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May Dredging Project Status Update

The dredging project effort continues to move forward, albeit slowly. Two direct meetings have been held with Middle Township Business Administrator, Connie Mahon since the April 15th Township working group meeting many of you graciously attended. Connie is the Middle Township lead for this effort and has evidenced interest and expended effort in exploring solutions.

The dredge committee explored an invitation to the May 20, 2013 Township Committee working group session for status and fact finding and were advised that the township staff had all the relevant facts they needed at this time and that they require more review opportunity before supporting another public forum. Township’s activities are currently in research and information gathering mode of State and perhaps Federal Government funding support for the Avalon Manor dredging effort.

As an example, Committee leads Tom Dwyer and Mike Sowers attended a Connie Mahon organized Avalon Manor site meeting on May 9th with Mr., David Dempsey of Dewberry Consultants. Dewberry Consultants is a State of New Jersey DEP contractor engaged to examine the Sandy storm shore area land based debris removal efforts and water way impacts. At the site meeting, Mr. Dempsey was provided a tour of the Avalon Manor water way conditions. Commitments for addressing the Avalon Manor water way issues was not provided, however, Mr. Dempsey reviewed Leonard’s Throrofare, South Channel and the mouth of Sterback Harbor for shoaling deposits. He will forward these sites to DEP for potential shoaling sediment removal consideration. State shoaling deposit relief, if approved, is not to be confused with the full dredging project, which remains on the table. The site visit did result in a commitment for some land based clean up of Sandy storm generated debris.

Connie Mahon has made and continues to make multiple information outreach calls to State DEP and other related State and county officials and is gathering knowledge and direction from each communication. Participation with Avalon in their dredge project currently appears limited. Discovery has yielded that Avalon has title to the temporary dredge spoils site at Macchia Island along with the intended temporary access roadway to the site. Avalon’s removal of temporary dredge spoils within Middle Township remains one of other open issues for discussion. In Avalon’s current plan they have evidenced a need for the full dredge capacity of the site. The dredge committee will continue to encourage dialogue between the two municipalities to, hopefully, discover an opportunity for Avalon Manor’s inclusion.

The dredge committee membership has independently embarked on an information gathering exercise to understand how other NJ State shore municipalities address their back bay and channel waterway dredging activities. The results of this exercise will be shared when completed.

In a related Avalon Manor government relations activity, the issues of ABEF flood plain elevations within Avalon Manor were brought Connie Mahon’s attention and her direct response to Dredge Committee Chairman, Tom Dwyer is provided below:

I attended many meetings regarding this issue and spoke to Congressman LoBiondo during his recent visit to Middle Township. At last week’s meeting of the Cape May County League of Municipalities I arranged for Dr. Stewart Farrell to speak to elected officials on this very topic. At this very informative meeting, Dr. Farrell explained his position on overland wave propagation as it relates to bayside communities, etc. It is our position that the ABFE maps are flawed and that this very important scientific data was ignored. Our construction office is currently working with NJDEP Flood and Dam Management to create our Model Flood Ordinance and utilizing the ABFE Maps as guideline ONLY and fully anticipating changes to said mapping before the FIRMS are released. It is expected that with input from all of the coastal communities (of which I am working with) the FIRM maps that come out in October or November will be far less restrictive and eliminate many of the ABFE V zones. I am working with Dr. Farrell, our County Freeholders, local officials and others in a collective effort to effectuate changes to the ABFE maps. Of course, Congressman LoBiondo is a key component to the success of this fight. I estimate that we will have a formal letter to him late next week. I have scheduled a meeting with our planner and the construction office to finalize the letter.

On another note, I have spent most of this week researching the possible dredging of Avalon Harbor as promised. I am making good progress and appreciate your patience.

Connie Mahon’s and Middle Township’s interest and posture in the FEMA flood mapping is much appreciated. The Avalon Manor dredging committee wants you to know that your participation at the April 15th meeting had a significant positive impact to help move the yard stick forward for these important Avalon Manor issues. We ask for your continued support as it is a possibility your attendance/participation may be requested at a future Township Meeting. Please support these initiatives by joining the Avalon Manor Improvement Association. A membership form can be found at your association’s webpage (Avalon-Manor.com). If any Avalon Manor property owner wishes to participate actively with dredging committee work please reach out to one of the contacts listed below:

Tom Dwyer: 215.407.5202
Mike Sowers: 609.518.7185
Dave Spangler 610.637.4763

Please see our original presentation to Middle Township for more background on the matter.

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