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South-end Ocean City homeowners enjoying big, new beaches

South-end Ocean City homeowners enjoying big, new beaches

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OCEAN CITY — Wendy Smith and her neighbors talked about setting up a rest stop in the middle of the beach at 57th Street Sunday.

“We call them mile markers,” Smith, 55, said of long stretch of sand between the street end and the water.

They were joking now, but it was just two years ago when some believed the beach there might no longer exist. The summer after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the beach at 57th Street was reduced to a tiny strip of sand. Homeowners had been advocating for a beach fill long before that.

The federal government had approved the project in 2007, but never funded it.

“The old-timers said they’d believe it when they saw it,” Smith said.

Then, after Sandy, emergency federal funding was put in place. And finally, last spring, the US Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District began its first ever beach replenishment project from 34th Street south to 58th Street, stopping just before Corson’s Inlet state park.

During the work, which lasted through the summer, Smith and her friends became friendly with the construction crew, bringing them refreshments and doughnuts. She was one of the first people to traipse onto the beach after the replenishment project wrapped up last fall.

“We made sand angels,” she said.

On Sunday afternoon, the group of friends and neighbors convened as they do almost every day in the summer. Temperatures hovered in the 80s and the sun shone brightly with hardly a cloud in the sky.

“We’re thrilled with this,” said Jeff Monihan, who has lived in the south end for 35 years.

The city has signed on to a 50-year deal with the US Army Corps for replenishment every three years, similar to its agreement in the north end of the island.

“It’ll do what everyone wanted it to do, which is protect the houses,” Smith said.

Monihan, 65, said his one wish is for the city to expand the dune for added protection.

Not only has the distance to the water changed, the surf itself has changed since the fill. Once a popular surfing beach, there was not a board in the water Sunday. Josue Messina, 22, of the south end said the fill has eliminated a sand bar which made for good surf.

“It just messes up the waves. It kind of just breaks on the shore,” he said.

Messina said that one “good” nor’easter should fix the sand bar problem.

Randy Cooke, who lives in the south end, said the sand is a blessing and curse. He said that the trek makes it a little difficult for his brother who has a disability, but said homeowners are pleased with the protection the new beach gives.

“Anyone who has a house on the beach likes it,” said Cooke, 41. “We were used to a boutique beach and now we have a grand beach.”

A rest stop might be nice, Smith said, but the beach fill isn’t about sunny, warm days.

“That sand’s not there for people to sit on, that’s there to protect the houses,” she said.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Staff writer

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