POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) — The private owners of a popular New Jersey beach are building a wall — and they’re paying for it, too.
Construction of a steel sea wall is underway along a section of the coast in Point Pleasant Beach owned by Jenkinson’s Pavilion.
The company sued the federal, state and local governments in 2014, resisting New Jersey’s insistence that nearly all its 127-mile shoreline be protected by sand dunes that proved helpful in mitigating damage from Superstorm Sandy.
It asserted that New Jersey lacked the legal authority to seize private property for the beach project.
Under a 2017 settlement, Jenkinson’s is building a steel wall near the boardwalk. It is covered in wood and does not block views of the ocean. Its cost has been estimated at $5 million to $6 million.
Local officials in Point Pleasant Beach said in approving the deal that it would provide “as good or better” protection as the dune project being carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That dune project has been built right up to the edge of the Jenkinson’s property, and covers the southern end of the borough.
The northern section of Point Pleasant Beach, where the sea wall is being constructed, is one of three beaches in New Jersey that have been exempted from New Jersey’s drive to build dunes along its entire coast. State officials have allowed Manasquan — on the other side of the Manasquan Inlet from Point Pleasant Beach — and Belmar to avoid building dunes.
Both those towns use what they call “portable dunes,” bulldozing large piles of sand up to the boardwalk each fall and flattening it back out in the spring before the summer beach season begins.
The beach in Point Pleasant Beach is wider than most others in New Jersey, and the wall is directly in front of the boardwalk, so it would not come into play in all but the strongest storms.
But most environmentalists oppose sea walls, saying they accelerate erosion.
“When there’s a storm surge, the steel transfers the wave energy downward, causing the beach to erode a lot quicker,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Dunes work better.”
A spokeswoman for Jenkinson’s, as well as the attorney representing it in the federal litigation, did not respond to requests for comment. The Army Corps and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection both declined comment.
In its lawsuit, Jenkinson’s objected to the permanent alteration of its beachfront, which is among the most popular at the Jersey Shore; the company said in court papers that 450,000 to 500,000 people a year buy badges to use its beach.