County to OK Funding to Retrofit Stormwater Basins

Bonds to be issued to repair eight basins, purchase equipment, with 50 percent of monies coming from state sources

The county is expected to soon approve funding for the repair of eight stormwater basins in an effort to preserve the vitality of the Barnegat Bay.

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders last week unanimously introduced ordinances to provide $10 million in bond funding to retrofit eight basins in Toms River and Lacey while purchasing equipment needed to maintain the stormwater basins.

"Our goal is to make sure we protect the Barnegat Bay at all costs," said Joseph Vicari, freeholder director.

Those costs will not fall entirely on county taxpayers, however. The freeholders expect to be liable for only 50 percent of the cost of the 40-year capital and 15-year equipment bonds, owing to state grants, Vicari said.

Eight million will be spent to repair the eight basins, while $2 million will fund the purchase of four pieces of equipment that freeholders say is necessary.

The following stormwater basins will be repaired if the ordinances are adopted: 

  • Vermont Avenue and Cynthia Lane, Toms River;
  • Whitesville Road and Sunset Avenue, Toms River;
  • 2 basins at Ocean County College, Toms River;
  • near OCC, basin 3;
  • Trenton Avenue, Lacey;
  • off Old Freehold Road, near Todd Road, Toms River;
  • Raider Way, off of Coolidge Avenue, Toms River.

Additionally, the $2 million bond will purchase street sweeping equipment and storm inlet and pipe cleaning machinery that will be used to maintain the repaired basins.

"We're funding a new generation of stormwater basins," Vicari said.

County engineer Frank Scarantino has said the upgrades are designed to allow the basins to better capture pollutants, specifically nitrogen, that otherwise flow into the bay.

If the ordinances are approved, the county will authorize the issuance of bonds or notes to cover the total $10 million cost. But Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., chairman of the board's Finance Committee, said Ocean will be responsible for $5 million of the total price tag, with the rest of the money coming from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (an independent authority) and the Department of Environmental Protection. 

Furthermore, the state will pay 75 percent of the interest on the bonds, Bartlett said, while Vicari noted that the board continues to seek additional state funding.

If the bond ordinances pass, contracts are expected to be awarded for work to be completed in 2012.

A public hearing on the ordinances is expected before a final vote at the freeholders' next meeting at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in room 119, county Administration Building, 101 Hooper Ave., Toms River.


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