Dredging Program to Help Boat Slip Owners on Ocean City’s Back Bays

first_imgIn 2018, the plan calls for $4 million worth of dredging projects to clear out the shallow lagoons along the back bays. (Courtesy Ocean City Public Information Office) By Donald WittkowskiAt low tide, Pam and Chris Pippett know that their 24-foot boat isn’t going anywhere because it is literally trapped in the mud at their bayfront home.They also know that once they get their boat out on the water, they have to head home within two hours of low tide or risk not being able to get back through the shallow lagoon.“That’s our boat slip – absolutely stuck in the mud,” Pam Pippett said while showing a cellphone photo of the lagoon, known as Carnival Bayou.But the Pippetts, a married couple who live on West 17th Street, may soon get some relief as part of a program by Ocean City to help private property owners dredge their sediment-choked boat slips.The plan, outlined by Mayor Jay Gillian and other officials Thursday night during a public meeting, would allow property owners to piggyback on the city’s dredging permit to save them some of the expense and aggravation of cleaning out their slips on their own.In a related development, Gillian announced that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has extended the period for dredging statewide by five months, giving property owners even more time to complete the work on their slips.“This is a big break for Ocean City and all the residents on the bay and in other shore towns,” the mayor said in a statement. “The extension of the dredge season not only benefits Ocean City, but all shore communities dealing with silted waterways.”Mayor Jay Gillian announces that the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has extended the dredging season, giving more time for bayfront property owners to clear out their sediment-choked boat slips.Previously, dredging was allowed only from July to October, coming to a halt on Nov. 1. However, the DEP will now allow dredging work to continue from July to March. The short window between July and October under the old regulations proved to be a challenge for dredging operations throughout the state, officials said.“This really means that you’re going to have much more time for the contractor to do private slip dredging,” Carol Beske, an executive with the city’s dredging consultant, ACT Engineers Inc., told property owners at Thursday’s meeting.The city’s new program for dredging private boat slips is voluntary for property owners. Instead of going through the hassles of hiring their own dredging contractors, they could simply use the ones who are already working for the city. The contractors would work on the private slips after they’ve finished the city’s dredging projects.City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said the program would save the property owners from the obligation of obtaining their own dredging permits. They would also be able to use the city’s disposal site for dredge spoils, instead of having contractors haul the stuff away somewhere else.Under the program, the dredging contractors will pay the city $200 for each private property they do. Property owners, in turn, would pay the contractor $100 per cubic yard of dredge spoils removed from their boat slips. The property owners would also pay $3 per cubic yard of dredge material that is removed as part of an escrow account that will allow the city to conduct inspections of the dredging work.The city began the first round of dredging last year as part of a $20 million program proposed by Mayor Jay Gillian for 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2017, the town plans to spend $7.5 million for dredging projects, said Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer.Carnival Bayou, between 16th and 17th streets, is one of three major dredging projects planned by the city this fall. South Harbor, between Tennessee Avenue and Spruce Road, and Sunny Harbor, between Arkansas Avenue and Walnut Road, are the other two.Residents who live along Carnival Bayou, South Harbor and Sunny Harbor would be eligible for the dredging program this year. The city hopes to extend the program to other boat slip owners when it expands the dredging projects to other bayfront lagoons next year.At Thursday night’s meeting, residents look at renderings that depict the lagoons scheduled to be dredged this year.The city has permits for the dredging projects at Carnival Bayou, South Harbor and Sunny Harbor this year. Last December, the city applied for a permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct dredging along the entire length of the island.The Army Corps has opened the public comment period for the citywide permit application. Beske urged property owners at Thursday’s meeting to write letters and emails to the Army Corps in favor of the application. The comment period is open until Nov. 15.Hundreds of bayfront property owners along Carnival Bayou, South Harbor and Sunny Harbor are eligible to participate in the dredging program. City officials repeatedly stressed that residents are not obligated to join the program.“We can’t compel anyone to join this program. It’s completely voluntary,” McCrosson told the approximately 100 bayfront residents who attended the meeting at the Ocean City Tabernacle.While some of the residents said they are still thinking about participating in the dredging program, Pam and Chris Pippett noted they are signing up. They are hopeful they will finally be free of the muck and mire surrounding their two boat slips.Chris Pippett said he once allowed a neighbor to use one of the slips for free. However, the neighbor decided to take his boat elsewhere because the slip was so badly clogged with sediment, Pippett said.“It’s nothing but mud at low tide,” Pippett said. “We know that we can’t take our boat out two hours on either side of low tide.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *