Jersey Shore Town Won’t Rebuild Its Sand Dunes

MANASQUAN, N.J. (AP) -

Another Jersey shore town that was pummeled by Superstorm Sandy has decided the ocean views are worth more than the protection of sand dunes.

Manasquan’s dunes were washed away in the October 2012 storm. And despite assertions by many coastal experts that the dunes prevented the damage from being even worse, borough officials have decided not to rebuild them.

They say rebuilt dunes wouldn’t give that much more protection, and that a recently widened beach will add some security. And some residents say they like being able to see the ocean from their homes again — despite warnings from some experts that they are playing with fire.

“This is a monumental decision the town has made,” Mayor George Dempsey said. “We’ll have to wait and see if we made the right one.”

The Monmouth County town of 6,300 has long been popular with vacationing families and year-round residents drawn to its mile-long beach and asphalt-paved beach walk. For years, that walkway, and the houses next to it, were protected by 5- or 6-foot sand dunes. Even before Sandy hit, some residents grumbled that they couldn’t see the ocean from their front porches. And that was after a 1992 nor’easter picked up the beach walk and smashed it into thousands of pieces.

“You spend a lot of money to rent a place, and it’s so nice to see the ocean from your home,” said Patricia Clayton of East Windsor, whose family has rented a beachfront home in Manasquan for 35 years. “We were so disappointed when they put in dunes. You couldn’t see anything. “

Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University, said Manasquan is taking a tremendous gamble by forsaking dunes.

“Sandy beat them badly and subsequent storms will do even more if they reject replacing the meager dunes they had pre-Sandy,” he said. “That is just the way it is: Love the view now, lose the house later.”

But at a town hall forum on the dunes last Monday, the overwhelming public sentiment was not to rebuild them.

Said John Ridley, looking out from the front porch of his rental to the beach, “How can you not love this?”