Stone Harbor Council Meeting Summary – April 19, 2022

As a courtesy to our SHPOA Members, we’re bringing you a summary of each Stone Harbor Work Session and Council Meeting. Intended as summaries, these intentionally don’t have a lot of details and are not a substitute for the official Borough minutes.
Work Session

Public Safety Committee: Flood Mitigation and Storm Sewer Plan 
Cody Stanford, of DeBlasio & Associates, reported on the Flood Mitigation and Storm Sewer Master Plan. The Borough Natural Resource Committee has recommended that the Council adopt the Plan in two weeks, subject to further Council and public comment. 

The full draft report, containing more complete information than in the presentation, has been filed with the Borough for review and public viewing. Depending on the size of the electronic copy of the report, it would either be posted in its entirety on the Borough website, or a link to it would be provided.

Referring to the SHPOA 10-year sustainability estimate of $100 million, Stanford pointed out the SHPOA estimate includes flood mitigation, beach fills, and bay dredging, whereas the Master Plan addresses only flood mitigation in its estimate. 
Recreation and Tourism Committee: Recreation areas getting primped for the season
The committee met with Acting Recreation Director Jenny Olsen who introduced Justin Ricardi, the new interim assistant recreation director; he has taken up a number of activities. They hope to have a new director appointed by the beginning of the season. A Code of Conduct was approved and forwarded to the Board Solicitor for approval at the May 3rd meeting. 

The 82nd Street tennis and pickleball courts are being resurfaced. There will be a slight rise in fees for clinics and leagues. The equipment at the 97th Street playground is being primed and painted. Upon completion, a safety inspector will come to certify the safety of the playground.

Natural Resources Committee: Beach and Bay
Coastal Engineer Doug Gaffney reported that $15 million in funding for the 7-Mile Island beach fill has been approved for the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), to occur in late 2022 to early 2023. Federal funding for Stone Harbor is problematic because sand from Hereford Inlet does not qualify for federal funds. The ACE will use part of the funding to identify alternative offshore sources for sand, but this study will probably not be done by early 2023 and is thus unlikely to impact the upcoming 2022/2023 beach fill. Stone Harbor might be able to use some of the sand from Townsends Inlet for the beach fill this time.

Gaffney developed a draft proposal for a beach improvement Feasibility Study to be conducted to determine future actions for the beach. As an integral part of the study, he recommended using hydrodynamic-numerical modeling which, although expensive to develop, can be used to create a baseline model of the beach. Data can be entered to model the effects of different improvement concepts to help make determinations about which options would work best. He has submitted the draft to Natural Resources Committee Chair Robin Casper and Borough Administrator Bob Smith.

Councilmember Casper reported that the Borough is in Phase 2 of the bulkhead elevation process. Any bulkhead at 4.1 feet – 4.5 feet must be addressed by November 2022. Currently, of the 65 properties with those bulkhead heights, 20 are in compliance, one has been moved to the 4.5-5 feet category, 25 have entered permits, and 19 are non-compliant with no actions having been taken.

Regarding the Beach Sweep, she gave kudos to SHPOA for coordinating the great job done by over 60 volunteers. Thirty 30-gallon bags of trash and five 13-gallon containers of recycling were collected.
Discussion Items
Trash rules
Council President Reese Moore described changes that were made to the trash collection ordinance presented at the last Council meeting, as a result of discussions and feedback received. The original proposal required 64-gallon trash containers. The revised ordinance states that the containers can be up to 96 gallons. The effective date for the requirement is May 1, 2023.

The requirement for a 60-foot limitation on the length of the path to the container storage area
was removed, although containers still cannot be in a pool or pet enclosure. The requirement that the pathway from the storage area be paved was removed. The total container capacity for a storage area was raised to 300 gallons. The language will be clarified regarding pet enclosures and pools. The ordinance will be brought back for discussion in two weeks.

112th Street Beach Lot
Greg Schneider (Kates Schneider Engineering) and Pete Lomax (Lomax Consulting Group) performed studies on the 112th Street beach lot owned by the Borough. Bob Smith had asked Schneider’s firm to prepare options for enhanced public access on the lot. Schneider hired Lomax Consulting to do an environmental analysis to first determine if the land meets the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) regulatory standards for a dune, would preclude development.

Lomax’s firm determined that the unnatural state of the land, and the vegetation and soil were not characteristic of a dune, and therefore the site was not consistent with the DEP’s definition of a dune. Schneider shared a plan for developing the site with parking, restrooms, a rain garden with underground drainage, a foot-washing station, and public access route.

The final recommendation was to bring these results to the DEP for their definitive determination of whether the site is consistent with a dune and if the development proposal is consistent with coastal zone management rules.

In the following discussion, SHPOA’s survey of its members indicating that people were opposed to public bathrooms on the site was cited. The state’s public access goals (as well as the Borough’s municipal plans) require meaningful, non-discriminatory access to the shoreline, not restricted to one particular community. There was discussion about whether there were other places in the Borough where these amenities could be developed.

Council Meeting

During the public comment, people expressed ideas for other places for public restrooms. Geoff Woolery, Chair of SHPOA’s Sustainability Committee, expressed strong support for Doug Gaffney’s proposal, including developing the hydrodynamic model and progressing plans to participate in the upcoming beach fill as was done in 2017.

Ordinance 1606 was adopted regarding obtaining an outdoor dining license.
Ordinance 1607, amendments to the Water and Sewer Ordinance, were adopted.

Several resolutions were adopted, including providing emergency repair of the sewer collapse on 3rd Avenue between 103rd and 104th Streets, approval of the services agreement with Triad Associates regarding fair housing provisions, and an increase in payment of $75,000 for resurfacing the tennis and pickleball courts.

A motion was passed to advertise for bids for the beach storage shed.
To view documents from this meeting, please click this link:
To watch a video of the meeting, please click this link: