SEA BRIGHT: A New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) project that will repair the borough's sea wall has been delayed due to a bid challenge.
Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 when raging storm tides destroyed beach clubs, homes and businesses and displaced and eroded portions of the seawall. In areas where there was a break in the seawall, the surging flood tides inundated the low-lying communities, causing extensive damage.
"Design specifications for the repair and mitigation project include the construction of 3,188 lineal feet of new sea wall in accordance with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers design protocols," according to a 2016 news release from FEMA. "The new segments of seawall will connect with the existing seawall, providing a strong barrier that will protect vulnerable areas of both towns should a similar storm strike in the future."
Last year, FEMA obligated $28,358,886 in additional grant funding for the repair of the Hurricane Sandy-damaged seawall in Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, bringing the total FEMA funding obligated for the project to date to $31,344,834. That amount represents 90 percent of the total project cost of $34,827,594. The State of New Jersey will fund the remaining 10 percent.
The DEP, began seeking bidders for the project in August, 2016 and eventually awarded a contract to the lowest responsible bidder, J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc. Creamer was one of three bidders for the project, with the others being Agate Construction and Trevcon Construction.
In October, Agate submitted a letter protesting the award of the bid to Creamer, stating that Creamer's prior projects were not similar enough to work necessary to complete the sea wall construction project. DEP Assistant Commissioner David Rosenblatt reviewed the challenge and determined that Creamer did have sufficient experience, but also created a committee to review the "stone setting qualifications of all the bidders," an aspect of the work that was challenged by Agate.
On Dec. 20, Rosenblatt, after reviewing the committee's findings, issued a final decision awarding the contract to Creamer. On Dec. 29, Agate filed an appeal, asking the DEP to stay the contract, which the DEP later denied.
However, Agate then took the case to court and the matter is currently being adjudicated in the Appellate Division of Superior Court.
Borough Administrator Joseph Verruni said at the March 16 Sea Bright Council worksop meeting that the DEP and the borough are still awaiting a judge's decision on the case.
Once the court makes its decision, the project will begin in the north beach section of Sea Bright and work will progress south. Verruni has said work will not be done at the main beach area during the summer months.