests have been completely ignored by the Office of the Governor, Commissioner of the NJDEP and Deputy Commissioner of the NJDEP. Not one of the nearly dozen correspondences were ever replied to. It is amazing, therefore, that on a Saturday in the midst of one of the most challenging summers in the history of the Jersey Shore, the NJDEP Commissioner herself would issue a press release regarding alleged violations that the NJDEP directly caused by their inaction.”

Rosenello said the Murphy administration has completely ignored every single request he’s made regarding the project and it was only after his public criticism of Governor Murphy that the DEP finally got involved.

“The City of North Wildwood will avail itself to every legal recourse at its disposal to hold the NJDEP accountable for their failure to act and will also diligently investigate whether political factors led to the rash behavior of the NJDEP,” he said. It strikes me as beyond a coincidence, that for six years I could not get even the courtesy of an email reply from the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner in response to very real public safety concerns. However, within a week of my public criticism of the Governor regarding his handling of the State Economy, the NJDEP marshals the full resources of the Commissioner’s Office to issue NOV’s for things as trivial as the installation of an American Flag Pole some 30 years ago, Rosenello said.  “North Wildwood will continue to act as responsible stewards of our unique marine environment and I call on the NJDEP to put politics aside and do the same.”

Rosenello has been a critic of Murphy’s handling of the Jersey Shore during the pandemic where Murphy’s picking of winners and losers has severely impacted tourism based businesses from Cape May to Sandy Hook.

Earlier this summer, Murphy shut down Rosenello’s plan to allow for outdoor alcohol consumption to prevent residents from driving around the city with open containers, allowed by Governor Murphy.  After closing down a “drinking district”, Murphy sent State Police helicopters over the city, allegedly, to check up on Rosenello’s compliance of his order.

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