2010-11-18 / Front Page

A sea change for the Cliffwood Beach waterfront

Railing will complete Aberdeen sea walk
BY JACQUELINE HLAVENKA
Staff Writer
The revitalization of Aberdeen’s beachfront and seawall will be finalized by the end of the year, township officials announced at a council meeting on Nov. 9.

Aberdeen Township plans to build a 5/8-mile pedestrian “sea walk” project that includes a concrete walkway atop the beach seawall along Cliffwood Beach. JEFF GRANIT staff Aberdeen Township plans to build a 5/8-mile pedestrian “sea walk” project that includes a concrete walkway atop the beach seawall along Cliffwood Beach. JEFF GRANIT staff The finishing touches for the long-awaited 5/8-mile Cliffwood Beach sea walk project includes the installation of ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) rails, which the township Public Works Department received on Nov. 10.

“Basically the construction of the sidewalk is complete; all that’s left is to put up the rail,” Councilman Gregory Cannon said in an interview. “We really want to encourage people to use the beach. We think it’s an underutilized and underappreciated portion of the township.”

The sea walk, spanning from Lakeshore to Beach Drive, was installed atop the Cliffwood Beach seawall and extends along the Raritan Bay coastline, a project designed to attract foot traffic and greater accessibility to the area.

“It’s a beautiful view down there,” Cannon said. “You can see straight across Union Beach and Keyport.”

The township received a $94,000 Monmouth County Community Development Grant and $169,000 in Monmouth County Open Space funds for the infrastructure improvement project, about half the funding needed for the $372,276 plan.

Other improvements for the waterfront include an expanded parking area, ADA-compliant ramps and new signage.

Due to the environmentally sensitive conditions adjacent to the bay, the sea walk project was designed to be a passive recreation area in order to protect the wetlands and wildlife of the Bayshore, Cannon explained.

“Open space is disappearing by the minute,” he said. “It is a valuable commodity, especially in central New Jersey, particularly Monmouth County. Those are certainly areas in our town that are certainly environmentally sensitive and should be looked at accordingly in terms of passive recreation or preservation.”

In the early 1900s, Cliffwood Beach was once a popular resort town with a bustling boardwalk, saltwater pools and an amusement zone, similar to neighboring areas such as Keansburg and Coney Island, N.Y.

In 1960 the severe winds and high tides of Hurricane Donna destroyed the boardwalk and caused severe beach erosion in Cliffwood, which subsequently decimated the local economy.

After the storm, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a seawall rising approximately 20 feet above bay level that spans the entire proposed sea walk section from Lakeshore Drive to Beach Drive in order to prevent further land and beach decay, according to a township presentation.

With the construction work nearly finished, township officials are getting ready to unveil the completed sea walk project,

“After the [beach] cleanup, I did enjoy walking on it with my wife,” Mayor Fred Tagliarini said at the meeting. “It is great, but the railing is coming.”

CME Associates, Parlin, conducted the engineering work, and B&B Construction of Howell performed contracting, according to Township Manager Joseph Criscuolo.

The Cliffwood Beach beachfront improvements also link to the township’s initiative to preserve a 183.5-acre tract in the Freneau section of town, the headwaters area of Matawan Creek.

“The watershed drains down from Whale Creek into Cliffwood Beach,” Cannon said. “The watershed area is all interconnected. That’s what prompted us talking about passive recreation areas, minor development as opposed to building a big boardwalk or something like that.”

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