By Lauren Wanko
Nearly eight months since Sandy hammered Mantoloking, destroying an estimated one third of the Ocean County community’s housing stock, local officials decided to name the five homeowners who refuse to sign easements required for the Army Corps beach replenishment project.
The borough’s special counsel Chris Nelson said, “We’ve talked about it for six, seven months and I think the rest of the community wants to know … who in the community is holding things up and making things difficult.”
Nelson says the borough is determined to move forward with the Army Corps plans. Mantoloking is working with outside counsel and the state on legal options.
There are 128 oceanfront lots in Mantoloking. Marilyn D’Alessandro owns one of those properties, and she didn’t think twice about signing the easement.
“I want to be able to protect our house and protect the ocean, protect the whole town of Mantoloking,” she said.
None of the holdouts could be reached for an interview.
“Look, it’s really their own personal decision,” said Nelson. “We gave them all the information that they need to understand about the project and what’s gonna happen specifically to their properties. The easement itself is now very specific and what it says towards the end, it says no structures that are not part of the project are included. And basically what that means is that there is going to be no boardwalks, bicycle paths, ferris wheels or anything else that’s going to be allowed as part of the Army Corps project.”
D’Alessandro thinks some holdouts may worry about losing their view.
“There’s plenty of ocean out there to see,” D’Alessandro said. “I think they’re being very selfish. I think they should sign because it’s the whole town, the whole state of New Jersey, that’s gonna benefit from it.”
Chris Nelson agrees the Army Corps project is vital, and not just to the Ocean County Community.
He said, “It’s not only protecting us as a community in Mantoloking, it’s protecting the folks in the back bay area and the state of New Jersey, not only from people getting their homes flooded but for the huge economic cost that costs the state.
The borough hopes the Army Corps project will begin before the end of the year. Meantime, local officials are working with the state to establish a temporary protective measure on the beach that will eventually fold into the Army Corps project.