Beach & Bay
Review of 2016/2107 Stone Harbor Dredging Operation
The Stone Harbor Property Owners Association (SHPOA) Beach and Bay Committee’s Annual Work Plan identified the need to have a report, which would review the successes and lessons learned from the recently completed Bay Dredging Project. The report was presented to the Borough December 15,2017 to be used as a reference for the Borough to help guide and improve future Bay Dredging Projects.
SHPOA has summarized the critical findings in its review of the Dredging Project as follows:
Dredging of the SH Basins and Bays is a maintenance activity and needs to be financed and scheduled on a regular and routine basis. Just like the sweeping of streets and replenishment of sand on the beach, funding should be identified in the “pay as you go” operating budget of SH and accumulated in a dedicated fund earmarked for dredging activities. Use of debt financing (bonds) for maintenance activities is not appropriate or sustainable for our Borough. Dredging is crucial to the efficient outflow of tides and transport of storm water and to the vitality of water transport and boating recreation. Monitoring of sediment infill data identifies where and how often dredging should be scheduled. Research by the Stockton University’s Coastal Resource Center, the Wetlands Institute and others should be utilized to schedule dredging. Waiting every ten years to dredge is too long a cycle and creates dredge quantities that are expensive and difficult to dispose of and limits effective hydraulic performance of the Basin & Bays.
The Bay Dredging Project started in the fall of 2015 and was completed in May 2017. It was a multi-phase project performed by the contractor, Sevenson Environmental Services. The contractor was forced to change the method used for dewatering the dredged material and ultimately the method of dredging in Phase 1. Despite these setbacks, the project was essentially completed on time. Reports to date indicate that the project was completed under the $11 MM budget. This may be due to improved efficiency of the changed methods or primarily because there was less cubic yards of dredge material needed to be removed than originally projected (86,074 vs. 102,940 cubic yards). Most importantly, the dredging elevation goals were achieved and verified by surveying and sonic readings. The contractor should be commended for consistent communication with the Borough including weekly electronic updates which were available on the borough website. An additional benefit of the bay dredging was that a small amount of de-watered sand from the dredge material was recycled to the Stone Harbor beaches in phase 1 of the project.
What Didn’t Work
Although not limited to this bay-dredging project, the recent bay-dredging project was not budgeted as an operating expense by the Borough and money was borrowed to fund the work. The project was financed by bonds which is a financing option most commonly used for the financing of capital assets having a long useful life commensurate with the financing term. This will be discussed further in the recommendations section and justifies the need for a long term Borough financing plan. An unfortunate result of the entire bay dredging process was the thousands of heavy truckloads that hauled material (sand and cement) on to and off the island. The trucks overloaded Borough streets and bridges and may have contributed to the 96th street bridge failure. Asphalt, underground utilities, air quality, and noise were all negatively impacted. This was a result of the amount of dredged material and no local regional disposal site. Before the next dredging, this entire process should be reviewed for efficiency, cost containment, and practicality. The need to turn the marina areas into an industrial worksite was necessary but unfortunate. Homeowners in SH and