North Wildwood’s Stalled Bulkhead

The city of North Wildwood is planning to build an $800,000 steel bulkhead on the beach near 15th Avenue to better protect residents and homes from storms. The city is home to about 5,000 residents and attracts up to 40,000 visitors each summer.

However, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) blocked the city’s emergency request to build the bulkhead, citing no immediate threat to life or property.

North Wildwood’s Stalled Bulkhead

North Wildwood’s Stalled Bulkhead

The city’s mayor, Rosenello, disagrees and believes that reinforcements are necessary due to the increasing frequency of nor’easters and the impact of Hurricane Ian.

Rosenello says that the bulkhead is needed to protect the city’s sanitary system and a nearby lifeguard station.

Those who have been to the beach since October would have noticed that the existing dune system in front of the lifeguard station is practically gone.

What used to be a 30-foot-wise dune has now been reduced to only ten feet. This is past the midpoint of the dune which means that if one or two storms hammer it hard, we could see the ocean run right through it.

The DEP has asked the Superior Court to end the work by filing a request for a temporary injunction. The city is due in court to make a case for why the injunction should not be imposed.

The initial plans were for a 400-foot steel bulkhead, which could be extended to up to 1,000 feet due to the deterioration of the sand dune.

Also See: North Wildwood Sues New Jersey For $21 Million

This extended bulkhead would follow the Wildwood Boardwalk and end just north of Morey’s Surfside Pier (25th).

The state initially denied the city’s request to build the bulkhead, stating that it was necessary to prevent permanent harm to the environment, including vegetated dunes, exceptional freshwater wetlands, and critical wildlife habitats.

Despite this, Rosenello claims that North Wildwood has already built 2,000 feet of a bulkhead in the same area without DEP authorization and if anything it saved millions of dollars of property, public and private.

The city has spent up to $20 million in taxpayer money for those coastal protection efforts in the past decade due to stronger storms resulting from climate change.

North Wildwood has reportedly experienced the highest rate of beach and dune erosion in the state since the mid-1990s and the bulkhead is seen as a crucial step in protecting the city and its residents.

Many visitors would remember back in 2003, the beach used to be four times its size. Since the stoppage of the dredging of Hereford Inlet and nature changes, North Wildwood’s beaches have seen their sand pushed all the way to Wildwood and Wildwood Crest.

As many local officials have stated, if nothing is done it will cost the taxpayers more money to fix the damage than it would have been if they just put a bulkhead up.

The Wildwood Video Archive toured the now stalled section of the bulkhead to show viewers where we currently stand.

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