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Elimination of Beach Badge Fees Proposed by Legislators

A proposed bill would require municipalities that accept state or federal aid to rebuild storm-damaged beaches to provide beach access free of charge

Because beach replenishment projects — especially those revitalizing battered shore town beaches in Hurricane Sandy's wake — are funded by federal tax dollars, two legislators have proposed nixing beach badge fees.

Senate Bill 2368 was introduced by Sen. Michael J. Doherty (R-23) and Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3) and would require municipalities that accept state or federal aid to rebuild storm-damaged beaches to provide beach access and restroom facilities to the public free of charge.

“It is likely that state and federal taxpayers will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to repair and replenish New Jersey beaches that were washed away during Hurricane Sandy,” Doherty said in a news release. “Considering the massive public resources that will be directed at rebuilding many New Jersey beaches, it only seems fair to ensure that everyone have the opportunity to enjoy free access to the beaches they will support and help rebuild with their tax dollars.”

The legislation would apply to towns that accept grants or aid from state or federal governments after Nov. 2, 2012 for the purpose of replenishing storm-damaged beaches.

If the legislation passes, municipalities that accept aid for rebuilding beaches would not be allowed to adopt or enforce ordinances requiring the collection of fees for beach badges.

Those municipalities would also be required to provide free public restroom facilities to beachgoers between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

“Where taxpayers are paying for beach restoration, they shouldn’t be taxed a second time just to walk on the sand,” said Sweeney in the news release. “As New Jerseyans, we are all in the recovery and rebuilding process together. That means we should all be able to enjoy the reopening of our state’s greatest natural resource together, too.”

Sea Bright has been offering the full season badges for its public beach at half price. However, nearby privat beach clubs are rebuilding, allowing no public access, which has been major point of beach access contention.

A resolution passed by the Long Branch Council earlier this month states that the bill, "fails to recognize the operational costs associated with operating a beach and which are incurred by a shore municipality."

"Under the legislation proposed in S2368 the current method of sharing the operational cost between users (people who purchase beach badges) and local taxpayers would be shifted to become the sole responsibility and burden of the local property taxpayer," the resolution states. "Such a shift from a cost-sharing model to a single payer would cause an immediate and dramatic rise in local property tax rates."

Should beach access be free or do you think towns deserve the badge money to cover guarding and maintenance costs? Tell us how you feel in the comments section of this story.

Zeppi February 26, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Beaches that take taxpayer money should be free. Especially in towns like Sea Bright that have been replenished more then once at taxpayer expense! For God sake a good portion of the town looks like it's below sea level. It's also nice to drive through Sea Bright and see all those "Private Stairs" that say "Keep Out" and "Private Property" ! I think NOT. I hope S-2368 becomes law.
SimonSays February 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM
We moved here last Summer from the California and were very surprised and disappointed to find we couldn't access the local beaches without paying and/or a membership. We never paid for access to beaches in California - or anywhere on the West Coast. We didn't even pay for access to beaches in Hawaii. The beaches are for public use maintained by our tax dollars. I see no reason why this model wouldn't work here as well.
John Hendrick February 27, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Just charge for parking - take a portion of parking fees collected to clean up beaches and provide summer jobs for lifeguards... ditch the beach badges & access fees ( and expense assoc w/ process). I think it would result in more revenue for town businesses because more people would come to beach ...and locals would use their bikes or walk.
Todd J Bolsius February 27, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Amen! Being a lifelong NJ resident and having to pay for access to the beach has always annoyed me. I've spent a good amount of time in California, spent a lot of time on some beautiful beaches and never was charged an admission fee. Now it makes even more sense being that taxpayer money is footing the bill to replenish the beaches. Kudos to Senator Doherty and Senator Sweeney for introducing Senate Bill 2638!!
Jean Kingman March 01, 2013 at 12:41 AM
If this is a good idea then there should not be any charges for using Sandy Hook State Park or Jones Beach. Then no one will maintain rest rooms or clean the beaches. I live in Sea Bright and watch the bridge into Sandy Hook. The bridge is only crowded a couple of days a year. Saturdays when the temp has been in the nineties and maybe July 4th. Most of the time the beaches are empty. This is also true in California. In California you have to pay to park in beach lots so don't call it free.

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