Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo on Thursday at the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce membership meeting.U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) updated the Ocean City business community Thursday on a handful of issues of vital interest to the local economy.LoBiondo addressed the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce at its monthly membership meeting during a luncheon at the Flanders Hotel.The congressman said a federal Army Corps of Engineers replenishment project for the eroded beaches of Ocean City’s southern end is still scheduled for the fall. He touted his support of funding that has brought $170 million worth of beach rebuilding to Cape May County alone during his tenure.Because Superstorm Sandy contributed to the erosion, the federal government will pay 100 percent of a multi-town project (with Strathmere and Sea Isle City) estimated to cost more than $60 million for the Ocean City portion alone.“It’s a big break for taxpayers in the Second District,” LoBiondo said of the one-time deal.LoBiondo also explained his support for a flood insurance reform measure — “not a perfect bill but a good bill.”He had voted to support the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act that triggered substantial premium increases in an effort to dig the National Flood Insurance Program out of more than $24 billion in debt and avoid the lapses in funding that temporarily crippled the real estate industry (with mortgage companies requiring flood insurance before property sales could close).But LoBiondo said imperfect implementation of Biggert-Waters led to the need for a reform bill that eases the burden on local property owners.LoBiondo said such measures are not just about insurance and wide beaches — but about protecting the real estate and tourism industries that provide jobs and fuel the economy.Gary Jessel, broker and president of Fox Real Estate, thanked LoBiondo for his work and his experience in protecting local interests.Jessel said the sales market for the spring is doing very well and the rental market is “off the charts.”On other issues, LoBiondo said he thought the City of Ocean City “acted in good faith” in facilitating $1.2 million in emergency repairs to a federal housing project in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. He said he hoped the local Housing Authority, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the city could sit down to end a dispute and come to an agreement on reimbursing the city for the work.He also said he would support construction of a natural-gas pipeline that would help the B.L. England Generating Station meet requirements to burn cleaner fuel.“If the feds had a say in this, I would be voting to get that pipeline built,” LoBiondo said.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Marine biologists performed a necropsy Monday on a humpback whale in the hopes of learning why the mammal had become stranded on a Moriches Bay sandbar last week before it was euthanized, officials said.Experts determined that the whale was female, 29.5-feet long and weighed approximately 15 tons, but results of tests performed on its remains will not be available for weeks, officials said. The tests were conducted after scientists used a crane to lift the whale onto a barge, which shipped the carcass to Cupsogue Beach County Park on Sunday—the same day that community members held a vigil for the whale, which some people believe should have been saved, not euthanized.“We hope to learn more about what caused this whale to strand,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement.The case was the third whale incident on Long Island this year. Two dead whales washed up this spring, and at least a half dozen did so last year. Officials noted that it’s not unusual to see whales off the coasts of LI, but spotting whales in the bay are rare.Local residents had named the whale Morey—after Moriches Bay— after it got stuck on a sandbar Nov. 20. They bemoaned the fact that law enforcement threatened them with arrest if they approached the humpback, which is a federally protected species. The nonprofit Riverhead Foundation for Marine Conservation and Preservation said it had tried to free the whale the same day that it was stranded but failed.Observers say the incident should be a wake-up call.“Outraged local citizens have created a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures so far calling on New York’s federal, state and local elected officials to properly train volunteers to rescue beached whales when they become stranded in locally patrolled waters,” the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said in a statement.When NOAA experts arrived Wednesday, agency officials and a team of veterinarians determined that the mammal was in such poor health that it could not be saved and needed to be put down. Plans to free the whale were subsequently scrapped because experts believed that the weakened whale would just become stranded again, officials said last week.Humpback whales can grow up to 60-feet long, weigh 25-to-40 tons, and live 50 years, according to NOAA. They are threatened by getting entangled in fishing gear, struck by ships, harassed by whale-watching boats, detrimental changes to their habitat, and illegal hunting. These whales were removed from the endangered species list this year.The Riverhead Foundation urges anyone who finds marine wildlife stranded on the beach to call its hotline: 631-369-9829.
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