Ocean Grove. The next day. Oct. 30, 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo
By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger
After consulting with a well known dune scientist and other experts, an “engineered design” was developed for rebuilding OG’s dunes, and that project will begin next week. The main purpose of the dunes will be to protect the OG beachfront and the town itself from future storms.
This announcement was made by J.P. Gradone, the COO of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, and we also interviewed Bill Bailey, the CMA Director of Operations, who has been the point man for all the post-Sandy work that we have been witnessing during the last two years.
Stewart Farrell, our dune consultant, is a scientist who is the Director of the Richard Stockton Coastal Research Center. He has been studying the Jersey Shore for nearly 30 years. Farrell walked our beach to assess elevations and sand loss immediately after Sandy hit. Then, he returned in March, 2013, to hit the beach again with Bill Bailey and to begin discussions of dune planning. Two weeks ago he returned to help finalize the plans for rebuilding the dunes here in the Grove.
After Sandy devastated the Shore, Farrell said that the beaches which had received prior replenishment from the Army Corps of Engineers and which had the highest and widest dunes had the least amount of damage.
In Ocean Grove, the places where there were no bulkheads and where openings in the dunes let in the storm flood (“the funnel effect,”) there was the most boardwalk destruction. Our dunes had been developing for 25 years, and they offered a good measure of protection for the town during Sandy, “getting us through some high tides. “
Except for the beach and board damage, however, Ocean Grove didn’t do too badly from Sandy compared to the damage elsewhere such as in Mantoloking and Harvey Cedars. Besides the dunes, we were additionally protected by bulkheads, where they existed north and south, and also because Ocean Grove is among a relatively small number of Shore towns ( including Long Branch, Asbury Park and Cape May) that are on the mainland, as opposed to barrier islands which are much more vulnerable.
Our dune project will begin next week with excavation. A 25 foot wide space will be created north to south between the boardwalk and the back of the dunes. This will allow vehicles to get through.
The new dune will be made from existing and excavated sand and it will be 32 feet wide (east to west.). The height will be four feet, in contrast to giant dunes, over 20 feet in some locations, which are being constructed in more vulnerable places at the Shore.
Our dune is designed to be a continuum of about 1,000 feet, with “cuts” that zigzag through to allow access to the beach. Eventually there will be “walk-overs” that allow access “over the top” of the dunes. If a big storm is expected, those “cuts” can be filled in.
Snow fences will be installed on the east and west sides of the dune. The latter will prevent sand from blowing onto the boardwalk and Ocean Avenue; an extra benefit will be to keep people off. The former will be important in “catching sand” to make the dunes denser and bigger over time.
Since dune grass does best if planted in November, the CMA will wait until next year to plant the grass, and Mr. Farrell has laid out suggestions as to how to do that in terms of spacing. Over time, the root systems of the dune grass will help “fortify” the dune.
Note that the beach replenishment made the beach bigger. It is now 12 feet above sea level, so adding that to the 4 foot engineered dunes yields a dune height of 16 feet, just slightly higher than the 15.5 foot elevated boardwalk.
In summary, Ocean Grove will be protected by a “series of engineered systems” starting with the beach replenishment, then the dunes, then the reinforced bulkhead which is a complex structure tied into the east side of the boardwalk, coupled with the relocation of the middle boardwalk west, about 30 feet. And finally there are the strong construction methods that were used in building the boardwalk itself.
Bill Bailey says, “As promised, we built it right.”
In May, the existing metal bulkhead was tied into new wood construction which later was bolted to the new boardwalk. Blogfinger photo
For those in government and for scientists such as Stewart Farrell, they know that the Jersey shore will be increasingly vulnerable in the future due to rising ocean levels and continued erosion of sand from the beaches, coupled with more severe storms. The Army Corps has been back to the Jersey shore many times during the last 60 years or so, and hopefully the government will stay involved in the future.
A private contractor will do the work, and it should be noted that the dune construction is being financed entirely by the OGCMA.
For Ocean Grove, we have reason to be optimistic as to how well we will do when the next big storm hits. Bill Bailey is quick to credit the “experts” who collaborated in the design of this fortress construction and he also loves to tell how a Boy Scout, Bobby Easton, working on an Eagle project about 20 years ago, and assisted by his friend Dave Shotwell, Jr., came up with the notion that sand dunes in the Grove could help protect the town. Well, it turns out that the idea was successful; it just took a couple of decades to prove the point.
Note: Excellent related article from the New Yorker magazine: link to “The Beach Builders.”