A crescent-shaped, 88-acre manmade island and 102 acres of wetlands have been proposed for Bayonne’s eastern shore between the Bayonne Golf Club and the former military ocean terminal base (MOTBY). The Bayonne City Council accepted a memorandum of understanding at its July 18 meeting among Stevens Institute of Technology, the Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability, the City of Bayonne, and the Bayonne Golf Club.
The island and wetlands would serve several functions, including protecting MOTBY from storm surges, restoring habitats for ecological diversity, conducting wetlands research, and serving homeland security functions, according to Stephen Boswell, CEO of Boswell Engineering and Chairman of the Stevens Institute Board of Trustees, who made a brief presentation at the meeting. The island and wetlands could also serve educational functions, hosting field trips for schools throughout the region.
The Bayonne Golf Club currently has riparian rights for 306 acres of water on its northern end where the proposed island and wetlands would be constructed. A decade ago, “in that area, a trend that has occurred since SuperstormSandy is trying to make a living shoreline more resilient to provide protection for structures, in this case for MOTBY,” Boswell said. “The island we’re proposing here has already been built in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s 1,000 acres. It’s been very successful.”
“The island we’re proposing here as already been built in the Chesapeake Bay, and it’s 1,000 acres. It’s been very successful.” – Stephen Boswell
A model in Maryland
That Maryland project, called Poplar Island, was 1,140 acres in the mid-1800s and had shrunk to less than five acres by 1993. Hundreds of other islands in the same timespan disappeared altogether.
Among the many reasons for the decrease in size and disappearance of islands are beach erosion and other factors, resulting from climate change.
Starting in 1993, the Army Corps of Engineers reinforced sPoplar Island with stone and pumped in dredged soil from the bay’s bed. Then, hundreds of acres of wetlands were planted manually. Now, the island is back to spanning more than 1,000 acres. The island in Bayonne would be constructed with a similar process.
Boswell mentioned a few possible names for the prospective island.One is “Bird Point Island,” an homage to Henry Hudson, who called the peninsula we now call Bayonne, “Bird Point” when he first landed there on his maiden voyage up the Hudson River in 1609.
“As chairman of Stevens, I was thinking more like‘Stevens Island,’ but we’llsee when we get there and get the name,” Boswell said.“But if [the Bayonne community] has any suggestions, we would certainly listen to it.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.