SEA BRIGHT: The borough's upcoming sea wall project could be underway soon as the courts have ruled in the favor the New Jersey Department Of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
NJDEP Spokesman Larry Hajna said an Appellate Court judge ruled at the end of March that the NJDEP's choice of J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc. was indeed capable of handling the sea wall reconstruction project in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach.
In October 2016, Agate Construction, one of the other bidders for the project, submitted a letter protesting the award of the bid to Creamer, stating that Creamer's prior projects were not similar enough to work necessary to complete the sea wall construction project. DEP Assistant Commissioner David Rosenblatt reviewed the challenge and determined that Creamer did have sufficient experience, but also created a committee to review the "stone setting qualifications of all the bidders," an aspect of the work that was challenged by Agate.
On Dec. 20, Rosenblatt, after reviewing the committee's findings, issued a final decision awarding the contract to Creamer. On Dec. 29, Agate filed an appeal, asking the DEP to stay the contract, which the DEP later denied. However, Agate then took the case to court and the matter was adjudicated in the Appellate Division of Superior Court.
Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when raging storm tides destroyed beach clubs, homes and businesses and displaced and eroded portions of the seawall. In areas where there was a break in the seawall, the surging flood tides inundated the low-lying communities, causing extensive damage.
Last year, FEMA obligated $28,358,886 in additional grant funding for the repair of the Hurricane Sandy-damaged seawall in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, bringing the total FEMA funding obligated for the project to date to $31,344,834. That amount represents 90 percent of the total project cost of $34,827,594. The State of New Jersey will fund the remaining 10 percent.
Hajna said a start date for the project will likely be announced "sometime next week."
Once the court makes its decision, the project will begin in the north beach section of Sea Bright and work will progress south. Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni has said work will not be done at the main beach area during the summer months.