VENTNOR, N.J. — It was bound to happen sooner or later, but the reality of the Army Corps of Engineers' dune construction and beach replenishment work coming at the height of summer is particularly galling to people at the Jersey Shore. Especially on a sunny day.
The Army Corps' contractor, Weeks Marine, landed on Ventnor's beaches this week with heavy rusted pipes (one of which helpfully, if not hospitably, had "KEEP OUT" painted on it), and the crews received a sarcastic, angry, and sort of hilarious welcome from Mel Taylor of the website Downbeach Buzz. He recorded and narrated as they made their way with the pipes down the beach, "threading the needle" as they went through the pilings of the Ventnor Pier, dodging kids, sand castles, and umbrellas.
"Watch out everybody! Move your beach chairs," Taylor narrated in his video. "Welcome to Ventnor Summer 2017. Get ready, Margate — you're next."
"Watch out kids!" he continued. "Be careful everybody. This is going to save us. It's the government, so it's good. They're going to thread that needle all the way to the end of the Boardwalk as the beach becomes more and more crowded. Watch out! This is supposed to save your life one day just in case there's a rogue wave."
According to the latest schedule, the Army Corps, in conjunction with the state Department of Environmental Protection, will be pumping dredged sand onto Ventnor's beaches for the next 35 to 47 days, leaving a completion date of Aug. 8. One-thousand-foot stretches of beach will be closed at a time as the corps moves north from Fredericksburg Avenue through Ventnor.
The pipe at the Margate-Ventnor line will then be flipped and work will start in Margate, which fought the dune for years, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. People in Margate are dreading the dune and the way it will alter their beaches, some argue unnecessarily, but it seems at least the front end of their summer will be free of the heavy machinery and 24-hour beeping.
The Army Corps will work its way south through Margate, with the dune curving around the end of the Ventnor Boardwalk and running closer to Margate's bulkhead.
From there: Longport.
When the schedule was first announced, Margate was to shoulder most of the summer work, leading some to wonder if Gov. Christie, who mocked the people of Margate for opposing his plan for protective dunes along the entire 127-mile state coastline, had been involved. But Ventnor has been supportive of the dune work and suffered through summer replenishment several years ago.
In any case, people were still calling it "revenge" in Facebook posts.
"Thanks for destroying our 3.5 month summer and everyone's best chance for income," wrote one local woman who works in real estate. "This is disgusting. Revenge. Pure revenge."