Editor’s note: Neptune Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn sends us this letter regarding problems and delays in Ocean Grove’s Broadway drainage project:
There are a lot of issues, too, throughout Neptune and other built-out towns where the sewer mains are just too narrow to handle the volume of water. Around the corner from my house, Union Avenue between 33 and 8th, has that issue. The main runs out to and up Sixth and is shared with Neptune City and would be incredibly expensive to replace. And it doesnt help that the more asphalt use in development or redevelopment of homes and businesses means less area for rain to permeate the ground and enter our groundwater. That is another big cause of flooding in built-out towns.
Does anyone remember when Route 71 was torn up in 2006 to install the wiring for enhanced Verizon services (now Fios)? What Verizon thought was going to be a one-week job took almost all summer. (I had to keep driving my U-Haul through it as we had just bought the house.) When Verizon started digging, they found all kinds of weird, uncharted things, cobblestones and trolley tracks among them. Then the northbound lane of the road collapsed and had to be rebuilt from the sand up before Verizon could do their wiring. I would love to see underground utilities in the Grove, but what cans of worms would we be opening every time we tore up a street, even a small side street? The Grove is an antique town in the best and worst ways possible: national historic status and citizens who are active participants in preservation and restoration is the best, but not having construction drawings and schematics for everything from day one of the Grove’s sewer installation is one of the worst.
Right now, we’re waiting for the new concrete culvert. We, the Township, kept the contractor to opening only a certain amount of roadway before Labor Day to install lateral fittings we didn’t originally know we needed because there were already parking problems and we did not want to add to them. (Quite frankly, we had originally planned to be done by summer. That was before the contractor opened the road to start work.) That’s also why vehicles, equipment and supplies are stored on the Township-owned grass median – we weren’t losing parking spaces. For the last completed phase of this project, the Camp Meeting allowed us to use the South End parking lot, but that was in the off-season; clearly, that was not feasible during the work this beach season. That is why we needed to use the median. We think it’s ugly and miss the plantings, too.
This project has been ongoing since before I took office in 2007, or, basically, since I lived in the Grove. Fran Paladino is right when he says it was done backwards. I know that every member of every Township Committee that has been in office during the gigantic lifespan of this project wishes we could turn back the clock to when we started this project, reverse the order of the phases in which we’re doing the work and apply the engineering knowledge we have now. It’s hugely frustrating for everyone when we hit hurdles and barriers. We get that knot in our stomachs when we see forecasts for heavy rain, knowing Broadway will flood.
I understand the skepticism that we will get this right, but we will. We will then replant the medians and still make sure that Fletcher Lake’s sluice gate opens when necessary. But don’t take my word for it; let the results speak for themselves. Very soon, we will not have flooding on Broadway.
– Mary Beth Jahn