Prominent Bay Head Resident Speaks Out Against Christie Plan
by Shawn Clayton
on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 at 10:33am.
Suffice it to say Bay Head residents still want no part of Gov. Chris Christie's plan to make beaches wider while building protective sand dunes along New Jersey's entire coastline of 127 miles.
To that end, residents of the Jersey Shores borough have raised $5 million from their own pockets to construct a rock wall to protect beaches and homes along the oceanfront. And Bay Head residents want to be exempt from Christie's coastline widening plan. In the Bellingham Herald, prominent Bay Head homeowner and major Republican Party fund raiser Lawrence Bathgate called the Governor's plan "stupid and wasteful". He told the paper "The science and economics don't support what they are doing. This sand will wash away in short order."
Christie's plan is an effort to curb damage should another Superstorm Sandy collide with the Jersey Shore. Bay Head and neighboring Mantoloking were two of the hardest hit areas in New Jersey. Statewide, Sandy damaged or destroyed 360,000 homes and businesses, at a staggering cost of nearly $37 billion.
Bay Head homeowners say a previous rock wall, built in the 1880s and buried beneath the sand dunes, saved many of their oceanfront homes from complete destruction during the storm, even though many were seriously damaged by the surging tides and gail force winds.
The state originally needed 2,850 public and private easements for Christie's project; that number is now down to 330 and a third of them are steadfast Bay Head holdouts like Bathgate, who used their own cash to get an new rock wall put in places that weren't covered. So they paid for new rocks to be installed in places that didn't have them.
Bay Head residents are also opposed to the easements because they last forever, with no way for owners to reclaim them if the project never gets built. In addition there is no legal guarantee the new beaches and dunes will be regularly maintained to replace sand lost to erosion, and many object to the state's stated intention to use eminent domain against holdouts.
Residents also argue the $21 million that would be used on the project's Bay Head segment would be better spent elsewhere in areas and boroughs greater needs. Bay Head residents maintain the work they did on their own has fully protected their town and that Christie is wrong.