ORTLEY BEACH, NJ – Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill is still looking for state officials to pay for the last storm that eroded the beach in Ortley Beach as another storm washed away all of that work this weekend.
In September, Ocean County residents were put on the hook for a $1 million bill for beach replenishment approved by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners.
Today, after the remnants of Hurricane Ian passed through New Jersey, the beach town lost even more beach, and more of its dune system that was replenished just three years ago by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Today, all that remained along Ortley Beach were cliffs as high as 10 feet tall, met by the ocean waves.
Large sections of Ortley Beach’s dune system were eroded, and in some spots, fencing fell into the sand below.
The Army Corps of Engineers has tentatively agreed to do another round of beach replenishment, but some argue that the Army Corp’s beach replenishment practices are the reason why some sections of the Jersey Shore are being eroded more quickly than others.
In nearby Island Beach, left in its natural state, there was no beach replenishment, and the beaches are wide. The dune systems are strong even after three major storms in 2022.
On Wednesday, Mayor Hill arrived in Ortley Beach to assess the damage at low tide where just about 50 feet or so of beach sand remained after the sharp 10-foot cliff in the dune system.
Hill hosted News 12 New Jersey for a photo op at the eroded beach site and said the township engineer and department of public works are assessing the damage.
Visitors are advised to avoid the area as it poses a significant risk of collapse and possible sinkholes after the passing storm.
“We are certain these sinkholes are a function of the Army Corps beach replenishment. From our standpoint, this work is performed in the cheapest, fastest way, not the safest. Their goal is to fulfill a contract, not to provide a safe, quality experience for the beach-going public,” said Ross Kushner of the New Jersey Coastal Alliance.
Kushner believes in New Jersey some of these problems could be avoided if the Army Corps of Engineers followed the law.
“These require that beach profiles not be altered by such work. Sadly, the Army Corps ignores these laws and the state of New Jersey looks the other way,” Kushner added.