Seawalls are being proposed as a more durable alternative to sand dunes for future storm protection along the Jersey Coast by a specialist working on a project in Seaside Heights.

A wave crashes over the sea wall on Winthrop Shore Drive following an overnight snow storm January 3, 2014 in Winthrop, Massachusetts. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

David Eareckson, president of Matrix New World Land Development, a division of Matrix New World Engineering, has proposed putting up a seawall in Seaside Heights, similar to the one the state installed in Mantoloking.

"It's really just an alternative, an option, that would allow Seaside to continue to operate as they always have historically, with a beach right in front of their boardwalk," Eareckson said.

The protective wall would consist of steel, but instead of covering the top with sand the way it was done in Mantoloking, Eareckson wants to attach it to the boardwalk and use rocks to keep it in place.

"Our preliminary concepts in Seaside also include stone, both on the ocean side and on the bay side to help protect from erosion because as the waves are hitting, the sand moves easily, but stone, just like the jetties that exist along the shore, the stone tends to stay in place much better," Eareckson.

He added the rock also would help protect against corrosion.

The idea of seawalls is gaining popularity in some Jersey Shore communities, according to Eareckson, including in Point Pleasant Beach where Jenkinson's is embroiled in litigation to prevent the state from moving forward with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's beach replenishment project planned for the entire coast.

"It seems like they're probably going to move forward with the concept," said Eareckson.

Belmar also expressed interest, but Eareckson said the municipality couldn't get the funding in place to build it.

In addition to being more durable, seawalls could help prevent needless litigation currently pending over easements and the state's eminent domain proceedings to try and obtain a portion of residential beach front properties to build the protective dunes, according to Eareckson.

Eareckson said the beach replenishment project in Seaside is necessary so there needs to be an agreement between the property owners, the state and the Army Corps.

"But the problem that we're having right now is that Army Corps will not separate the two projects - the beach fill from the dune project. They've taken the position that they have to move forward together. We've taken the position the we think all Seaside needs is the beach replenishment and a wall and we don't need the dunes, and because Army Corps is refusing to accept that position, that's what may make it not possible to avoid eminent domain because we're at standstill right now," said Eareckson.

He said they proposed language for modifying the easements that are required, which would allow the borough to move forward, which the state is considering.

"We're still trying to figure out the best path, but we're having the discussion, which is a really good sign," added Eareckson.

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