Sandy-devastated Ortley Beach residents are scared that another named storm will destroy the slow recovery efforts they're making after nearly being wiped off the coast by Superstorm Sandy last year.

Damage to homes in Ortley Beach
Damage to homes in Ortley Beach (Governor's Office, Tim Larsen)

Ken Langdon, Chairman of the Ortley Beach Liaison Committee, who's still not able to return home, angrily described what he sees as the Toms River Township Council's lack of concern for Ortley Beach residents during Tuesday night's Council meeting.

Langdon told the Council that every other beach on the Jersey Shore are putting storm protection measures in place.

"You go over to Ortley Beach right now and you look at what you have and it's as barren as the Sahara Desert. Nothing. Zero. No preparations are being made," Langdon proclaimed.

Langdon also delivered petitions with over 500 signatures demanding protection from future storms.

However, Township Councilwoman Maria Maruca, who's Ward 1 covers the devastated northern barrier Island communities, says she's been talking with homeowner's associations explaining to them the work they'll be doing.

"We gave them all the information on our plan for dune replacement prior to the Army Corps project, which will take place in both Ortley Beach and the Northern Beaches," Maruca said. "We also talked about putting in the storm-fencing, the zig-zag patterns and things of that nature. Those projects are starting immediately. They've been on our drawing board. We're just waiting until after the summer season."

That doesn't mean Toms River Township has been sitting out the summer before it begins work on the Northern Barrier Island.

"We have been doing many projects in Ortley Beach, be it through the reconstruction of parking lots, boardwalks, infrastructure and we're going to continue to do that," Maruca explained.

Also during the meeting, Township Council members approved a $75,000 no-bid contract for legal services to a politically connected Central Jersey law firm to handle the eminent domain process. The contract was awarded to Paul Rizzo of DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer & Flaum calls for paying $195 an hour for attorney fees, $75 an hour for paralegal services ending 12/31.

Citing that the tight time frame would be impacted by the bidding process, Council President George Wittman says they decided to forgo bidding and select a law firm they've worked with in the past, who is familiar with eminent domain proceedings.

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