Sandy-damaged coastal communities from Manasquan to the Barnegat Inlet are learning through media sources that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not be starting a massive beach replenishment project in June.

Toms River dunes
Toms River dunes (Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media NJ)

Communities along New Jersey's Northern Barrier Island have been told to expect work to begin some time after the summer, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the Army Corps.

"Very frankly, I'm disappointed," said Toms River mayor Tom Kelaher. "I'm going to try and find out what the reason is. When the Army Corps agreed to do this, they were anxious to get started in June because they wanted to get the work done before the hurricane season."

It's no secret that communities along New Jersey's coast have been engaged in a very public battle to get signed easements from beachfront property owners, allowing contractors access to their properties. However, Kelaher said that should not be a factor in this case.

"We have all but ten easements, and if we don't have them within weeks we're prepared to go to eminent domain," Kelaher said, "so that will be done by the deadline they had originally given us."

Here is the Army Corps' written statement:

We're currently working through requirements to get the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Coastal Storm Risk Management project ready for construction. These steps include completing a thorough review of the project; coordinating with environmental resource agencies; and working with our sponsor on the necessary agreements. Building these projects is complex and takes time, but we understand the urgency and are working as quickly as we can to get the project to construction status. We do not have a revised schedule to release at this time, but it is not likely construction would begin before the fall timeframe."

However, Kelaher said the longer the work is postponed, the more the township will have to pay to maintain dunes that are currently in place. During Tuesday night's council meeting, Toms River council members authorized a $347,000 contract to hire a company to bring in more sand to repair dunes on its north beaches.

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