By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City is moving ahead with a dredging program to remove muddy sediment that is clogging some of its most popular channels and lagoons along the picturesque back bays.
City Council voted 4-0 to award a $944,892 contract Tuesday for the project to SumCo Eco-Contracting of Peabody, Mass. Councilman Jack Gibson abstained from voting because he lives on Venicean Road, one of the areas that is part of the contract.
The city has indicated dredging will begin in the fall.
Dredging will deepen the lagoon that serves the Sea Isle City Municipal Marina on 42nd Place. In summer, the marina’s waterway bustles with private, commercial and sightseeing boats heading to the back bays and ocean.
The project will also include dredging along private waterfront properties adjacent to 38th Street and Sounds Avenue and along Venicean Road, according to the contract.
According to plans, the city will work with the Yacht Club of Sea Isle City on Venicean Road and homeowners in the area of 38th Street and Sounds Avenue so that they can have their boat slips dredged.
The Yacht Club and homeowners would pay for dredging their boat slips, but will be able to save money by piggybacking on the city’s dredging permits. The process would relieve them of some of the costs and headaches of doing the dredging work on their own, including finding a disposal site for the sediment, city officials say.
“Just as we did with our last dredging project in 2012 and 2013, the administration worked with our property owners to help secure the necessary permits to accomplish not only the city areas, but also adjacent private areas in need of dredging,” Mayor Leonard Desiderio told the Council members during their meeting Tuesday.
As Sea Isle has done since March, the Council meeting was held by teleconference in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Desiderio noted that throughout New Jersey, it can be a “difficult task” for municipalities and homeowners to secure dredging permits and to find areas where sediment removed from waterways may be safely disposed of while meeting environmental requirements.
“But we have worked for years in partnership with our residents, and state and federal agencies at the DEP and Army Corps to get this done and keep our waterways clear to ensure the viability of our back bays,” he said.
Sea Isle’s bayfront lagoons come alive in the summer season as a haven for boats, kayaks, paddleboards and personal watercraft such as Jet Skis.
However, the buildup of muddy sediment has clogged some of the city’s most popular waterways, including the channel next to the Yacht Club.
Jim Collins, general manager of the Yacht Club, said in an interview in August that some boats have actually gotten stuck in the mud at low tide while trying to navigate the adjacent channel.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few boats get stuck at low tide,” Collins said.
The Yacht Club has a total of 32 boat slips, but only 12 will be dredged as part of the project. The 12 slips overlook the waterway that will be dredged in front of the club, Collins noted.
Collins explained that the channel next to the Yacht Club should be 8 feet deep, but seems to be much shallower, resulting in boats getting caught in the mud during low tide from time to time.
“We certainly have a need to get that dredging done,” he said while thanking the city for the project.