By Lauren Wanko
Ship Bottom residents Ted and Dorothy Jedziniak have called their oceanfront property home for 45 years, and while their neighbors are signing easements to let the Army Corps onto their properties to build sand dunes, the Jedziniaks say they won’t sign just yet.
“I would like just to have one word that in the easement we’re more then willing to sign. But just sign that there is no construction on the dune,” Dorothy Jedziniak said. “And the assignment could stay if they say the assignment is limited to work pertinent to this beach replenishment.”
Dorothy worries that bathrooms or concession stands will be built on her property to meet the demands of the busy, summer tourism season.
“You do have to keep a dune in front, there’s no question. Otherwise the ocean would come right in the house. But to do this without changing that wording, that’s risky,” she said.
Long Beach Township Mayor Joe Mancini disagrees.
“It says very specifically in the easement languages for the propose of dune replenishment, sand replenishment, dune grass, it does not say anything else. Easements are very specific. It’s like you going to the supermarket with a list of everything that you don’t want as opposed to the items that you do want,” Mancini.
Mancini says the DEP’s chief advisor sent him a letter addressing homeowners’ concerns.
“It states very specifically that it’s for the purpose of replenishing the dunes. No boardwalks, bathrooms, trailers will be left on your property. Very specific, but the holdouts don’t want to acknowledge that letter,” Mancini said.
Gov. Chris Christie made his position clear at a town hall last week.
“We’re gonna start calling these folks out in the next few weeks if they haven’t signed these easements to let us build the dunes,” Christie said.
Dorothy and Ted say they feel bullied.
“We’ve been to meetings,” Dorothy said. “Someone shouted from the audience, ‘Burn their houses down.’”
Dorothy isn’t concerned about losing her view to the 22-foot high sand dune, but she worries her property value will decrease.
“You go to the Carribbean, to Mexico, where do people go? Close to the water. This is very valuable, this oceanfront,” Dorothy said.
“It’s just the opposite. Since Sandy, homes that had no damage are worth a lot more then the homes that had damage,” Mancini said.
Meantime in Ship Bottom the Jedzinaks say they’ll continue to hold out on giving their signature until local officials meet them halfway.