By Maddy Vitale
Mounds of sand and silt have been removed from the bay in Somers Point over the last two months as part of a major dredging project for construction of a new city marina.
In about three days, the dredging will be complete, making way for what Somers Point officials are hoping will be the gem of the bay: a public marina, complete with 20 transient boat slips. Two additional slips will be used by the charter boat Duke O’ Fluke and an emergency vessel.
“The marina will encourage people to come by boat and use Bay Avenue,” said City Engineer Greg Schneider, who worked with other Somers Point officials to secure grants for the major project. “You could even stay overnight. It will also have hookups for water and electric and a pump-out for large boats. You can pay for the day for the electric and the water hookup, and everything is automated.”
On Tuesday, officials had a pre-construction meeting with Walters Marine Construction of Ocean View, the contractor building the marina, noted Schneider, of Mott Associates in Egg Harbor Township.
“It went well, and we got their schedule,” he added.
Here is a link to the rendering of the marina provided by Schneider:
Walters Marine Construction is scheduled to begin its work on March 25. Schneider said the company will start placing its equipment in the parking lot area next to the Gateway Playhouse to prepare for construction.
In the meantime, Wickberg Marine Contracting Inc. of Belford, N.J., is entering the final stretch of dredging work. On Wednesday morning, workers were mixing the dredging materials with cement to create a stronger material to be repurposed, Schneider said.
In total, the company, which began work Jan. 7, has removed nearly 8,000 cubic yards of sediment, comprised of about 60 percent sand and 40 percent silt, Schneider explained.
He said the clean materials are going to be repurposed in two ways.
Dredge materials are being taken to a disposal site off Route 559. Once the materials are deposited, soil will create an overlay and grasses will be planted. It will also help keep the tide back, so the road doesn’t flood. It is in an effort to make a living shoreline, Schneider said.
A new berm will be created for flood protection and also to get rid of phragmites, which are invasive. The phragmites will be replaced with native plant species.
The area is on the north side of Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, from the Garden State Parkway to the bridge over the Patcong Creek.
The remaining dredge materials will be used to raise the Gateway Marina parking lot, which is privately owned.
“Right now, the schedule is for the majority of work to be done by Memorial Day,” Schneider assured. “It is a tight schedule, but we are optimistic.”
Somers Point officials also have said much of the work will be done to give people a sneak peek of the marina during the city’s Bayfest celebration in April.
Various grants were secured to finance the marina. A $550,000 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation is being used for the dredging. About $200,000 of a $1.45 million National Boating Infrastructure Grant will help pay for the dredging, while the rest is for construction of the marina, Schneider explained. Rutala Associates, a local planning firm, secured the grants on behalf of the city.
The entire project, designed with the goal in mind to beautify the bayfront, was somewhat different than some other marina projects because of the way the dredge material was repurposed for other, environmentally friendly uses, Schneider said.
“Really, it is a unique project because we are using the material for something beneficial instead of it going to a landfill,” he said. “There have a been a couple of studies about beneficial uses. I don’t know other towns who have done it, but there have been private developers.”