Public Access

by George Browne
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2021 Newsletter)

There is not much to report in this month’s public access column. There are not a lot of people using the beach.

The recent big nor’easter did produce significant beach erosion in some of the oceanfront towns. Those towns immediately began wringing their hands saying how they would need federal and state taxpayer money to put their beaches back in shape for the summer. For those of us who are on the beaches year-round, we know beaches are different in the summer than they are during the winter. In winter, the sand moves offshore and forms bars further out to sea. In the summer, the sand moves back onto the beach and creates wider beaches and sandbars near shore. That is what the ocean does. If the beach is on a barrier island, the island is essentially a sandbar. Sandbars move. Spending 100’s of millions of tax dollars to put sand back on the beach is only a temporary solution. What is so hard to understand about that? Then again, federal and state tax dollars is free money for the towns. I am always amazed how some of the towns, after they accept taxpayer dollars, then work hard to keep out the taxpayers who paid for the sand for “their” beaches. I am not sure which is more difficult, keeping sand on the beach or keeping public access open.

To follow-up on my last column, I reported that Spring Lake quickly sold out their 2021 season badges in December. Earlier this month, the borough suddenly discovered they could fit 2,000 more people on the beach (maybe they plan on pumping more sand this year). There are now an additional 2,000 season beach badges for sale. It is amazing what public pressure can do when people call out the towns and their elected officials. Nice job by everyone who wrote letters and made calls.

The Borough of Deal planned to sell an oceanfront lot at the eastern end of Roosevelt Avenue to an adjacent property owner. The quarter-acre lot was next to a storm water pump station. In 2015 Deal received a grant of $361,000 to shore up the wall protecting the pump station after Sandy damaged the wall. The grant, along with the CAFRA permit for the work, required a permanent public access easement at that location. Deal had promised that they would never sell the property, but this was the second time in two years that the borough tried selling the property. Surfrider Foundation, COBRA, CRAB and the American Littoral Society took the lead in fighting the sale and, as of right now, DEP has blocked the sale. I guess Deal’s promise to never sell the land lasted as long as beach sand does in a nor’easter.

Have a public access issue? Email me at publicaccess@jcaa.org.

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