Wall Street and Money Island NJ; two opposite corners of the earth.
This week marks 29 years since I left a Wall Street firm to work on my own in the small business world. I posted a reflective piece on the mostly hard lessons learned. I still don’t care to talk much about those days but I suppose that I should.
There is renewed hub-bub this week about the status of state buyouts of homes at Money Island. This post is not meant as a complete rehash of the topic but rather just a short bullet point summary of what’s going on from out perspective. In the short term, nothing is changed. In the long term, we are all underwater.
I’ve talk with a lot of people inside and outside government about this issue over the past decade yet I have no official indication that the state is interested in acquiring more property in Downe other than residences. Yet that seems to be the implication of this week’s announcement by NJDEP.
I am advising property owners in other parts of Downe and Lawrence township but at this time I (personally or through BaySave Corporaion) do not have any financial interests in any of these properties. I do have the right of first refusal on some properties in both townships. None of those properties are involved in buyouts. These first refusal rights preceded and are unrelated to the current buyout process.
The state informally says that they are considering the 2012 offer to acquire the marina properties by gift and then leasing it back to the operators. This is a proposal I still support as being logical and sustainable.
BaySave’s 2015 report on progress toward sustainability was issued in draft form and is available to anyone by request. The report contains more information on the progress of properties owned by the marina. I may publish a copy online soon.
More property owners in Lawrence and Downe township have come to me for help and advice regarding possible buyouts.
The buyouts of some properties are moving forward.
Most property owners who are offered a buyout do accept the first offer.
Other than what is stated here and in other public spaces online I have no “inside information” on the process.
The state’s official forecast, confirmed by every other independent source, is that we will be inundated (i.e. underwater) by rising sea level within our lifetime.
Inundated areas like Money Island are presumed to be inappropriate for residential communities.
Inundated areas like Money Island can be appropriate for aquaculture and eco-tourism with government’s approval and support.
We are still looking for guidance from government on whether to stay and rebuild the businesses or sell to the open space initiative and move away.
The NJDEP and Cumberland County Department of Health has been enormously cooperative in helping us resolve these issues.
Downe Township has not offered any support or guidance in our business recovery and at times seems to be responding with obstacles. Many people presume this lack of support is due to the personal and legal history between me and the township. I am doing my best to bridge the communication gaps.
My best guess is that the aquaculture and harvesting businesses at Money Island will remain but the residences will disappear. Presumably, then, public access to the water would remain possible but the business model of a public access marina would need to change significantly in order to survive. Perhaps it would be like Bay Point? Or perhaps a Fortescue model would be more appropriate? We just don’t know yet.
There is no indication that any of this current discussion is related to last week’s storm. It is just coincidental that the storm triggered additional news and media coverage of the decade-old issue.
This past weekend’s storm caused more problems here than we initially expected. It is quite noticeable that Money Island took one more hit in the long battle against rising water level and increased storm energy. The most visible impact is a loss of more than one vertical foot of beach sand on the water side of the new Bayview Road bulkhead. That beach loss was a predicted impact of the sea wall construction but seeing it happen in real life is no less shocking. The marina lost a finger dock, a load of dock lumber and of our two dock ramps need major repairs. One neighbor’s house lost a section of siding. At least two of the commercial docks need repair or replacement of their flotation. Repair costs of the damaged items we noticed are likely to be in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 even with our use of primarily volunteer and uncompensated labor.
One of the long term predictions about the effect of climate change is that the combine forces of sea level rise and increased water and air temperatures in that smaller storms like this will have a greater destructive impact on property. That seems to be the case with this recent storm Jonas.
I noticed the irony that the newer structures seemed to incur the most damage. The old decrepit and abandoned structures here seem to have survived unscathed.
We do not yet know what is caused this new dock to sink. Perhaps the air-filled floats cracked and filled with water. The floats were rebuilt in September 2015. This will likely be our most difficult and expensive repair this spring.
Flowing sand across roadways and parking areas can cause headaches.
There is more deterioration of the roadway at the Bayview Road bridge yet a tractor clearing debris drove over it today.
The snow and ice on the marsh was mostly melted by the end of the day Monday.
We figure that eventually U.S. manufacturers of amphibious vehicles will bring the price down, but you can forget about troubles with flooded roads right now for only $155,000. We definitely see a vehicle like this in the future of Money Island residents of the year 2030.
Over the past 3+ years since hurricane Sandy we’re made huge progress toward improving our ability to withstand high winds, flooding and even flowing ice. You could say it’s almost been an obsession around here. Here is a partial list of our recent projects:
replaced high electric lighting fixtures mounted on poled with lower level more protected solar powered dock lights
replaced trash dumpster with “tip-proof” elevated storm proof sealed trash and recycling kiosks
stronger signage with plywood backing
use of new corrugated roofing materials and construction techniques designed to withstand 80 mph winds
replaced commercial port-a-potty with elevated and non-tip-able toilet
stainless steel cable tether lines on movable structures and equipment
upgraded the water well and pump house to better withstand freezing and flooding
installed a water line break alarm system
constructed storm-roof crab shedding trays
replaced PVC with more flexible and freeze-proof PEX water supply lines
constructed an enclosed lumber yard
anchored buildings and floating decks to pilings with hurricane straps
anchored roofs to buildings with hurricane straps
upgraded major supporting beams from 4×4 lumber to 6×6 lumber
moved freezer and ice machine from outside deck to inside a closed structure
constructed dunes and berms
planted dune grass
encouraged growth of ground cover on empty lots so that root systems will prevent erosion
added rock on most vulnerable shorelines
entered partnership with The Nature Conservancy shoreline stabilization project.
Used oyster shell, conch shell and clam shell in strategic places to prevent erosion
Used various sized porous materials to minimize erosion from drainage in the most vulnerable spots
new methods to strengthen pilings and prevent erosion of poles and docks
added safety chains to docks
installed new quick-disconnect hardware on vulnerable finger docks
combining the use of both nails and screws for better overall strength in dock construction
upgraded dock hardware to 1/2″ galvanized
experimental use of plastic dock angle hardware for flexibility and rust resistance
reconstructed docks to be stronger and more resistant to flowing ice
replaced older pilings with stronger new poles
use a double system of rings plus chains to secure the most vulnerable floating docks (the transition dock near the ramp)
replaced older concrete septic tank lids with new sealed plastic lids
allow walkways and some decks to float in high water without causing damage
replaced storage buildings to gather and contain materials and equipment
in general, we don’t leave things laying around outside
Storm protection is an ongoing project for us but we feel confident that we’ve come a long way in the past three years.
This little 2.5 horsepower 4 stroke engine is one of the most fuel efficient outboard engines made. It does not set any speed records but easily moves our 12 foot aluminum rental boat up the creek for perch fishing.
We thought that the sound of an outboard engine would be welcome and comforting in the middle of January.
The wind this week caused some damage but overall we are still doing much better this winter than in past years. On days when the wind dies down we still get some work done at the marina. At this point in mid-January we are beginning to gain hope that we will get through the winter without any major replacements necessary.
This photo below shows ice damage from last year’s severe winter. We replaced 7 of these damaged finger docks with a stronger design and have 2 more under construction now.
Despite the cold weather now, it won’t be long before reservations for our docks start heating up. Spring striper season beginning in March has been fairly successful for the the few boater who venture out in search of the migrating fish.
Call Bruce at 856-447-3576 to reserve a boat slip for the season opening on March 15.
We just resolved the boat slip questions for 2016:
We lowered slip rental prices last year for 2015 to $45 per foot and the rate will remain the same for 2016. There will be a $100 surcharge for the slips with the new finger docks; we have 4 more under construction this winter. The intent is to keep the cost as low as possible for those who are price sensitive but to cover the cost of the new slips and other upgrades over time.
Part of D dock, near Bowen’s and away from the recreational boats, will be converted to large boat and commercial boat parallel docks. Our intent is that by removing extra recreational dock capacity we will get back to 100% recreational dock usage more quickly. The number of available slips will decrease from 64 to 45.
I made a physical inspection of the docks yesterday. We are in better physical shape than in any past year but will continue to work on a “punch list” of repairs. If you know of anything that needs attention on your dock, please let me know.
The slip rental agreement is available for download. Nothing is changed from last year except that Tony will check for and counter-sign the lease agreement before the boat comes in.
Please consider giving us a hand by spreading the word. We need a few more boaters who appreciate our “private bay”.
“The Coast Guard recommends mariners to carry a working VHF radio, life jackets and signaling devices prior to beginning their voyage. VHF radios have a greater range than cell phones, and provide a direct link to Coast Guard watchstanders.”