By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Ocean City’s next round of dredging will get underway soon following the award of a nearly $1 million contract to clear out some of the sediment-clogged lagoons lining the back bays.
The city has been spending millions of dollars in the past few years for an ambitious dredging program to deepen the channels and lagoons. In some cases, the muddy sediment is so thick that boaters are unable to navigate through the water at low tide.
The next phase of dredging will target a series of lagoons in need of maintenance to keep them in good shape. They include Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, Sunny Harbor and South Harbor.
City Council awarded a $948,860 contract Thursday night to Trident Piling Co. of Longport for the work. The project is expected to start shortly. City spokesman Doug Bergen said dredging typically is done from the fall to March, a schedule that coincides with the quieter off-season months.
Ocean City’s multifaceted dredging program has been being touted as a model for all New Jersey shore towns dealing with the dangerous problem of sediment-choked waterways.
“The city knows that this program is critically important to our community,” City Business Administrator George Savastano said in a statement. “Waterways that are properly maintained to ensure safe navigation not only serve the boating public, but serve the entire city by enhancing the viability of our community as a seashore resort.”
Mayor Jay Gillian has made the dredging program a major part of the city’s capital improvement plan. He has repeatedly said that dredging will preserve property values, improve public safety, help the boat owners and marinas and protect the environment.
In other business at the Council meeting, Gillian invited residents to a town hall meeting this Saturday to discuss preliminary plans for a new public safety building that would replace the antiquated, century-old police headquarters at Central Avenue and Eighth Street.
The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the Ocean City Tabernacle, at 550 Wesley Avenue. It will include a presentation on the project, including the estimated cost. All attendees will be asked to wear protective masks and to maintain social distancing.
Also at the Council meeting, members of the governing body strongly urged the public to cast their votes for Election Day. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, most of the voting in New Jersey will be done by mail-in ballots.
Voters who show up at the polling place on Nov. 3, will have to fill out provisional ballots. However, voters who have disabilities will be allowed to use the voting machines at polling places.
Ocean City voters may mail in their ballots or place them in a secure drop box located outside of City Hall on the Ninth Street side.
“It’s safe and it’s secure,” Councilman Keith Hartzell said of the drop box.
Council President Bob Barr said that if any voters need help with their ballots, they can stop in at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall.
For people who want to vote in person, polling locations will be open on Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. First and Second Ward residents can vote at St. Francis of Cabrini Church at 114 Atlantic Ave. Third and Fourth Ward residents may vote at Our Lady of Good Counsel Hall located at 3948 Central Ave.