How is Stafford changing?
Stafford is undergoing a housing boom, but what’s driving this sudden change?
Amanda Oglesby | Wochit, Asbury Park Press
STAFFORD – Six decades of silt and sand are filling in the lagoons on the eastern edges of Stafford, where waterfront homeowners are finding that navigating their boats to Manahawkin Bay is becoming increasingly difficult.
A new study by ACT Engineers of Robbinsville showed boat channels and lagoons in some sections of the township were less than 4 feet deep, where 6 feet is ideal for most recreational boats.
About 4,000 to 5,000 homes are within Stafford’s eastern, predominantly waterfront neighborhoods: Beach Haven West, Bonnet Island, Clear Bonnet, Mud City and Cedar Run, Mayor Gregory Myhre said.
“There are over 100 lagoons in Beach Haven West, so that makes us one of the largest, if not the largest, waterfront community in the entire state of New Jersey,” he told a crowd of about 300 residents who gathered Tuesday evening at Mill Creek Park to learn more about the dredging plan.
Stafford officials have started a permit process that, if granted, should give residents and the township the ability to dredge the lagoons, many of which have not been maintained since the first were dug in 1957. To obtain the permit, the township must seek approvals from numerous state and federal agencies, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“What we identified is there are 795,000 cubic yards of material above 6-foot mean lower low water (the average height of the lowest daily tide),” said ACT Engineers Vice President Eric Rosina. “The average dump truck that you see on the road holds about 20 yards. That’s approximately 40,000 trucks, roughly speaking.”
But trucking dredge material is so expensive that the township and its engineers are looking for less expensive alternatives, Rosina said. Trucking out the sand and silt for smaller jobs can cost as much as $100 per yard, he said. At that price, Stafford’s project could cost $79.5 million, according to an Asbury Park Press estimate.
By partnering with other agencies, Stafford officials hope to lower their costs for the project. Uncontaminated dredging silt is useful in nourishing marshlands, Rosina said. In addition, clean dredge sand is valuable for coastal resiliency and structural projects, he said.
Myhre said a cost estimate for the dredging project likely will not be available until next year, after the township has obtained permits and found partner agencies. The lagoon study cost the township roughly $400,000, he said.
Municipal Administrator Matthew von der Hayden said the permit process should be complete within a year.
“We’re looking at everything that we can do (to help these communities),” Myrhe said. “So we’re obviously open to suggestions.”
Amanda Oglesby is an Ocean County native who covers Brick, Barnegat and Lacey townships as well as the environment. She has worked for the Press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, [email protected] or 732-557-5701.
Source: Asbury Park