Ongoing fight: Jersey Shore towns to receive $26 million of new beach starting next month
Deal, a town with a long history of attempting to restrict beach access, is about to get a ton of new sand paid for by the taxpayers.
The town, along with Loch Arbor and Allenhurst, will receive $26 million of new beach starting next month. More than a dozen environmental groups called today for funding on future projects to be put elsewhere.
“We have to be judicious about our taxpayer spending,” says former Loch Arbor Mayor Bill Rosenblatt. "New Jersey has a lot more needs than to waste money on putting sand on beaches that we don’t need.”
Extensive and expensive replenishment efforts rebuilt beaches from Cape May to Sea Bright at a cost of $1.5 billion in federal and state funds since the late '80s.
A bill currently in the state Legislature would double the amount of annual state funding toward beach replenishment from $25 million to $50 million.
“They’re only going to bury it again, for what?” asks Jim Bourne, with the Asbury Park Fishing Club. “To charge people to get on the beaches in the state of New Jersey? This is protected as well as it can be right now. Let Mother Nature do what it’s going to do."
Bourne and others say pumping sand on the beach is an environmental and financial loss.
“Just think what happened with Hurricane Ida,” says John Weber, with the Surfrider Foundation. “There's lots of other ways we can protect life and property with that money.”
The groups say if the state increases protection efforts by $25 million instead of focusing on replenishment, that money could be put into mitigation efforts such as stronger building codes, buyouts, relocations and living shorelines.
“We are living in a world of sea-level rise and climate change,” says Rosenblatt. “We have to address those head on, and $25 million can really address that - not to mention the other financial problems we have as a state. From that perspective, this is foolhardy.
The New Jersey Shore Protection Fund bill has received bipartisan support in the Legislature.
Rep. Frank Pallone, who represents the shore towns and is a supporter of beach replenishment, tells News 12 the measures are a cost-effective way to ensure homes and businesses, as well as roads and utilities along the coastline, are protected against future storms, cutting down on the money used to continually rebuild the Jersey Shore infrastructure after disasters.