The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that Downe Township has been awarded an additional $4.49 million in funding assistance to construct the new sewer system to serve Fortescue and Gandy’s Beach.
“The US Department of Agriculture, the State and the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders have been tremendous partners on this project,” said Mayor Bob Campbell. “This project has been planned for decades and most people thought it would never happen.
“The bayshore area is a beautiful, environmentally sensitive area and this system will allow homeowners to abandon old septic systems for a modern sewer system,” added Mayor Campbell.
Downe Township was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy on October 29, 2012 and five other coastal storms over a two-year period. Homes and businesses were destroyed, bulkheads breach and beaches were washed away. Sandy struck in a time when Downe Township was already suffering from a prolonged economic decline. The slide started with the near collapse of the region’s historically successful oyster industry in the 1950s and a more recent decrease in recreational fishing that has been crippling the charter boats, marinas and small businesses that serve as the backbone of Downe Township.
Since the Township could not afford to fund this sewer system independently, a Memorandum of Agreement has been executed by the state, county and township demonstrating a partnership and commitment to build this plant in a timely manner.
In addition to the $4.49 million in additional grant funds provided by USDA, the initial phase of USDA funding included a $2.482 million grant and $1.518 million low interest loan. The State has also agreed to provide $2.5 million in grant funds to leverage the project. The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders have agreed to sponsor this project by making application to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank for funding. Rutala Associates, a local planning firm, worked with local officials to secure the funding package for this project.
The total project cost is $15.85 million, and development is planned in two phases. Phase 1 is the Fortescue System including the treatment plan and costs are estimated at $11.33 million. Phase 2 will serve Gandy’s Beach at a cost of $4.52 million.