By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City is lining up the financing for a series of capital improvements that will enhance the beaches and bayfront and also provide more protection from flooding by upgrading the roads and drainage systems.
Three bond ordinances totaling $10 million have been introduced by City Council to provide funding for the projects this year.
Among the big-ticket items, Sea Isle will spend $2.1 million to replenish its beaches. This will be the first cycle of beach replenishment as part of a 50-year program of shoreline restoration in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Sea Isle had originally planned on replenishing the beaches in 2020, but decided to move the project ahead for this year, City Business Administrator George Savastano said. The work is scheduled to get underway in the fall or winter.
Improvements to the shoreline will also include the purchase of more of the popular beach mats that make it easier for people to walk across the thick, powdery sand. The city has committed to placing the mats at the entrance to each beach.
Another major project in the capital plan is a new $1 million fishing pier and kayak launch site on the bayfront. Sea Isle will pay for the upfront costs for the project. However, Cape May County has approved a grant for the project and will reimburse Sea Isle for the cost, Savastano said.
The fishing pier and kayak launch site will be built along the water’s edge behind the city’s Dealy Field athletic and recreation complex near 60th Street. Parking is already available at the site.
Sea Isle hopes to begin construction on the pier project this year. A completion date has not yet been announced.
The boardwalk-style pier will extend 132 feet out into the bay. The center section will serve as the fishing pier. Another part will branch off for a “passive pier” featuring a covered pavilion. There will also be a dock for a handicap-accessible launch facility for kayaks and paddleboards.
In another bayfront project, the city is planning to spend $812,000 to dredge some of the shallow lagoons. Previously, the city announced that the municipal marina along 42nd Place and the bayfront at the Yacht Club of Sea Isle City are two primary areas scheduled for dredging.
The capital plan also includes a series of drainage and road improvements scattered across town to reduce flooding on the low-lying barrier island. Altogether, the city plans to spend about $1.8 million on road and drainage construction.
Sea Isle is in the final stages of building its first pumping station as another flood-fighting tool. The project is being done at the bay end of 38th Street in a flood-prone neighborhood. Pumping stations are able to remove stormwater off the streets faster once flooding occurs.
A flood-mitigation study competed last year recommends that Sea Isle should build more pumping stations in neighborhoods vulnerable to stormwater. In all, there are 10 areas that are seen as strong candidates for pumping stations. Since eight of those areas are part of the county-controlled drainage system, the city plans to work with the county on funding for more pumping stations, Savastano said.
The capital plan also includes an assortment of maintenance projects, city equipment and new vehicles, including the purchase of a trash truck and an ambulance.
Improvements to the city’s water and sewer systems, at a total cost of nearly $2 million, will also be done under the capital plan. Savastano explained that the city continues to replace old water and sewer pipes across town.