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Keansburg, New Jersey: The Gem of the Bayshore

Settled across the bay from Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty, Keansburg, New Jersey, the “Gem of the Bayshore,” is a century-old fishing town turned treasured seasonal destination. Occupying just one square mile, Keansburg boasts its own amusement park, an award-winning beach, fishing piers, and a bay walk to take in the beautiful skyline views. Using the water as both an economic driver, and as an early transportation option, Keansburg has always embraced their shoreline as a significant part of their identity.

Impacted first by Hurricane Donna in the 1960s and then more recently by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it’s not always sunny days and beachy breezes for the residents of this seaside borough. Nearly 90% of the borough’s property is mapped into a special flood hazard area. Further, the borough’s center sits at a lower elevation than the surrounding areas, causing a significant amount of rainfall to accumulate and become trapped - a problem that’s only getting worse with increasing rain and sea level rise. 

We sat down with Ed Striedl, Construction Official, Floodplain Manager and Zoning Official for the Borough. Serving Keansburg for nearly 50 years, Ed has held roles as diverse as police officer, borough manager, and code enforcement officer. “I’ve always tried to be a service-oriented, hands-on person,” Ed says, and it’s this attitude that he has brought to his role as floodplain manager and head of the community’s CRS program.

Protecting CRS Discounts

“Policies can easily be in the thousands of dollars and now when you apply the 15% CRS discount, it’s a substantial savings for the residents.” This is what Ed thinks of – the impact on his fellow residents – when he considers the challenges and rewards of the Community Rating System (CRS) program. 

Celebrating nearly 10 years of CRS participation, Ed has spent a significant amount of his time and resources contending with the many documentation challenges of the program, especially manually reviewing and correcting elevation certificates (ECs). “In the first five years, the Borough received notices from ISO that there were errors on elevation certificates.” Ed, like so many other floodplain managers across the country, understood what this meant: with only two chances for elevation certificates to pass an ISO review with a 90% accuracy, every error found was a threat to the discount that he and his fellow residents counted on to protect in their seaside town. 

Leveling the Playing Field

“It was obvious that the ISO CRS Specialists had tools available to them to scan ECs and return them to municipalities for corrections.” Ed wanted to be able to even that playing field. Learning about the EC Error Detection feature through the Monmouth County CRS Users' Group Meeting, Keansburg partnered with Forerunner and began uploading all of their ECs right away. With a few quick clicks, they were able to automate running hundreds of validation checks on ECs to identify issues and work with surveyors on corrections prior to submitting them for CRS review.

And for the first time in a long time, no revisions were required. “One of my best Christmas presents was when I was informed by our ISO specialist that no corrections needed to be made to any of the ECs we submitted for our CRS recertification,” Ed shared. 

Added Benefits - SI/SD, Logs and the Public Website

While it was the EC Error Detection feature that drove Ed to work with Forerunner, Keansburg has benefited from so many other features designed for floodplain management workflows. 

Prior to getting Forerunner, Ed and his team were routinely challenged by substantial improvement/substantial damage (SI/SD) calculations. It was difficult to get an accurate list of permits and documentation on a property to determine if it had reached the 50% threshold for SI/SD, a task that became all the more important after the community adopted New Jersey’s model ordinance. Now, Ed and his team issue a flood permit for any construction work being done in a designated flood zone, and have adopted a 10-year cumulative ordinance – requiring them to track substantial improvements/substantial damages across a 10-year rolling time frame. Thankfully, Forerunner’s SI/SD tool has made this easier than ever before by tracking all relevant SI/SD data on each property in Keansburg and flagging those properties that are close to the cumulative threshold, so that Ed and his team can easily use this information in their permitting processes.

Using Keansburg’s Forerunner public website, Ed and his team can easily share this SI/SD threshold data, as well as other important flood risk and permitting-related information, such as flood zone, base flood elevation and design flood elevation. Because Keansburg has large-scale redevelopment projects underway and anticipates more to come to continue town improvements, equipping realtors, insurance agents and mortgage brokers with the flood risk information that they need is a key focus for Ed and his team. Keansburg actively promotes the website in their annual outreach to realtors, insurance agents, and mortgage brokers, in targeted mailing to repetitive loss areas, and in other borough mailings, including tax bills, water/sewer bills, and newsletters. This supports the community’s larger commitment to resident outreach, and also helps them gain credits in the CRS. 

As the residents interact with Ed and his team, this can also be documented and submitted for CRS credit.

Leading Keansburg into the Future of Floodplain Management 

After nearly 50 years in public service, Ed notes that his retirement is coming soon. But this hasn’t prevented him from setting some clear goals for Keansburg’s floodplain management future. “We hope to be able to drop down to a Class 6, which would provide even more savings to our residents.” 

How? Ed wants to continue to build on the progress they’ve made reducing the number of high-risk properties and enforcing regulations that restrict residents and visitors from negatively impacting the dune system. 

The borough is also exploring more technology to empower long-term planning and more ways to leverage Forerunner. They’re working on a study on flood risk with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is scheduled for completion in 2026 and are hoping to build a newer protection system that will help maintain the beachfront. 

At Forerunner, we’re excited to continue collaborating with Keansburg as they work towards those goals!

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