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August 03, 2017

State judge halts beach dunes project in Margate

A New Jersey Superior Court judge has shut down the Margate dune building project.

The judge ordered a seven-day hiatus on the work even though state officials argued it would cost $100,000 a day.

EARLIER COVERAGE: Margate asks judge to reconsider botched dunes plan

Judge Julio Menendez called pictures of the ponding caused by the Army Corps of Engineers "horrendous and alarming."

He ordered the state, the Army Corps of Engineers and city officials to meet and find a solution, according to Margate City Commissioner Maury Blumberg. He said the judge seemed "taken aback by what he saw."

Photo courtesy/Heather Robertson

Huge ponds of water cover the Margate beach where the Army Corps of Engineers is building dunes. Ponded water serves as a catch basin for feces and bacteria grows in the basins as the sun heats the water. Margate, which had fought the dunes, is expected to head back to court over the ponding problem.

A drainage system might cost about $10 million, according to Blumberg. The project already has a price tag of $63 million.

The Department of Environmental Protection deferred comment to the Attorney General's office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Corps also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dune building caused huge ponds of water to form between homes and the dunes; a contractor for the Corps contractor has spent days piping the water into the ocean.

The ocean water was tested and deemed safe, Atlantic County health officials said Thursday. One of three samples taken previously from ponded water showed bacteria which forms due to contamination with feces.

"We finally have their attention. We're not just going to take what they give us," said Blumberg, adding the Corps and the DEP should do some "soul searching."