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Grant will fund resiliency plan for 15 Two River towns

Eric Sucar

By Kenny Walter
Staff Writer

OCEANPORT- Several local municipalities will benefit from a federal grant to fund a 36-month study on sea-level rise and what can be done to improve resiliency and limit flooding.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the 15 municipalities comprising the Two River Council of Mayors a Regional
Coastal Resilience Grant that amounts to almost $900,000. The grant will be used to develop a regional plan to address the impacts of coastal hazards and storm surge.

“It is essentially a regional planning study and Oceanport is going to be the lead municipal partner on this,” Oceanport Mayor Jay Coffey said. “Instead of having each town figure out what it is going to do about flooding and the rise of sea level, this will be a regional approach.

“What this grant will allow us to do, is study what we can do regionally so we are not doing something that will affect someone else.”

According to a press release, the planning project, called New Jersey Fostering Regional Adaptation through Municipal Economic Scenarios (NJ FRAMES), partners the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Coastal Management Program with the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JC NERR), the Louis Berger Group, the Rutgers Climate Institute and Oceanport as the representative of the Two River Council of Mayors.

“Addressing flooding hazards for New Jersey’s coastal communities is a critical component of the Christie Administration’s plans to enhance flood resiliency statewide,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “The expertise of coastal scientists, combined with the input of affected communities and residents will help us identify these important next steps to be taken to protect this region from the effects of devastating floods.”

The 15 municipalities participating in the study are Eatontown, Fair Haven, Highlands, Little Silver, Long Branch, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Ocean Township, Oceanport, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Shrewsbury Borough, Tinton Falls and West Long Branch.

The state has hired Louis Berger, an engineering firm with locations in six continents, to conduct the study.

Coffey said the study will address concerns in all 15 municipalities that are part of the Two River Council of Mayors.

“At the end of the day we will have a regional planning study that we can make adaptations as a group instead of having each of us do our own thing,” Coffey said. “Louis Berger is going to take each of the 15 towns and try to figure what works best for everybody and provide us with a cost-benefit analysis of what should be done.”

Coffey said one of the main tenants of the study will be the impact of sea-level rise.

“We have a concern about sea-level rise and essentially this is a feasibility study for everyone in our region,” he said.

According to Coffey, the 15 municipalities do not have to match any portion of the grant financially. However, each municipality will have to provide in-kind services.

Coffey said the in-kind services may include making facilities available for public hearings and each town will make its municipal engineers available for assistance.

Projects recommended for funding by NOAA improve coastal risk assessment and
communication, promote collaborative approaches to resilience planning, and better inform
science-based decision-making and implementation.

Coffey credited former Oceanport mayor Michael Mahon for “leading the charge” in submitting and ultimately being awarded the grant.

For more information about NOAA’s Coastal Resilience Grants Program, visit
https://coast.noaa.gov/resilience-grant/.

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