By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City is planning to install more of the popular beach mats this summer, saving everyone from the trouble of having to trudge all the way through the thick, powdery sand.
There will be Mobi-Mats at every one of Sea Isle’s lifeguard-protected beaches, city officials said.
Under the 2019 capital plan, the city will spend $100,000 to buy more of the handicap-accessible mats as it moves toward the ultimate goal of having them at every beach block between 29th and 92nd streets, City Business Administrator George Savastano said.
Members of City Council discussed the importance of the mats during their meeting Tuesday. The Mobi-Mats make it much easier for beachgoers – especially senior citizens and people with disabilities – to traverse the sand.
“So, do we have enough money to put mats at all streets?” Councilman Frank Edwardi asked Savasatano.
“It appears we’re in good shape,” Savastano replied.
The non-slip mats look like bright blue carpet strips from a distance. They lie on top of the sand, providing an easier transition from the gravel pathways over the dunes to the beaches.
Sea Isle already has the mats at its six handicap-accessible beaches at 32nd Street, 40th Street, John F. Kennedy Boulevard, 44th Street, 63rd Street and 85th Street. During the summer of 2018, the mats were also placed at intervals of about every three blocks between 29th and 91st streets.
The mats do not extend the entire width across the beach. At the handicap-accessible beaches, for instance, they average about 70 feet long.
After listening to complaints from local residents about the difficulties of walking through the deep beach sand, City Council and Mayor Leonard Desiderio’s administration agreed to buy more of the Mobi-Mats in 2018 and are getting even more for this summer.
A $40 million beach replenishment project supervised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 and 2016 beautified Sea Isle’s shoreline with nearly 3 million cubic yards of pristine new sand. However, the wider beaches are harder to walk on, especially for senior citizens or disabled people who struggle to navigate through the sand.
Ever since the replenishment project was completed, Sea Isle has concentrated on maintaining the gravel pathways that cross over the dunes to provide easy access to the beaches. But local residents have been calling for the city to install more Mobi-Mats to make their treks across the beach even easier.
Savastano explained to the Council members Tuesday that some of the beaches have become depleted by storms and natural erosion and will need to be restored again. The next beach replenishment cycle by the Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled for the fall of 2019, he said.
The most seriously eroded beaches generally are between 30th and 45th streets and just south of 85th Street, Savastano noted.
In the interim, the city will do maintenance work on the beaches and consider short-term measures to replenish the depleted spots. One way of doing that is by harvesting sand from other beaches that are not eroded.
Savastano said the city is reluctant to move sand around because it could be washed away during winter storms. He prefers to wait until the spring to allow the beaches to replenish naturally, with the help of the tides.
“We really need to see the condition of the beaches in the spring,” Savastano said in an interview. “The beaches usually build up in the spring with the natural flow of the tides and the movement of sand.”