Stone Harbor Council Meeting Summary for January 19, 2021
At Council’s work session, Borough Administrator Robert Smith reviewed the January 6, 2021 letter from the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association (SHPOA) to the Mayor and Council regarding bay maintenance. SHPOA recommended a review of the best practices and lessons learned from the 2016-17 dredging project summarized in its 2017 letter. The Borough agreed that there are many lessons to learn from the last dredging project and would be taken into consideration in planning future dredging projects. SHPOA recommended that the Borough begin work on drafting the dredging maintenance contract for use in the bid process so we are prepared to do maintenance dredging.
This recommendation was included in the discussion on the timing of dredging, which also included these other items:
- •Identify funding sources. In 2020, the Borough implemented a dedicated property tax of $.01 to be used to build reserves for future sustainability needs, including bay maintenance. Stone Harbor is one of the few communities to have a dedicated funding source for beach and bay management. The Borough plans to continue building reserves to finance projects. (It should be noted that in her 2019 presentation to SHPOA members, Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour said there could be a second $.01 dedicated tax.)
- •Investigate the recent Wetlands Institute/Army Corps pilot program to see if the smaller quantities of spoils generated by maintenance dredging can be used to regenerate local marshlands.
- •Look at scheduling maintenance dredging before basin infilling requires a major dredging contract – probably before 2022. The Borough administrator noted that maintenance dredging would not be necessary this year, based on the evaluations of experts at the Wetlands Institute and Stockton University’s Coastal Research Center. The administrator said the Borough would continue to monitor conditions and dredge when appropriate. The current view of those experts was that dredging may not be required in 2022 as well. SHPOA and the Borough will continue to engage in productive discussions regarding bay maintenance and related financing.
The Cape May County Herald published a story on the dredging discussion which can be found here.
Also of interest is the Cape May County Hazard Mitigation Plan https://www.capemaycounty2020hmp.com/draft-plans/ which is now undergoing public review. The draft plan contains Stone Harbor-specific sections.
After taking input from members of the public, the mayor said SHPOA should continue to have a Council liaison. Council plans to draw up an ordinance setting out procedures for appointing Council liaisons to civic groups, such as SHPOA. The mayor previously expressed concerns that SHPOA would have access to the government that other groups did not.
The Borough has liaisons with the Chamber of Commerce and the Stone Harbor Museum. SHPOA has worked with Councilmember Reese Moore, who kept it updated on important issues.
Bad Weather Alarm and Paddle Tennis
In other matters, Council said it would make a final decision on whether to relocate a storm alarm at its Feb. 2 meeting. Council also discussed installing four paddle tennis courts which could cost more than $300,000 – about twice the amount estimated last December. Council wants more accurate cost projections before moving forward.
A recording of the full meeting can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPAkjdkwq4E&feature=youtu.be
If you are not already a member of SHPOA and own property in Stone Harbor, please join SHPOA by clicking https://www.stoneharborpoa.org/join/