Seventeen Foot Wall Constructed Along Cape May Beachfront

Seventeen Foot Wall Constructed Along Cape May Beachfront

To build the wall or not build the sea wall? That is the question Cape May should be asking. How many citizens of Cape May are aware of an Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to build a seventeen-foot wall constructed along the Cape May beachfront?

Specifically, the wall would be constructed or poured at the corner of Beach Avenue and Wilmington on the east end. The word poured is used to imply if ACOE plans proceed the wall would be smooth concrete.

Army Corp illustration of the flat-surfaced seawall at Wilmington and Beach Avenue in Cape May

The wall would extend for approximately 200 feet to the corner of  Wilmington Ave. Another 200 feet down Beach Avenue to the west would create a seawall.

Last week, the Army Corps published their draft plans for the wall on the ACOE website. They want public comment. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study is a detailed plan of drawings, facts, and figures.

For some reason, this notice does not appear on the City’s website. Could it be that 60 days into the new Cape May administration, the governing body has no interest, “build the wall?”

Flood Mitigation

Post-Hurricane Sandy

Remember Hurricane Sandy? Remember the images of sand around the street signs on the east end of Cape May? If the great flood as reported by the Cape May Sentinel is a matter of when not if, should Cape May participate with a willing Army Corps of Engineers offer to help?

Projects like this are expensive. Very expensive. Maybe the expensive homes at the east end of Cape May would benefit. Maybe those homes are happy with the risk associated with non-participation.  The citywide benefit is the possible reduction of flood insurance rates.

The seawall, at approximately 3.7 million dollars, the city would eventually be responsible, before grants of 35% of the cost. Of course, if the city chooses to let the project languish and die, the Army Corp has a long line of projects waiting for help.

Walls are not popular

At the outset of the 2021 administration council disbanded most citizen’s advisory committees. Included was the Cape May Sea Wall- Promenade Advisory Committee, chaired by Doctor Scott Maslow. Councilwoman Stacey Sheehan was the council liaison to the committee.

It is not entirely clear who wanted the committees dissolved. With nearly $600,000.00 of BRIC grant money at play, it seems the citizens of Cape May might want input. The Army wants input, both from the citizens and the City of Cape May.

Doctor Scott Maslow who passionately chaired the seawall committee is willing to talk to anyone who wants information on this project. Feel free to Email him with your questions.

A lot of questions remain. The most effective height and the esthetics of the final construction. “The Army Corps is very busy and are almost exclusively interested in just resiliency. Maslow said. “We got a design that is a box.  I believe we as a community can do a lot better.”

There is also the question of the money already invested in design investigation. The header image of this post is from Mott MacDonald who worked with the previous administration on the design.

My feeling is that most people are not aware of this proposal. I intend to report it so you can decide which direction the council should take it.

Ultimately it’s still your choice.


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  1. David Greene
    March 2, 2021 / 1:32 pm

    Thank you John. It is difficult to come to a right answer here. … Certainly if a wall is constructed we want it to look good. … Thank you for the public service of your reporting.

  2. Kory Joyce
    March 2, 2021 / 2:03 pm

    I had no idea. I don’t remember reading about it or seeing anything in print.

  3. Zack Mullock
    March 2, 2021 / 2:20 pm

    There are several flaws in this article that we would have been happy to answer had you given us a head up.
    1. We did not disband the Seawall Committee as you state
    2. We only disbanded 2 committees out of 10
    3. The Army Corp report was published to their website 2 business days ago, to say that because it is not posted on the City website means we do not support the seawall is pretty outlandish.
    4. Deputy Mayor Sheehan has asked that letter’s go out to all the area home owners. That would not have been done without her request.
    The next step will be public presentation and comment, this Administration will ensure that that step is well publicized. While no flood mitigation projects or seawall improvements occurred over the prior 4 years, this Administration will be taking on these important projects. Protecting our City from sea level rise and flooding will be extremely important moving forward.
    While neighboring municipalities have been taking major steps on flood mitigation Cape May did not. On Thursday I meet with the NJDEP along with the City Manager and Deputy City Manager. We have met with the Army Corp multiple times now in our first two months, and will be doing so again in the next few days. I should also mention the beach replenishment project at the Cove is just about complete and they did a wonderful job.
    What is important moving forward is working directly with the Army Corp. Having spoken to several professionals and people from the Army Corp of Engineers, they cannot understand why the City of Cape May has spent over $100k in engineering through a private Engineer, and not simply working with the Army Corp itself (the very people designing and paying for a majority of it). That is what we will be doing moving forward.

    • Mark Henry
      March 3, 2021 / 10:25 am

      Mr Mayor,

      It must be gratifying to be able to lodge an objection in the comments of a post you disagree with. Perhaps you will consider extending this privilege on your own Facebook page and cease blocking and censoring the citizens of Cape May who disagree with you.

    • Scott Maslow
      March 3, 2021 / 5:46 pm

      I’ve always loved the saying “you’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts”. In response to Mayor Zack Mullock’s comments on John’s blog for brevity let me address one aspect.

      The city of Cape May was awarded a grant of approximately $120,000 to do a design phase and evaluation of the beaches with the ultimate goal to extend the Seawall from the Army Corps project at Wilmington and the Beach to Madison.
      Those monies were to be allocated to a private engineer for only that purpose. None of this grant could be legally allocated to the Army Corp project. I believe approximately 10% of this contract was to be paid by the city.

      So the fact that the city spent $100,000 of the city’s money is erroneous.

      The Army Corps is a wonderful organization. They have been tied in with Council, the Promenade Committee, and Mott McDonald’s work from the beginning. To give everyone a perspective of costs, it was in the best interest of Cape May to pursue a private engineer for an alternative design. The costs for the feasibility study done at Wilmington and the Beach done by the Army Corps was $600,000 of which the city’s portion is $300,000. One design was proposed. The feasibility study and design done by Mott McDonald ran from 290 ft west of Wilmington to Madison was done with grant monies of $120,000. Up to 3 designs were to be shown to the public. As a massive cost differential between the two projects with Mott’s work encompassing 5 times the area and far more complicated.

      Ultimately, we as a town may accept the Army Corps as the best design. But I believe this town deserves a choice. That is why it was determined prudent to engage a private engineer. Without an engineer, you as residents are left with only your opinions on how to design the Promenade. I also am of the opinion that home rule is always the best for our town. The Army Corps will be amenable to any reasonable alternative to their design if it doesn’t affect its ultimate goal of resiliency.

    • Gavin O'Donnell
      March 16, 2021 / 4:12 pm

      Zack, we own 1611 Beach where the photo for the rendering was taken from the looks of it. This is the first we’ve really heard about this – and will be writing you separately – but are ABSOLUTELY AGAINST anything of the sort!! This would be a travesty of unmitigated proportions. Leave it be, and leave the Army Corps out of it — you need look no further than their failed project in Montauk (which everyone saw coming) to realize they do far more harm than good, and the city will be on the hook for millions in the years to come.
      – The O’Donnells

  4. Ron Lambert
    March 2, 2021 / 2:23 pm

    John, thanks for the heads-up on this project. I have a secondary residence between Beach and New Jersey Avenue near this location. Had a chance to read the ACE Seawall Draft Report. My initial inclination is that this is a good idea…… but I look forward to learning more.

  5. Mark Woods
    March 2, 2021 / 4:29 pm

    Leave well enough alone.